GETTING TO KNOW – After volunteering for St. Vincent de Paul Village in San Diego years ago as a tutor and then in the organization’s clinic, Ballston Spa resident Maurya Datka realized she loved helping people medically.
So, while she had a degree from Skidmore College in biology, she decided to head back to school to become a nurse.
For the last 20 years she’s worked in various capacities at Ellis Medicine, beginning as a patient care technician in the emergency room in 2002. She obtained her associate degree in nursing in 2005, and was a registered nurse in the ER until 2017, before helping to open Primary Care Plus in the old St. Clare’s ER.
It was there that she helped with the same day sick/walk-in clinic until Primary Care Plus closed and she moved over to the Family Health Center where she continued working in the sick/walk-in clinic.
Datka’s experience in the emergency room and then in the clinic made her realize the need for access and ensuring people have a primary care physician, particularly in areas that may be considered economically disadvantaged.
Q: What was your motivation behind getting undoctored people — people without doctors — to primary care physicians and keeping them out of the emergency room.
A: For me the concept behind the walk in/same day sick clinic is to allow every sick visit to be an opportunity for wellness. So, you present for a sick visit but [we’d ask] do you have a primary care doctor? Are you taking your meds? Have you been in for a physical? Have you been following up on your chronic condition? It’s just a different approach I thought could be useful after seeing it in the ER.
Q: In what ways do you think the health care system could be better at helping economically disadvantaged neighborhoods?
A: I think access is huge. It’s really about people, it’s about real lives. You have work, you have kids, you have home, you have family, you have finances, you have school and then where do you fit in your health — you have all of these other things. So often we worry about our health when things are changing so having a place where you can go when all of a sudden health becomes a top priority, having some place you can walk in and hopefully get established I think in the middle of the community I think is one place we can help.
Q: In what ways are you helping families get their children vaccinated?
A: That is really just a group effort. Hometown health has people embedded in the schools. All of the nurses over there are just trying to reach out to families to get the kids into school, staying in school. So we do a vaccination clinic every September, along with the Family Health Center and the residents here at the Family Health Center. We allow kids who have not been vaccinated, they just come in — first come first served and we get them vaccinated.
Q: What would you say is one of the biggest challenges you see on a day-to-day basis?
A: I think that one of the biggest things I find challenging or frustrating in the state of health care and my job today is really just the lack of focus or the knowledge or the education on the power of primary care. COVID really [put our focus] on acute issues and I think now we’re looking at the need for more ICU space, we need more ventilators, but so many emergencies like strokes, heart, respiratory issues, overdoses, there are so many details that led up to that event.
Q: What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a nurse?
A: I can only say I’ve met and been inspired by so many people, so many co-workers, so many patients and COVIDmade a lot of people rethink their decisions about their place in health care, but I feel like it made me double down on mine. I know that health care is an uphill battle in so many ways, but like any other right it’s really worth fighting for.