There's been a whole lot of talk about health care over the past few years, and whatever your stance on reform, one thing most of us can agree on: There's great benefit in having a health care provider that takes the time to know and communicate with you, your family and your community.
Inglewood's Cole Family Practice focuses on "individualized health care" -- i.e. approaching our needs like we're the one-of-a-kind snowflakes we are. Oddly enough, individualized care requires breadth, and Cole's offerings thusly range from traditional practices (physicals, acute illness care) to alternative therapies (metabolic detox, wellness therapies).
We reached out to owner, board certified family nurse practitioner and board certified nurse-midwife Amy T. Cole to find out a little more about the local family practice, why they chose their specific approach and why they chose to expand from Old Hickory to East Nashville (spoiler alert: It's a family affair).
The East Nashvillian: What made you choose to open a practice in East Nashville?
Amy T. Cole: "My husband and CFO of Cole Family Practice grew up in East Nashville -- he attended Dan Mills Elementary, Litton Junior High School, and Stratford High school. We love the area and support the resurgence in this special part of Nashville.
"Another persuading factor was that we had a couple of East Nashvillian patients that came to our Old Hickory location because they liked our holistic approach. They kept begging for a location in their neighborhood, and eventually we made it happen. We do listen to our patients, and it made sense to bring healthcare into the East Nashville neighborhood."
Did you see East Nashville as particularly suited for the broader health approach you take?
"Definitely. When you bring health care into a neighborhood, you need to be able to meet the needs of the individuals you are serving. We believe that providing health care for the whole family promotes healthier families, which was our goal in opening a second location. We strive to be a place that you can come when you are sick as well as provide a healthcare home that through preventative health and education can keep you well."
Can you talk a little about the "wellness" part of what Cole Family Practice provides, like alternative therapies?
"We are unique in being able to offer the traditional practices of medicine as well as alternative therapies. Some alternative approaches are micronutrient testing, hormone saliva testing, midwifery care, and treatment of healthcare conditions with compounded medicines and or supplements.
"We understand that there is a lot of information out there and patients are doing their research. We help them navigate through the information and select a holistic treatment approach based on evidence.
"The founding philosophy is to offer individualized health care and make sure that our patients are informed about their health care options. Decision making is a team effort, consisting of the patient, patient family, and their practitioner."
Your midwifery care program is affiliated with Vanderbilt University School of Nursing -- what does that partnership entail?
"All of the midwives at Cole Family Practice are part of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing Faculty Practice. They provide the same great care as the Nurse-Midwives at West End Women's Health. Through our partnership we are able to provide seamless integration to Vanderbilt specialists and consultants if they should be needed during your pregnancy.
"We are hoping to offer pregnant patients the best of both worlds: the resources and expertise of a large academic practice, in the setting of a more intimate family practice where holistic care is embraced."
Interest in midwifery seems to be growing a lot, around here specifically, but it's still unfamiliar to a lot of people. How do you introduce or explain midwifery care to folks who aren't familiar yet? Are there certain things you'd suggest people consider to figure out whether it's the right choice for their pregnancy or care?
"Certainly, a lot of misinformation still circulates about midwifery in general. The midwifery model of care seeks to support and maintain health for women. We provide well-woman care for women of all ages, and specialize in maternity care and childbirth. Nurse-Midwives all hold a Master's degree, and many are doctorally prepared as well.
"Simply put, Nurse-Midwives are experts in normal birth. That said, with the backing of excellent obstetricians and Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists, the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwife faculty practice in particular has a fairly wide scope of practice: We take care of women laboring naturally and those who desire pain relief in labor, we co-manage some complicated pregnancies and deliveries with the help of our consultants, and we have been nationally recognized for our rate of success in helping women who have had previous cesarean sections to deliver vaginally.
"I would suggest that couples seek a 'consult' visit with different providers and see where they feel most comfortable. Every midwifery practice in Nashville will offer a free consultation. [Midwife.org has] a consumer website where you can learn what midwifery has to offer."
What drew you, specifically, toward midwifery?
"Living overseas [in Central and South America and Haiti, among other places] and seeing how birth was treated as a normal process and attended by midwives made a huge impression on me. I was able to see how empowered women were through education and choices. Seeing the statistics about the improved maternal and fetal outcomes with this model of care began to draw me toward midwifery.
"After returning to the United States, my sister had a birth with a midwife and it confirmed that I had found my calling. As a family practice nurse practitioner and nurse midwife I love being able to focus on wellness and educate patients to empower them in their health care choices."
For more on Cole Family Practice, visit www.colefamilypractice.org, or visit the East Nashville location at 1406 B McGavock Pike.