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Sisters open one-stop shop for mental and physical health

BY SYDNEY MCCOY WINSTON-SALEM

PUBLISHED 6:00 PM ET MAR. 29, 2024

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. —  A pair of sisters in our state is working toward a better system to help their patients regardless of their insurance status. 

 

What You Need To Know

  • Stephanie Miles and Cherese Blue are making Smith's Primary Care and Wellness, PLLC, a one-stop shop for all health needs

  • The sisters are working with a direct primary care model, making it easier for patients to see and pay their doctor 

  • They are recipients of the Minority Business Enterprise Grant Program for the 2023 year from Winston-SalemThe grant is allowing them to expand to a new space to add a mental health component

 

Stephanie Miles, a certified nurse practitioner, has been working in health care for over a decade. After seeing patients briefly and sending them on their way, she opened up her own practice, Smith’s Primary Care and Wellness, PLLC.


“You treat people, you treat the emergency and you ship them away. So you never get to see your interventions. You never get to see the outcomes,” Miles said. 

The practice explores a mix of alternative and natural treatments, along with traditional medicine, to find the best outcome for her patients. 

“Being able to adapt and actually listen. That's why the majority of my patients love coming here, because it's like coming to see your family. You're not shamed or shunned for anything,” Miles said. 


According to a 2021 survey by the Commonwealth Fund, 22% of adults 65 or older waited six or more days for a doctor appointment when they were sick. 


The amount of time it takes to get an appointment, as well as insurance status, can be a deal breaker for many patients when looking for a primary care facility. 


To help change that, Miles is using a model called direct primary care. This model allows her to see patients more, regardless of their insurance status. It functions similar to a membership fee, allowing lower costs and enhanced patient experience. 


“My patients pay $65, $75 or $85 a month based on age, and that gives them unlimited access. So unlimited visits, no co-pays, very discounted labs,” Miles said. 


Miles said the model has been seen in larger cities but is beginning to spread across North Carolina. The primary nurse practitioner said the model highlights the accessibility for those with a high deductible insurance plan, where the patient can then tap on insurance for prescriptions or other labs as needed or a patient who works at or owns a small business. 


“I definitely think lower income people could benefit from this model, especially by the time you try to go to some other places and pay cash … it costs a lot,” Miles said. 


It's not just about the model of pay or being able to get an appointment. For Miles it's making sure all of her patients are fully treated. 


After being named a recipient for the Minority Business Enterprise Grant Program for Latinx and Black small business owners from Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, Miles was able to add another benefit to her clients — her sister. 


Cherese Blue, Miles' sister, is a licensed clinical mental health counselor associate. Through the grant, Miles was able to bring on Blue, who focuses on a mental health view that is holistic, physical, emotional, spiritual and emotional well-being. 


“The beautiful thing is that the stigma is starting to go away somewhat and so people are more open-minded to receiving therapy, to saying 'I need help' into looking for ways to get to a better place,” Blue said. 


More than $200,000 was given to 20 businesses for the 2023 winners of the grant with each company awarded up to a $25,000 grant and financial oversight and organization. 


“I really wanted to assist my clients with more than just education and employment. And so that pushed me and led me to go back to school to get my license and to become a therapist so that I can help with emotional and physical and spiritual well-being," Blue said. 


Smith’s Primary Care and Wellness, PLLC will use the money from the grant for marketing as well as a new space that will include Blue’s mental health areas, set to include a yoga studio. 


Miles said the sisters do everything to the fullest to make their father and brother, who they lost, proud. 


“We go about our lives now and our plans, like we got this go big or go home attitude. We got this, you only live once attitude. So when we come up with an idea, we are going to go out there and do it,” Miles said. 


Miles says she hopes that patients see themselves represented when they walk into their office. 


“I think that the community are going to feel really good about being able to come in and see two sisters come together to help the community with their needs,” Blue said. 

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