Former Miss Ohio opens a center


Ellen Spinner knows firsthand that people in rural areas sometimes neglect their own health.

By Natalie Morales Staff Writer

   MECHANICSBURG — Ellen Spinner exchanged her pageant crown for scrubs but never traded in her dreams of running a rural healthcare practice.
   Spinner, who is a certified nurse practitioner and held the Miss Ohio title in 1996, is starting a new health care business in the village and hopes to help improve overall health care in the area.
   Gentle Care Health Center will open its doors to patients Jan. 3 at its 15 N. Main St. location, the oldest business space in the village.
   Spinner, a certified nurse practitioner, will specialize in women’s health, including gynecology, wellness visits, pap smears, family planning and general needs for women of all ages.
   Chris Schiemann, also a certified nurse practitioner, will provide comprehensive health care to anyone 12 and older. She will offer general health physicals, employment and sports physicals, immunizations,
and urgent care needs.
   The Miss Ohio title gave Spinner much more than an opportunity at glistening jewelry and fancy dresses.
   The title provided Spinner scholarship money that allowed her to fulfill her educational goals of completing a nurse practitioner and master’s program at Ohio State University.
   With 10 years of nurse practitioner experience under her belt, Spinner said when the opportunity to open a practice became available, she couldn’t back away from the challenge.
   “Instead of going back to work for a bigger facility, I thought, ‘Why not take a leap of faith and go out on my own?’” she said.
   Spinner, 35, moved with her family to Mechanicsburg about six years ago.
   Spinner grew up in a small, southern Ohio town and always knew she wanted to open a rural health care center.
   “I saw how a lot of rural people neglected health care because other things were more important,” Spinner said. “There was always a reason why health care was on the back burner.”
   Some residents in rural areas are focused on providing for their families more than personal health, Champaign County Health District Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson said.
   “In a rural community, it’s not only important to have enough providers but to have enough providers in the right locations is just as important,” she said.
   Inability to pay for visits, inadequate or no insurance coverage and lack of transportation add to the difficulties in rural health, Hiddleson said.
   “It’s very important to have primary care providers instead of (having residents receive) sporadic care through urgent care or emergency services,” she said. “Not only are the services more costly to the community, they are often more costly to families in the long run.”
   Though she is contracted Medicare, Medicaid and with insurance companies — including Anthem, Medical Mutual and United Health Care — Spinner also will accept outof-pocket payments and work with patients on payment plans or barter arrangements.
   “I wanted to own the practice to make sure every decision that was made was in line with my ethics and moral code,” Spinner said. “If somebody wants to barter for health care I will say, ‘Fine, what can we do?’”
   Schiemann will accept out-ofpocket payments or schedule payment plans.
   The office will be one of three that the county health district has on record as offering women’s health care services, and Spinner said she hopes to help the village and surrounding areas by providing a closer option.
   “When you think about access to care, you think about whether there are enough providers to go around for the people in the community, and in our situation that answer is no,” Hiddleson said.
   “For a lot of women, the only primary care provider they see regularly is their OB/GYN.”
   Health care options are available in Clark and other surrounding counties but the commute is not always a viable option for patients, Spinner said.
   “People shouldn’t have to go to Columbus or Springfield for health care,” she said. “The should be able to go where they live.”
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