Shirley Olson, NP-C and IFMPC, is poised to provide a unique alternative healthcare model in her new Ridgway office. It is a small-office practice that provides personalized whole health medical services for her patients, addressing needs of both the body and mind.
Olson’s vision comes with several years of experience in the healthcare industry as a nurse practitioner and a strategic plan to treat patients individually and according to functional medicine principals.
“Ridgway Center for Whole Health is my dream,”said Olson, a licensed nurse practitioner and a certified functional medicine practitioner. “The traditional medical model doesn’t fit all patients’ needs. I want to provide a kind of care that meets my patients’ needs with longer appointment times, in-depth analysis of underlying or root cause of illness and a whole body approach.”
Functional medicine is defined as the practice of identifying the specific causes of a medical condition. For example, while conventional medicine might treat symptoms of intestinal issues with medication only, functional medicine delves deeper into underlying conditions to determine the cause of the issues.
Treatment options might include medication, but a concentrated effort goes into formulating a plan to prevent the condition from recurring or to best manage the issues so they do not interfere with quality of life.
Olson’s focus is on primary care and includes patients with chronic conditions as well as those who want to enhance existing good health. She describes functional medicine as patient-centered, customized care.
She has experienced medical issues of her own and her training with the Institute for Functional Medicine helped her deeply investigate her symptoms, get specialized testing and formulate a treatment plan that has led to her overall better health. She wants to provide that same level of medical care for her patients.
Olson and her doctor husband had a medical practice in Ouray for years, which they sold before they started practicing in Montrose in 2012. Last summer, they sold Pavilion Family Medicine in Montrose so that her husband can ease into retirement and she can move forward in a new medical venture.
Olson’s philosophy of care
As a nurse practitioner, Olson can treat patients with medication, order tests and refer patients to specialists. She can see patients who need urgent care or those who need annual physicals and everything in between.
“I call it the ‘come as you are’ plan,” said Olson. “I take most types of private and public insurance as well as Medicare. People on high-deductible plans tend to avoid medical care and I want to help them find a way to make proactive medical care work for them.”
In essence, Olson creates one-on-one relationships with patients to create long-term health optimization, saying that waiting for appointments is often a barrier to good health. Hence, her model is to see fewer patients for longer periods of time and be available even during off hours as needed.
“If I’m working with a patient to dial in a specific treatment plan, adjusting insulin for example, they can’t always wait for an appointment that might be weeks out,” said Olson. “And some patients just need more one-on-one time than others.”
In her new practice, Olson uses a HIPAA-compliant smartphone app that allows patients direct access to her via text, email and in some cases video chat. Olson emphasized that it is just one more way to personalize her relationship with patients using a secure data and privacy portal.
Olson’s new office features a single exam room so she can focus on just one patient at a time. The office does not even have a waiting room.
“There will be very little time waiting to see me,” said Olson of her goal to meet with a maximum seven to eight patients per day compared to the hustle and bustle of a traditional medical practice.
Instead of a waiting room, her practice features a place for patients to practice mindful contemplation with MUSE and HeartMath biofeedback programs and an exercise room for yoga on-demand and small group personal training sessions. The exercise room features a big screen TV, elliptical machine and Peloton cycle. Olson will also have a membership plan for patients to access the mental and physical fitness rooms during limited off hours via key pass.
Collaboration as a model for success
Olson said she is establishing her practice in Ridgway because of its central location and because of the flexible mindset of area residents.
“There are a lot of people out there who prefer seeing a nurse practitioner rather than a doctor,” said Olson. “I establish long-term primary care relationships with people who like the integrative, functional medicine approach.”
She said a large part of functional medicine includes hormone balancing, and that is why some of her current patients see her. She also described how running extensive cardiac, inflammatory or genetic testing can provide patients with preventive plans to help optimize their health.
While many of her current patients will find her in Ridgway after having seen her in Montrose the past six years, Olson says she is looking forward to seeing new patients, too, and working together in a collaborative, holistic approach to healthcare.
“We’re lucky that there are many excellent doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, psychotherapists and other medical professionals to choose from here,” said Olson. “It’s really a great area to act as a team in providing the absolute best patient care. And the people here are health-oriented. They want to understand their health and their options for staying healthy.”
Olson’s new office opens July 2 at 195 S. Lena St. Until then, she encourages current patients and new patients to visit her website at www.RidgwayCWH.com to initiate medical records transfer and to schedule appointments.
Likewise, Olson encourages potential new patients to schedule a complimentary nonclinical visit to learn about her functional medicine approach or to reserve a spot to learn more about her and her practice at an upcoming information session.
Patients can also call 970-626-6026.