Amy Davisson, PA-C

When Certified PA Amy Davisson moved to Ferndale, Michigan, she saw a newspaper article inviting people to come to an organizational meeting of a free clinic. She began volunteering at the clinic’s inception in 2010, helping to design patient services and clinic operations.

FernCare Free Clinic, provides no-cost medical care to the medically uninsured and under-insured residents of Ferndale and surrounding communities. Davisson, who also works part-time in another primary care practice, became the clinic manager in 2013. She is paid 20 hours a week but is the person with total responsibility for following up with calls of test results, reviewing patient charts, often in consultation with the medical director, arranging for medication refills needed between visits and handing communication with referral partners. Additionally, Amy makes the decisions regarding allocation of limited funds for expensive labs, dental care or radiologic studies.

“This is medicine I enjoy because you have to work with patients who don’t understand the healthcare system or cannot afford insurance.” says Davisson. Some do not realize that in Michigan they must provide a letter every year to re-qualify for Medicaid. Many fall in the gap between being eligible for Medicaid and making enough money to purchase insurance.

She says: “Trust is an issue as some have had negative experiences in the past. There may be language barriers; they may have incorrect paperwork. My job is to be creative in figuring out strategies to get volunteers, referrals, screenings and care.”

The clinic offers a holistic model including on-site diagnostics, nutrition services, benefits information and mental health counseling and tries to find resources for everything from eyeglasses to mammograms and other preventive screenings.

Davisson sees her job as making patients feel comfortable, saying: “We try not to be intimidating. Our patients are motivated because they know they have a problem and want help. I tell them you are in the right spot; I am glad you here; and I am going to get you the help you need.”

Under Davisson’s direction, clinic patients can stay out of the ER and the hospital, which benefits the patients and the community.

According to Suzanne York, PA-C, “Amy sets the tone and is the model for patient respect, making no judgment about any patient's circumstances. Her leadership is part of the reason the overwhelming majority of patients return to the clinic and try so hard to follow their suggested course of treatment. Amy's diligent care ensures that patients get the education and support they need, and any medication changes indicated.”

Ann Heler, clinic board president, said "We consider ourselves fortunate that Amy has a passion for the work we do and that she makes time to do this work with us. It is absolutely true that FernCare would not be what it is without her and that great big compassionate heart of hers."

Davisson also feels fortunate to do the work she does, saying, “I am incredibly proud to be a Certified PA because it allows me to provide high quality care to people who desperately need it. My children see me treating and helping people, and my eight-year-old wants to grow up and be a PA.”