For family nurse practitioner Mendy Sharpe, education is key to unlocking good health.
Sharpe began working at the Grant County Health Department in John Day in December. She and her family moved to Prairie City from Austin, Texas, where she grew up.
Sharpe was a critical care nurse for most of her nursing career, working while finishing studies to become a family nurse practitioner. She spent five years in critical care, working in urgent care and as a home health nurse, but most of her experience was in a hospital setting.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of younger people, but also older people who had exacerbations from chronic diseases,” she said. “My goal is to prevent, as much as possible.”
Catching health problems early can help patients have the best outcome possible.
“If they get that education, it empowers them to make better decisions regarding their health,” she said.
Sharpe also tries to educate herself, learning new things and keeping herself up to date in her field, she said.
She enjoys working at the health clinic and said there are good resources available for such a small area. She noted having the mental health clinic, Community Counseling Solutions, attached to the health department was rare.
“Here at the health department, we have family planning services with access to contraceptives,” she said, as well as resources for those who are pregnant, such as the WIC program, or those who would like to become pregnant.
She said they now take laboratory work at the health department, and their morning and evening hours are geared more toward urgent care.
When she’s not working, Sharpe said she enjoys spending time with her family.
This includes her husband, David, an Army veteran who attends school full-time, working on a bachelor’s degree in informational technology. His five-plus years in the military included deployment to Iraq.
She and David have two children, son David, 11, and daughter London, 6. Mendy said they’ve enjoyed going to the movies out of town and taking vacations to visit other states.
A draw to the area for the Sharpes was having family and friends nearby in Eugene, northern California and Washington — as well as the weather.
“Now that the weather is starting to warm up, we want to start doing outdoor activities and find places to hike and go camping,” she said.
Sharpe said she is enjoying the close-knit community.
“Everybody is really friendly, and you don’t always get that in a bigger city,” she said.
The health department, located at 528 E. Main St., Ste. E, is open 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. On Fridays, the health department is open 8 to 5 p.m. with no providers available on that day.
For more information, call 541-575-0429.