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A Conversation with Katrina ThomaDirector of medical services, Sadler Health Center

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Katrina Thoma
Katrina Thoma - (Photo / )

Katrina Thoma, 56, was recently appointed director of medical services at Sadler Health Center in Carlisle, which she joined in 2010 as a pediatric nurse practitioner.

Before that, she spent nearly 20 years at Penn State Children’s Hospital/Hershey Medical Center. She also has both active and reserve military nursing experience.

Thoma has a bachelor’s degree in registered nursing from Immaculata University, a master’s degree in nursing from Thomas Jefferson University and a doctorate in public health from Capella University.

She and her wife reside in Landisburg.

Q: What perspective do your years as a nurse practitioner give you as an administrator?

A: I’m more likely to see things in a more holistic fashion. For example, a patient with so many no-shows, someone else might say, should be kicked out of the practice. I look at it as, have we done anything to help them, to understand why they’re no-showing? How do we help them realize that, if you can’t make your appointment, give us a phone call, it’s OK. We’re here to serve anyone who walks in this door. What message do we send if we tell them they can’t be seen? I understand that it hurts us on one hand but there’s that part of me that needs to give the benefit of the doubt.

What impact do community health centers such as Sadler have on the areas they serve?

It primarily serves the underserved, underinsured, uninsured population, so many times we’re the only place to go with the kind of insurance they have. This population tends to be problematic in that it’s people that have just gotten insurance, they’ve been out of getting any health care for a number of years, and now they have problems that are behind the eight ball already.

We find resources for them to help get their other needs met, sending them to places to get help for their children and things like that. We don’t look at just the patient, we look at their whole community and where they’re coming from.

How has the role of community health centers changed under the Affordable Care Act?

The only thing the Affordable Care Act has really changed for us is it’s given a boatload of people insurance so they can actually get care. But it’s always been about access to care for people who would not normally get access. We have a sliding fee, so people who are living 200 percent below poverty level, they’re paying a $5 copay. If they can’t pay at all, we still deal with that. The Affordable Care Act has actually just increased the number of patients who have insurance. We jumped from 7,300 patients to 9,800 patients in the last two years.

What is the strangest case you've ever dealt with?

I had a four-year-old boy who had three little figures up his nose. He said, I put the guy up my nose and couldn’t get him back out, so I sent the policeman up after him, and then when the policeman couldn’t come back out I had to send the fireman. I looked at his mom and said, “Thank God he didn’t stick the fire truck up there too.”

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