Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New face at LCH

By Will Bublitz

Lincoln Community Hospital (LCH) and its clinic in Limon are enhancing their patient care with the addition of Karrie Holmes, a new family nurse practitioner.

Karrie is currently seeing patients at LCH’s Limon Family Practice Clinic and its Gordon Clinic in Hugo.

“I just started in August, but I was already familiar with the local area after doing my clinical rotation at Lincoln Community Hospital last year,” she said. “Right now, I’m floating between the Gordon and Limon clinics as needed, but I should have a more set schedule later in September.”

As a family nurse practitioner, Karrie can perform most of the same medical treatments as a physician.

“A family nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has gotten a Master’s degree in science,” she said. “That enables me to do the same clinical assessment, diagnosis and treatment as a physician. Under Colorado law, nurse practitioners can work independently unlike a physician’s assistant who has to work with a doctor.”

At present, the only thing that Karrie cannot do on her own is write prescriptions.


“As a new family nurse practitioner, I have to work a thousand hours before I’m able to write prescription under a new Colorado law,” she said.  “For now, one of our physicians has to write the actual prescription for me. I’ll have that prescription authority in about six months.”

Although she lives in Colorado Springs, Karrie said she decided to work for LCH because she enjoys working in a rural area.

“Erin Mellott, a physician assistant at Lincoln Community Hospital, was my preceptor last year,” she said. “Erin helped me understand that rural medical care is different from what I’d find in the city where patients are double and triple-booked. And I really enjoy working with both Drs. Mark Olson and John Fox who have so much experience and knowledge.”

Karrie became a family nurse practitioner after graduating from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in May. While newly qualified for that position, she is not new to medicine. Prior to earning her degree, she had worked for 15 years as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Registered Nurse (RN).

“I went into medicine because I’ve always liked helping people,” she said. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by the science behind medicine.”

Karrie discovered her interest in medicine while growing up in her hometown of Monroe, Mich. After graduating from Monroe High School, she relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska where her parents had moved.

“While I was living in Fairbanks, I worked in a daycare center,” she said. “Working with those kids really peaked my desire to become either a doctor or nurse. I also started working with disabled American veterans and seeing the struggles they had. I wanted to be able to help them.”

After living in Alaska for two years, Karrie moved back to Michigan where she took a job working in a group home for the mentally disabled.

“At the same time, I decided to go to nursing school,” she said. “I enrolled at Kirtland Community College in Roscommon, Mich. and graduated as an LPN. I then worked at a variety of nursing jobs in Michigan for 10 years.”

In 2005, Karrie married Kevin Holmes, an active-duty soldier in the U.S. Army. When Kevin was reassigned to Fort Carson, they moved to Colorado Springs in 2006.

“After we moved to Colorado, I worked first at Pikes Peak Hospice and later at HealthSouth in Colorado Springs,” she said. “I also started RN school at the University of Phoenix in Lonetree, Colo. In 2010, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and became an RN.”

Wanting to further improve her qualifications, Karrie made the decision to become a nurse practitioner. In 2013, she enrolled in the Bethel School of Nursing at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS).

“I made that decision after talking to one of my hospice patients,” she said. “I was complaining about the direction that health care was taking, but I didn’t think I could make any changes because I was just an RN. He looked at me and said that if I wanted change, I had to become that change. That made me think seriously about becoming a middle-level medical provider.”

The Nurse Practitioner program at UCCS proved to be a demanding course of instruction. It took 2-1/2 years to complete.

“It was a full-time, all-year-round program and I still working while I was doing it,” she said. “I did a lot of seven-day work weeks. I graduated this past May with a Masters of Science in Nursing.”

In addition to holding down a nursing job and studying for her advanced nursing degrees, Karrie was raising a family. Her husband Kevin and she have three daughters – 15-year old Emily, 8-year-old Ava and 5-year-old Leah.

If her life were not already complicated enough, Karrie also had to deal with the absence of Kevin, who is a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army infantry. Over the past few years, he has gone on four combat deployments, twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan.  One of those deployments lasted 15 months. He is currently preparing for his fifth overseas deployment.

Karrie said that Kevin and she are already looking forward to moving their family to Lincoln County after he retires from the Army. For the present, she is commuting to work from their home in Colorado Springs.

When she has some spare time, Karrie enjoys hiking, fishing and photography. She also is a sports fan.

“I might get in trouble for saying it, but I’m a Detroit Red Wings hockey fan, but I do love the Denver Broncos,” she said.

In addition, Karrie is a volunteer for Painted Paws for Veterans, a Colorado nonprofit organization that assists veterans and their families in adopting dogs from animal shelters and rescues. The dogs provide the veterans with emotional support and a way to reconnect to life and family, both during and after military service.

“Our family has three dogs of our own,” she said.

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