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Health care options expanding

Tim Croft
The Star

Early on, Monica Barfield dreamed of providing health care in a rural setting.

That dream takes full shape July 1.

Barfield will open New Horizons Primary Care that day, with an official ribbon-cutting, or rather “patient appreciation,” to follow at 5:30 p.m. ET July 6.

New Horizons is located at 202 W. U.S. 98 in Port St. Joe, the former location of the Port Wine and Spirits store, and will accept walk-ins and appointments.

{The transformation of that store into an office with plenty of lobby space and three patient rooms bathed in soft colors with local art on the walls is astounding).

“This is something Port St. Joe really needs,” said Esterlane O’Donnell.

Barfield is a nurse practitioner, or more specifically an Advance Practice Registered Nurse.

According to medical lingo, an APRN is a nurse who has a master’s, post-master’s certificate or a practice-focused doctor of nursing degree in one of four defined roles.

Take away the jargon and an APRN is allowed to do most “everything a doctor can do,” Barfield said.

Under current Florida law, an APRN must operate under the supervision of a medical doctor.

Barfield’s current supervising physician is Dr. Michael Barnes (do we really need to write ‘of Wewahitchka’?).

Barfield worked previously at PanCare in Port St. Joe and in the office of Dr. Vincent Ivers.

And a triggering event for her professional trajectory was Hurricane Michael.

“My career blossomed because I was available,” Barfield said. “I was very available even for people who were not my patient.”

Barfield was also named a 2020 Florida Woman of Distinction.

Something, though, remained missing.

Barfield wanted an office to call her own, where she could practice medicine the way she felt it should be practiced.

And she received a hand from the Florida Legislature during its most recent session.

A bill passed by the legislature and signed by the governor allows a nurse practitioner to operate without the direct supervision of a medical doctor.

The new takes effect July 1.

Date ring a bell?

On that date Barfield will officially open her practice to patients, old and new.

“I am really excited,” Barfield said. “My goal when I went to school was to be a nurse and work in a rural community.”

And while Michael fueled her path, it also provided a muse for the name of the facility.

“Post-hurricane, we wanted something that meant something,” Barfield said of selecting a name for her practice. “New horizons seemed to fit.

“Many people are looking for a new horizon after Michael and this is a new horizon for me.”

Barfield added that her walls will be home to art from local artists and she has brought on board several nurses whose faces are familiar to local patients, including Tina Smith and Karen Etheridge.

The phone number to New Horizons is 227-9220.