I had the pleasure of sitting down with Chelsey Lesniak, MSN, APN, FNP-BC, and her clinical manager, Jami Kordecki, to learn about Pure Family Healthcare and their efforts to reshape the local healthcare scene. Fortunately for me, no cold stethoscopes were required for this visit.
Pure Family Healthcare…Outside Big Box Medicine
Pure Family Healthcare is a private practice wellness provider located in Crystal Lake. They opened their doors in 2020 with a specific focus of providing not just another choice of healthcare providers, but an alternative approach.
You don’t have to be steeped in the medical community to notice the consolidation that has been happening over recent years, with more and more offices, urgent cares, and even hospitals getting pulled under one corporate umbrella or another.
I’m certainly not claiming this as a good or bad thing, as often is the case, there’s probably a little bit of both involved.
Address: 750 E Terra Cotta Ave Ste A, Crystal Lake, IL 60014
Pure Family Healthcare was started specifically to try and get outside of that by making a conscious effort to see the individual, and family even, as a unique whole being. A being with its own sets of values, beliefs, and specific desires with regard to healthcare. They understand that some patients wish to follow a more “traditional” approach to their healthcare…what medications are available, is there an antibiotic available, and so on. But there are also patients who wish to pursue more natural paths and leave traditional medication as a secondary option, if necessary.
Chelsey feels there is often a perception, and a persona adopted by some physicians, that patients are just supposed to follow “doctor’s orders.” She wanted to break out from that formula to create a collaborative environment where patients can feel safe to ask questions and share their thoughts and have a say in their own healthcare, based on information and recommendations, not directives.
Ultimately, Chelsey and Jami wanted to make Pure Family Healthcare a place that keeps you healthy, happy, safe, and makes people feel very comfortable.
Nurse Practitioner with Full Practice Authority
Chelsey is a nurse practitioner, which may be a new term to you or at least one without full understanding. It is at least a question that Chelsey and Jami said they hear often. Making things more challenging, it is a term, at least in specifics, that may mean different things depending on the state you are in.
Illinois provides the opportunity for nurse practitioners to attain what is called “full practice authority,” which as Chelsey explained, “There’s nothing that a primary care physician can do that I cannot.” What it does mean is that these are different training paths and requirements that can be pursued, though as Chelsey pointed out, due to how the different programs are structured, a nurse practitioner will probably have direct contact with patients longer over the course of their education than a physician will during their education.
Chelsey’s path included twelve years as an ER-ICU nurse, and another five years doing flight nursing and ER-ICU nursing. During that time she finished a master’s degree and then spent two more years in residency, at which point she was able to seek her full practice authority. On top of that, she recently went on to do over 200 hours of specialty education in endocrinology and is now a member of the nurse practitioner endocrinology specialist group.
Perhaps more importantly, Chelsey views the two paths as being very different in approach. She sees the physician path as being very clinical, medical, and scientifically focused. Whereas the nurse practitioner path, and certainly the approach adopted by Pure, in her opinion, is more collaborative and focused on the patient as a whole, looking at the entirety of their healthcare.
This view may simply come down to perspective and I imagine there may be physicians and nurse practitioners on both sides of the line. However, I have no doubt that Chelsey would more than welcome having that conversation with prospective patients and letting them make the determination that works for them.
Pure’s offering is founded on family practice, primary care, with some urgent care, and now specialization in endocrinology. Chelsey feels that, with her extensive background in the ER, she may handle more patients’ needs where other primary care providers might refer patients to urgent care. Similarly, with regard to endocrinology, she is now able to help patients who otherwise might have been referred to an endocrinology specialist.
Pure also provides additional services that extend beyond the traditional primary care offering, including IV nutrition therapy and medical aesthetics. IV rejuvenation and nutrition therapies include a number of specialized offerings aimed at boosting the immune system or aiding recovery through essential vitamin and mineral injections.
