|The following article is part of The Clinical Advisor’s coverage from the 2018 American Association of Nurse Practitioners’ annual meeting in Denver. Our staff will be reporting live on original research, case studies, and professional outreach and advocacy news from leading NPs in various therapeutic areas. Check back for ongoing updates from AANP 2018.|
DENVER — Los Angeles’ Christian Health Centers’ (LACHC) nurse practitioner-led hepatitis C virus (HCV) program is an effective example of improving HCV care in underserved populations, according to research presented at American Association of Nurse Practitioners 2018 National Conference.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) HCV guideline update in 2012 expanded HCV screening to one-time hepatitis testing, which led to more hepatitis diagnoses in primary care. Through the introduction of Project ECHO [Extension for Community Health Outcomes], primary care clinicians, specifically nurse practitioners, can master the skills needed to effectively treat HCV and serve patients in low-resource settings.
Shannon Fernando, FNP, of LACHC, described the center’s HCV screening program by explaining, “In October 2016, LACHC launched a nurse practitioner-led [HCV] testing, diagnosis and linkage to care program for three purposes: increase HCV screening amongst high risk populations and appropriate birth cohort per CDC guidelines, increase linkage to care for patients with HCV, and provide HCV treatment at the primary care level amongst high risk, difficult to treat populations.”
LACHC identifies patients eligible for HCV screening through the use of a modified electronic health record. A care coordinator to provide guidance and facilitates linkages to external care services. Participation in Project ECHO provides nurse practitioners with the ability to provide optimal care to their vulnerable patients with HCV, including those in homeless shelters and substance abuse programs.
The combination of services provided by LACHC with the educational development offered by Project ECHO will position nurse practitioners to contribute to the goal of elimination of HCV nationally.
For more information from AANP 2018, click here.
Fernando S. Nurse practitioner role in hepatitis c linkage to care and treatment in underserved populations at the primary care level. Presented at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners 2018 National Conference. June 26-July 1, 2018; Denver, CO. Poster presentation 108.