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My name is Iris Zink and in August 2016, my husband and I opened an Early Arthritis Intervention Clinic in East Lansing, Michigan. A nurse practitioner owned and operated clinic, with core nursing values and care in mind we provide unique care to our patients. The notion of the clinic was sparked by the overwhelming need of the community, fueled by my 16-year career as a rheumatology nurse practitioner and was confirmed with a dream that has turned into reality.
As the previous president of the Rheumatology Nurses Society, I have had the unique opportunity to travel on a weekly basis to rheumatology conferences, participate in advisory boards with other key opinion leaders within the industry and present lecture materials so that other rheumatology experts can provide high-quality evidence-based care to their patients. As I travel nationally and lecture to groups of healthcare professionals, I say “The biologic medications for arthritis are so amazing that someday we will forget how deforming and disabling arthritis used to be”. Someday is here, we can serve those patients in a timely manner. There is a body of evidence suggesting that early intervention is the key to preventing the three D’s of arthritic and autoimmune disease: deformity, disability, and death.
In March of 2016, after being approached by several area physicians to take over two different rheumatology practices in the Lansing area, my thoughts were racing. I considered their offers, helped develop a plan, and prayed about it. Then, I had a dream. In my dream, Dr. Carol Beals, my former employer, Dr. Niti Thakur, a previous partner of Dr. Beals, along with my deceased mother told me that my purpose in life was to open an arthritis clinic to serve the underserved. It sounds funny, but this dream sealed the deal and we moved forward with our plan. Since opening, our practice has grown greatly, with now three healthcare providers and a registered nurse along with a fully functional infusion center.
We are helping people every day. I have had the opportunity to serve young mothers who could barely diaper their infant or climb stairs. I have seen them get better with medication. I have had veterans thank me for allowing them to perform simple tasks again such as opening a water bottle, for giving them their life back.
My husband Chris Title is also a nurse practitioner and sees patients in our clinic with the same mission in mind. Chris is passionate about helping people and has been instrumental in the operations of the clinic and with serving those individuals who are homebound. He is so devoted that he has performed home visits and transported patients to and from the office for treatment.
Our practice and office are like a home away from home for our patients. We pride ourselves in making the office look like a home space, rather than a medical office. This is our dream, helping people, serving the underserved along with treating people well. I have been blessed with this opportunity. Our practice manager, Amy Lienhart says, “What we are doing here is bigger than all us. We aren’t just seeing patients, we are treating people”. We are living our dream.