Their medical aesthetics offering provides dermal fillers, Botox injections, as well as medical-grade skincare. They’ve even created monthly Beauty Socials where patients can socialize with friends over hors d’oeuvres, a glass of champagne, and the latest in medical aesthetics and rejuvenation injections. Definitely not your everyday doctor’s office visit.
They feel these service offerings are one aspect that sets their practice apart from the more traditional healthcare providers. But all of that is combined with all of the traditional services you expect from your healthcare provider, like wellness check-ups and preventive care, flu shots, illness or injury, physicals, managing chronic conditions, and more.
Meeting Patient Needs
Of course, patients have more needs than just their health needs. Like other primary care providers, they accept insurance, although, at the time of our meeting, they don’t handle HMO coverage. That aside, Jami said that they have a number of patients who pay for their service directly, and just rely on their insurance to cover the costs of their blood work, lab tests, X-rays, and medications.
Every patient’s needs and situations are different, and Chelsey and Jami are happy to help patients sort through insurance options, provide reasonable cash pay rates, or even minimize costs when possible through telehealth visits.
Another area that is important to them is working hard to provide same-day appointments whenever possible, which leads us to some direct advice from Chelsey…
The last couple years, dealing with COVID, has presented unprecedented challenges to both our healthcare system as well as people’s approach to healthcare. There has been a lot of shocking advice on social media recommending people to go to urgent care or even the ER, for non-urgent needs, including calling an ambulance under the notion that it would help “bypass” long ER lines. Even when you have insurance, urgent care visits often come at a higher cost, and in many cases, with much higher co-pays. And while the ambulance may get you to the ER quicker, how quickly you are seen is still determined based on your condition and needs, relative to the condition and needs of everyone else waiting to be seen.
This is NOT to say that you shouldn’t go to urgent care or the ER if that is what is needed. It’s really about reconciling the needs with the right provider.
Unfortunately, much of the public has been told directly to “just run to your nearest urgent care,” or taught indirectly to go down this path after being told the earliest their primary care provider could see them was in three weeks.
So find a primary care provider that you feel comfortable with and who is willing to see you when you need to be seen and leave urgent care and the ER for when it truly is urgent or an emergency.Chelsey’s Advice on Urgent Care
While Pure Family Healthcare was started in the middle of this great pandemic we have all found ourselves working through, Chelsey said that her plans to start Pure pre-dated COVID. But challenges come up, everyday ones as well as pandemic ones, and sometimes the best time to launch a new business is whenever you can.
As many of us have experienced, COVID has had a peculiar challenge around healthcare. On one hand, at times, it has nearly crippled our healthcare system, creating an overwhelming demand. But on the other hand, it choked off demand, either as people were encouraged to hold off on unnecessary visits, or as patients themselves felt uneasy about returning to a medical office.
So, like many other businesses, Pure has adapted to the challenges to best serve the public as best they could during these unprecedented challenges.
One approach, they said, was to take a different path than many of the other healthcare providers took. They said that they decided they would see patients with upper respiratory infections without requiring a negative COVID test first. Chelsey said, “Other practices in the area either won’t see you if you have an upper respiratory infection or will make you go to the urgent care to get a COVID test before being seen.”
Jami said that they recommend anyone experiencing COVID symptoms should get tested, but, they’ve also had patients who either didn’t want to get tested or were having trouble getting one. But who still needed or wanted to get in to see Chelsey. So rather than referring them to urgent care, they could have them come in and even get tested in the office if need be.
Fortunately, Chelsey and Jami said they’ve seen a noticeable shift lately. Now they are getting the “healthy visits,” people coming in again for physicals, annual checkups, as well as sinus infections and the usual needs.
“It has been a huge challenge,” said Chelsey, “and finding that niche where patients are comfortable coming to see you in this day and age is really hard. But we are very committed to meeting people where they’re at and making sure that they’re taken care of regardless of their symptoms.”
