CFVH welcomes 2 new providers
by Ed Moreth, The Sanders County Ledger
Clark Fork Valley Hospital has two new full-time medical professionals, although one is no stranger to local patients.
Physician Assistant Randy Mack has lived in Plains since 2002, when he first started at the hospital's Plains Family Medicine office, a job he held for 12 years before he left to show his medical proficiency in Hawaii and Washington. However, Mack returned to the Clark Fork Valley Hospital system in January, now working at Hot Springs Family Medicine.
New to the medical staff is Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Alexandra Flerchinger, a Primary Care Provider and one of two APRNs. "She will fulfill a primary care role as well as fulfill other urgent care needs and provider coverage across our Family Medicine Network offices in Plains, Thompson Falls and Hot Springs," said Dr. Gregory Hanson, the hospital president and CEO. Flerchinger is currently contracted through 2021. Hanson explained that the hospital has been searching for a physician to provide both primary care and obstetrical services since the departure of Dr. Drue Webb last year. "We felt Alexandra would be a great addition to our team and meet the current primary care needs we are facing while we continue our search for a full time physician who can also support our OB program," Hanson said.
Flerchinger has been practicing medicine for almost 27 years. She became a registered nurse in 1994 and obtained her advanced nurse practitioner certification eight years later. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Whitworth College in Spokane and graduated in 1994 from Gonzaga University with a Master of Science in nursing.
Flerchinger's medical career began in 1994 as a registered nurse at Benewah Community Hospital in St. Maries, Idaho. During her time there, she served as the OB coordinator and established the Newborn Hearing Screening Program and the Growing Families Support Services at the hospital. She was also the pediatric and adult CPR educator and regularly volunteered at the St. Maries Community Clinic for the uninsured.
She was in Polson for 15 years, where she worked at the Lake County Health Department, the Polson Health of Kalispell Regional Health Center and at St. Joseph Medical Clinic. She spent the last year doing urgent care at the Multicare Rockwood Urgent Care Center in Spokane and the Rockwood Spokane Valley Primary Care.
"I am a nurse and proud of my nursing background," said Flerchinger, who was born and raised in Libby and was inspired by her grandmother, also a nurse. "She cared deeply for her family and the community and had a very strong work ethic. Nurses were in demand at the time and I wanted to help people as well," said Flerchinger, whose husband, Steve Flerchinger, has worked at Clark Fork Valley Hospital for over 13 years and is the manager of the Diagnostic Imaging Department.
"The body is pretty amazing and I enjoy learning how it works and how we can optimize its functioning. I appreciate both the challenges of science and the caring aspect of health care." She added that she enjoys creating relationships with patients and their families as they work together toward their health and wellness. "My goal is to empower patients through education and motivation so that they are able to take an active role when making their personal healthcare decisions," said Flerchinger, who is enrolled in the Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist program in an effort to educate patients about nutrition as a treatment and prevention strategy for an optimum health outcome.
Mack received a Bachelor of Science degree from Pensacola Christian College in Florida in 1988 and a Master of Sports Science from the United States Sports Academy in Alabama in 1990. Eight years later, he received his physician assistant certification from the University of Washington Medex Physician Assistant program in Yakima, Wash. He has a physician assistant license in Hawaii, Washington and Montana.
Mack was born in Puerto Rico, where his parents were missionaries at a small mission, but while still an infant, his family purchased a ranch in northeast Washington, where he grew up. Upon getting his PA certification, he served at a community clinic in Chinook, Montana, where he worked for just over three years before accepting a job at Clark Fork Valley Hospital. In Plains, he worked in a variety of positions, including family medicine, urgent care, the emergency room, and long-term care.
"I originally went into medicine since I wanted to be in the mainstream of healthcare and be able to administer care across the spectrum of all ages and health care concerns," said Mack, who was a certified athletic trainer for seven years. However, he said he wanted to work in the area of primary care to help care for people with all their needs rather than merely those in athletic programs.
"Over the years, I realize that I highly value relationships with the people that I care for. I suppose that is part of the reason that I felt the need to be back in primary care after working more in urgent care these last few years," he said.
In 2015, Mack left the Plains hospital and served at a clinic in Wenatchee, Washington, and then a family medicine practice in Kona, Hawaii. But he periodically returned to Plains to fill in and to help with patient care, including working in the newly created Respiratory Illness Clinic at the hospital's main campus and at Thompson Falls Family Medicine.
"I thoroughly enjoy working at the clinic in Hot Springs as I feel most at home in the most rural environment," said Mack, one of three PAs at Clark Fork Valley Hospital. "I suppose that is due to being raised on a ranch and also working in a rural clinic in eastern Montana right out of PA school. Mack said he likes working in primary care because of the relationships he has with his patients.
"As I get to know people over time, realize that I care more deeply for them and their needs - physical, spiritual, and emotional. I believe that we are created to be relational beings and consequently I thrive best when engaging with other both within and without healthcare," added Mack, although he also realizes that relationships can be challenging. "But I also realize that others and God have been patient with me during trying times in my life. I am still in process and have to remind myself that those that I treat are also in process on multiple levels."