By Mike Weland
After four years working with Bonners Ferry Family Medicine, a year with Kaniksu Health and personal disruptions of which COVID-19 was not the least, certified nurse practitioner Chris Kolobow, with nursing assistant Marcella Hilliard at his right side, opened the only private NP-C practice in Bonners Ferry this summer, offering residents a new option in their health care choices.
An NP-C is board certified the same as a physician’s assistant, or PA, but they can practice on their own and offer and everything a primary care physician can. The nurse practitioner most often has years more patient care experience than a PA, being required to certify and practice as a registered nurse before pursuing the extra training to acquire NP credentials.
For Chris, the majority of that nursing experience came working as a surgical nurse for 10 years in Maryland after becoming a registered nurse in 2005. Looking for a more quiet and safe place for their children, the family moved to Boise in 2012, but pined for trees, water and mountains, and found Bonners Ferry five years ago.
But while the pace of living was just what they expected, the long hours Chris spent working, not being home enough, put a strain on his homelife and his marriage ended. While adjusting to that, COVID-19 reared it’s ugly head, impacting all in the medical professions.
For Chris, the upheaval in both his personal and professional lives provided the impetus to take on the challenge of putting all his education, training and experience into establishing his own private practice, and in June he moved into office space he shares with chiropractor Dr. Ralf Schurmann at 6737 Cody Street, beneath Shelman Realty and with a big wooden Sasquatch keeping an eye on everything.
He accepts many types of health insurance, including Blue Cross, Regent, Medicare and more, and he’s still work to be able to accept more, a process, he said, that’s been the most difficult aspect of founding his own practice. He is accepting new patients, and he serves people from North Idaho and western Montana, offering both in-office visits and telehealth calls for those in more remote areas from where trips to town are rare, and his prices makes it possible even for those without health insurance to be seen with a typical visit costing $45.
Coming from a nursing background instead of the medical backgrounds of physicians and PAs, nurse practitioners, Chris said, tend to be more patient-oriented and holistic in their approach to treatment.
In person, by phone or via his website, https://www.ckolobownp.com, which offers each patient a portal for telehealth services, Chris Kolobow, NP-C is ready to help.
“When a patient comes in or seeks help, I want to learn, and I will spend time to listen,” he said. “I find that few physicians actually listen, and I buck that trend. I listen to your concerns and considerations and needs and offer you my best advice. But it’s your life and your choices, and if my advice doesn’t fit your needs or your lifestyle, we can work together to find a solution that fits better.”
New patients are welcome and walk-ins aren’t turned away, but it’s always best to call ahead, (208) 267-2225, to make sure your wait won’t be too long.
His office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and he plans to expand hours as his practice grows.
“If you want to be heard by someone who’s interested in you, this might be your right place,” Chris said.