Nurse practitioner serves North Routt neighbors
On a Sunday evening with bad weather, when a young child was suffering from a bad ear ache, nurse practitioner Elizabeth Kirt was there for her North Routt County neighbors.
Available seven days a week if needed, Kirt serves local community members as a sort of de facto medical clinic option in North Routt. And, yes, she can make house calls.
“Knowing there is somebody local is reassuring to people,” Kirt said. “I’m happy to offer North Routt residents the convenience and accessibility of having a local provider in their community. Whatever people need, if I’m available to do it, I’ll do it.”
With a master’s degree in nursing and a specialty as a family nurse practitioner, Kirt is a mid-level practitioner who is able to diagnose, treat and prescribe medications similar to a physician. In addition to making house calls when necessary, Kirt has a medical office in her home for patients to see her.
At her office, she offers specialized treatments such as infrared sauna and ozone therapy. She also serves about 75% of her patients via telemedicine video calls through her practice called Integrative Healthcare of Colorado, which she established in March 2018.
“She’s a wonderful person and wonderful clinician,” Meg Holpuch, a naturopathic doctor in Steamboat Springs, said of Kirt. “She does have a skill set that a lot of nurse practitioners don’t have, combining conventional and holistic medicine. She has a wealth of knowledge. I definitely send patients to her, especially for chronic illness.”
Kirt’s focus is on holistic and integrative medicine including supplements and lifestyle changes. She can help patients with everything from prescription refills for blood pressure medication, to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, to treatments for chronic illnesses such as Lyme disease, toxic mold exposure and long-term COVID-19.
Part of Kirt’s empathy and sympathy for chronic disease patients stems from the fact that she suffers from Lyme disease too, which she said was transferred in utero by her mom. She also dealt with health concerns from toxic mold exposure from a past residence, and she struggled to find a physician who could diagnose her correctly. Traditional doctors told her to take Benadryl and get a mental evaluation, she said. Now, she helps diagnose other patients in the same boat by ordering screenings for micro-toxins from mold in patient urine samples.
Kirt, 41, previously served as interim director of nursing and a registered nurse at Casey’s Pond Senior Living from 2013 to 2020. At the same time, she completed her nurse practitioner training remotely in 2017 from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.
“I’ve known Liz to be a warm heart, a true believer in helping and assisting others, placing others’ needs before her own,” said Brad Boatright, Casey’s Pond executive director. “She was well-respected by her peers and always there to lend an extra hand or support them any way she could.”
The Minnesota native, who has lived in Colorado since 2005, said she prides herself professionally on her skills as a compassionate, caring, inquisitive and resourceful nurse practitioner.
When Kirt added telehealth care to her practice as the COVID-19 pandemic started, like many people, she wondered how that might work out. She said telehealth is becoming accepted by all types of patients and can be successful when clinicians ask the right questions.
“I just love helping my patients, and telehealth has been really great for providers and for patients,” she said. “It’s been really neat to see progression of telehealth during the pandemic.”
Since she lives in a rural area, she also knows how difficult it may be for rural patients to find accessible, appropriate medical care, and that is where nurse practitioners can provide a boost.
“Nurse practitioners are really kind of filling that void for medical doctors especially in rural places. Nurse practitioners are really picking up the pieces,” Kirt said.
Despite being a busy, married mom of a 2-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son, Kirt is continuing her training to help meet patients’ needs. In August, she will start a one-year, post-graduate program remotely for psych/mental health nurse practitioner certification from Johns Hopkins University. She received a tuition grant from the nonprofit Colorado Center of Nursing Excellence awarded to practitioners who live and practice in rural areas to complete the additional training.
While working with patients with alcohol abuse, anxiety, and depression issues, Kirt has seen a need to help treat other mental health issues such as bipolar and personality disorders.
“Within my patient population, it was really hard for me to refer to mental health services, and it took a long time to get an appointment,” she explained.
Kirt does not accept health insurance, and her cash payment visits range from $50 to $200. For more information, visit IntegrativeHealthColorado.com.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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