Call to Nursing
As for what called Chelsey into nursing, she said, “I was very young and had no idea what I was getting into, to be completely honest with you. My dad at the time said I was an adrenaline junkie and I had to do something with my life, but I have no regrets with that.”
I think this is a fair and honest answer.
Of course, we often imagine some great calling, where someone has known all their life what they were going to do when they “grow up.” But if we’re honest with ourselves, is that really how it usually goes? I think, more often than not, most of us are continually seeking that out, and it is often only in hindsight when we look back that we see the critical paths we’ve taken.
As for what led her specifically to become a nurse practitioner, that was a very specific moment in time…
Chelsey recalled that they were on a family vacation in Maine, visiting an artist’s studio. While the artist was showing them around the studio and her art, there was suddenly the sound of breaking glass. As it turned out, the artist’s sons were wrestling around and one son accidentally put his hand through a plate glass window.
Unfortunately, he had lacerated several tendons in his hand, which alone would be an alarming situation. However, he also had a college scholarship to play the piano. Being an ER nurse at the time, Chelsey was able to stop the bleeding, clean out the wound, and bandage him up. An unfortunate accident, but fortunate that Chelsey was there.
End of the story…not quite.
Chelsey informed the artist that her son would need to be seen by a hand surgeon and asked about a local doctor or urgent care. Being in the middle of Maine, at that time at least, the nearest urgent care was two hours away, and as for a town doctor, only in town on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
So after helping to locate the closest hand surgeon, she helped the family into the car as they headed off on a seven and half hour car ride. Whether there was a clear calling at the outset of Chelsey’s long career in nursing, at that moment at least, the path forward was clearly illuminated. She continued on the journey to becoming a nurse practitioner, leading her to where she is today. But she still sees this as a continuing journey, possibly, one day starting a rural practice so that others don’t have to face being several hours away from medical care.
Today, Tomorrow, and Measuring Success
Today, Pure Family Healthcare has one location in Crystal Lake, which is open three days a week. As for staff, it’s Chelsey, Jami, and Elizabeth, a medical assistant. But they have plenty of space to grow into.
They service a wide range of patients, ranging from around six months up to 97 years of age. And their patients run the gamut, from those seeking more traditional medicine to those seeking a more natural treatment approach, as well as those who are primarily seeking out the medical aesthetics and other alternative services they offer. No two days are the same.
As for the future, Chelsey said she would love to extend their hours to better serve their patients, perhaps adding weekends. As they continue to grow, she also sees potentially bringing in another provider and/or possibly adding another location.
So What Does Success Look Like?
Chelsey feels that success will primarily be measured by her patients. She said, “I think when I look ahead at my schedule and I see a mixture in a month…let’s say I look at a day and I see a mixture of patients that are coming to see me, that are new, that are existing and coming back for follow-ups, and that are bringing their friends and family…which we have a ton of that right now. I think that, to me, defines success in family practice because it says that you’re doing all the right things.”
Sounds like a pretty good metric.
Nursing is this really interesting career because there are so many different things you can do with it. If you don’t like hospital-based nursing, you can be in an office, you can be a school nurse, and you can go on to be a nurse practitioner. There’s so many different things that you can do within the same licensure group.Chelsey’s Bonus Tip for Those In or Considering Nursing
Being Part of the Community
Chelsey and Jami are both married to firemen, so between that and their role as healthcare providers, they feel a strong connection and role to the community. As a practice, they also help sponsor the Johnny Appleseed Festival, participate in local parades and Expos, and even sponsor a little league team.
Whatever your health needs, I know they would welcome you into their community as well. Be sure to check Pure Family Healthcare out.
Pure Family Healthcare Sweepstakes
A huge thank you to Pure Family Healthcare for sponsoring our sweepstakes, and thank you to all who entered. We’ll be connecting with and awarding our winner soon and will post over on the main sweepstakes page.