UA Nursing, Capstone Medical Center Bring Health Care to Parrish

Kathleen Williams, left, and Dr. Jeri Dunkin in front of Parrish health center.
Kathleen Williams, left, and Dr. Jeri Dunkin in front of Parrish health center.

For 17 months, Parrish residents were without local health care, but that changed in June when the Capstone Rural Health Center, operated by The University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing and UA’s Capstone Medical Center, opened in the rural Walker County town.

“Residents in less populated areas generally do not have easy access to health services, including health-related education,” said Dr. Jeri Dunkin, a professor of nursing and holder of UA’s Martha Saxon Memorial Endowed Presidential Chair position.

Following the closing of Parrish’s only health clinic in December 1999, its residents were forced to make the approximate 15-mile drive to Jasper for health care.

That’s one reason the Capstone Rural Health Center — made possible by a $1.2 million Health Resources Services Administration grant to the UA Capstone College of Nursing — is vital to the community, said Dunkin, the Center’s project director.

In addition to improving the health care access of community members, the center will enhance the education of UA’s nursing students by providing them with hands-on training for its senior and graduate-level students.

The Center is a nurse-managed facility with Kathleen Williams, a nurse practitioner and instructor in UA’s Capstone College of Nursing, providing primary health care services at the clinic.

Key community partners in the Center include the Alabama Public Health Department, the Rural Alabama Health Alliance, Rural Alabama Area Health Education Center, the mayor of Parrish, community business leaders, public schools, and community churches.