Monkton native brings OB service to Bristol’s Mountain Health Center

BRISTOL — Mountain Health Center in Bristol is expanding its women’s health services at the same time as it is announcing a nearly $50,000 infusion of federal money.
“Effective immediately, Mountain Health Center will begin offering obstetrical services for vaginal birth deliveries and long-term contraception, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and the Nexplanon implant, an under-the-skin birth control method that lasts for up to three years,” said Martha Halnon, executive director of Mountain Health, which operates as a Federally Qualified Health Center, or FQHC.
Mountain Health Center adds these new services to its long-time women’s health offerings, including preventive health examinations, pap smears, referrals for mammography and bone density scans, and the prescription of birth control pills and Depo-Provera injections.
Family physician Renee Bratspis, M.D., said Mountain Health is excited to expand women’s health services, which she said will offer “one-stop shopping” for prevention, pre- and post-natal care, childbirth and contraception.
“We also expect that it will allow us to expand our pediatric services, as those newborns transition seamlessly to our family doctors,” she added.
Bratspis joined Mountain Health Center in November 2016. In addition to the training in delivering babies she received during her family medicine residency program, Bratspis completed an additional year of training in obstetrics. She has privileges at Porter Medical Center to independently perform vaginal births and to assist Porter obstetricians in doing cesarean sections.
Bratspis, a Monkton native, was valedictorian of the class of 2004 at Mount Abraham Union High School and is the daughter of a local veterinarian and a physical therapist.
“Since middle school, all Renee wanted to do was become a doctor and practice medicine at Mountain Health Center,” said Mountain Health Medical Director Frank Provato.
In addition to Bratspis, several other medical providers at Mountain Health participate in women’s health services, including Marian Bouchard, M.D.; Jeff Wulfman, M.D.; Suzanne Germain, ANP (adult nurse practitioner); and Amber Jimerson, FNP (family nurse practitioner).
Word of the expanded women’s health services came just before U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., last week announced that 11 FQHCs in Vermont received $816,251 to help improve access to affordable health care. The federal grants are part of $105 million in funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration awarded throughout the country.
Five-Town Health Alliance Inc., which operates under the name Mountain Health Center, was tapped for a $49,412 payout.
Another FSHC, Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region, received funding of $111,325 as part of the announcement. This center operates the Shorewell Community Health Center in Shoreham and the Brandon Medical Center in Brandon.
More than 155,000 Vermonters — about one in four people in Vermont — obtain health care at federally funded community health centers.
“Community health centers not only provide high-quality and affordable care where it’s needed and when it’s needed, they do it in a very cost-effective way,” said Sanders, the ranking member of the Senate subcommittee on primary health and a strong supporter of community health centers.
FQHCs provide a range of services and access to low-cost prescription drugs. They accept patients with Medicare, Medicaid, military insurance, private insurance, and no insurance at all. Vermonters without insurance can pay on a sliding scale, according to their income.
Last Thursday’s funding announcement came during “National Health Center Week.”
Mountain Health Center was started as a local family practice in the mid-1980s by Dr. Ed Clark and his wife, Suzanne, a nurse practitioner. In 2012, the practice became an FQHC, which allows it to take advantage of state and federal subsidies and provide care across the economic spectrum. Mountain Health Center provides acute and chronic care for injuries and illnesses and prevention services for children, adolescents and adults. In addition, Mountain Health Center offers on-site mental health counseling, a full-service dental clinic, and alternative/complementary practices such as acupuncture.
For more information, call 453-5028.

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