Photo Credit Camilo Morales
Building on Culver's successful wellness formula
January 7, 2016

Culver’s Health Center is in a great spot for getting well, a bit away from the bustle of the main campus, in a nice, shady, quiet area. It’s relaxing and, for students and campers on the mend, you could say it’s just what the doctor ordered.

But that doesn’t mean the health care professionals in the Health Center aren’t part of what makes Culver Culver.

Just ask Melissa Ilg, Culver’s new nurse practitioner.

Nurse Practitioner Melissa Ilg goes over a medical chart with Dr. Warren Reiss.

Nurse Practitioner Melissa Ilg goes over a medical chart with Dr. Warren Reiss.

Ilg, who goes by Lisa and calls students “the kiddos,” has been on campus since April 2015 and was at Woodcraft Camp through the past summer. She was joined in fall 2015 by Dr. Noemi Adame, Culver’s new medical director, and Dr. Rebecca Brice, who will be the associate physician at the Health Center. Ilg and the nursing staff handle health care for Woodcraft Camp, and Adame filled that role for Upper Camp.

Ilg, who has two nieces who graduated from Culver, said a lot of the framework of caring for the students and campers at Culver was already in place thanks to Doctors Michael Deery and Warren Reiss, who retired from their Culver practice at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

“Doctor Reiss started a wonderful empathetic program here. The kiddos understand it’s safe here,” she said. “I’m just here to build on greatness.”

And that’s one of the main things that Adame likes about Culver. The system was already running well, she says, and the machine just needs “a little oil here and there.”

“Any changes I’ve made so far have been greeted with positivity, because the goal is to always improve,” Adame said.

That includes being invested in what is going on around campus, Ilg says. For example, being in touch with counselors, teachers, and coaches will help on a case-by-case basis. By hearing the concerns of the faculty and staff, who are on the front end, the Health Center staff can deal more effectively with their patients while at the same time respecting their privacy and confidences.

This aligns with Adame’s passion for evidence-based medicine. The protocols the Health Center puts in place ensures that all the health care the staff delivers is evidence-based and follows nationally recommended guidelines.

“Everything we do is justifiable and defendable in a scientific sense,” Adame says. “I think it’s very important for families to know that everything we do is backed by evidence.”

Adame’s background is as a hospitalist. She cared for children who were admitted to the hospital and she primarily practiced in an intermediate care unit, which is the unit one step below an intensive care unit. One way to describe a lot of patients at that stage is that they were sick, but they also need to be evaluated based on their underlying medical problems that needed treatment.

That kind of evaluation and judgment informs the way she cares for students at Culver. A child may simply have a fever, but the causes can be quite varied. So Adame begins by thinking about what the most serious causes can be and working down, so as not to miss anything, but also to determine if her patient can be treated here or needs to be transferred to an emergency room.

These challenges of caring for so many different teenagers with so many different needs is one Brice is ready to take on.

“You’re dealing with adolescents, which is challenging,” she says, “and doing it without their parents [nearby].”

But Brice knows a thing or two about challenges. She spent three years in Ecuador practicing medicine through Samaritan’s Purse at a hospital about five hours away from the edge of the jungle.

Hopefully health crises are few and far between, but when it comes to the minor annoyances, that’s also where Ilg comes in. Part of her role is to provide care between sick calls. This way, an ailing student or camper doesn’t always have to wait until the afternoon sick call. That also alleviates the number of patients waiting to be seen at sick call.

Ilg went on to say that sometimes a patient may need care for something that isn’t as acute as a cold or virus; perhaps there is something that is a complication from a thyroid disorder, or there’s a family history of a particular condition that needs to be treated differently.

“That’s nice when you can get the kids back on track” right away, she said. In the end, that’s the goal, getting the kiddos back on track (not to mention some adults, no doubt: Ilg and Brice can also treat adult patients. Adame is strictly a pediatrician).

One change Brice says is going to help a great deal is electronic records. A patient’s medical history will be a lot more organized and will be updated more quickly and improve communication between staff members who may all see the same patient, albeit at different times.

Meet the staff:

As a nurse practitioner, Melissa “Lisa” Ilg (inset photo, left) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who has completed advanced coursework and clinical education beyond that required of the generalist registered nurse role.

In addition to providing medical care to students, Ilg will also be expanding the services of the Health Center to promote health and wellness in the student and camp populations.

A nurse for 40 years, Ilg has experience in virtually every area of pediatrics. She achieved her advanced practice degree in 2005 from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, and previously had served as a nurse practitioner in an urgent care setting in Peru, Illinois.

A graduate, with honors, of the University of Texas, Dr. Noemi Adame (top photo, left) has served as a pediatric hospitalist in an academic hospital within the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Texas, where she was also an adjunct faculty member, and an associate professor for the pediatric hospitalist program.

Adame is a native Spanish-speaker, growing up in South Texas with Mexican immigrant parents. She has cared for patients across the pediatric spectrum from newborn to young adulthood and from wellness to critical care. She is married and has two children. In addition to being medical director at Culver, she is on staff at the Lake Shore Clinic in Culver.

A graduate of The College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University-Chicago, Dr. Rebecca Brice (top photo, right) completed her residency program at Saint Joseph Family Residency in South Bend, Indiana. In addition, she completed a fellowship in obstetrics from the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Previously, she was medical staff president in 2013-14 at Indiana University Health White Memorial Hospital in Monticello, Indiana.

Brice is passionate about mission work and has served in Ecuador with World Medical Mission International. She has experience in the inpatient as well as outpatient settings and is also fluent in Spanish.

Married with three children, Brice works full time as a Family Practice physician at the Lake Shore Clinic.

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Posted in Alumni Magazine Extra
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