Amy Klingler, PA-C
Amy Klingler, PA-C, is the sole provider at the Salmon River Clinic in Stanley, a rural town located within the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. With the nearest healthcare facility over an hour away, this clinic is the only accessible source for healthcare for residents and tourists in the area.
With no clinical assistance, she is responsible for everything during the patient’s visit, from taking vitals, conducting the exam, drawing blood, making the diagnosis, implementing treatment, and even cleaning all the instruments. Although this means each appointment lasts longer, Klingler makes it a priority to spend as much time as each patient needs going over their questions and concerns. From June to August, when the clinic sees more urgent care visits from tourists, Klingler receives assistance from two pre-med students from the College of Idaho as part of an internship program. She teaches them how to take vitals and perform other tasks to increase her efficiency while providing them with hands-on medical experience.
“Being the only provider in such a remote area is an enormous responsibility,” says Klingler. When she started working at the clinic in 2006, she had to get comfortable with her own abilities and limitations recognizing when she can handle patient cases herself and when she needs to consult with her supervising physician or transfer them to the hospital for further examination and treatment.
“A good history and physical exam are critical for me. We can perform basic in-office labs, but we can’t run every diagnostic test and we don’t have any medical imaging onsite,” says Klingler. “We are equipped to handle primary care and urgent care visits, but because of our limited resources, true medical emergencies and trauma can be very challenging. Local volunteer EMTs provide support and transfer patients either by ground or air ambulance to the nearest hospital.”
With the constraints of the winter months when travel can become impossible and the demand during summer months when tourism spikes, having Klingler available to provide care is a blessing to this remote area. “People with acute illnesses or emergencies would not be able to obtain care if Amy wasn’t there,” says Dave Martin, PA-C, an instructor at the University of Idaho PA program and fellow PA who fills in for Klingler at the clinic one week every summer. For her work, Klingler was recognized as the Idaho Academy of Physician Assistants Outstanding PA in 2012.
Dave Kimpton, the president of the clinic’s board of directors, also recognizes the invaluable service Klingler provides. "Medically, she treats the whole person, including mental, physical and emotional aspects - not just the individual symptoms. She is appreciated and an asset in this remote central Idaho area, which receives over 1.5 million visitors a year. Amy is also a mother and is involved in many different organizations in the community and the surrounding valley.”
Being a part of a small, close-knit community and being able to contribute and make a difference is something Klingler always wanted. In fact, she visited this very clinic in 1999 while on vacation, before she decided to become a PA. She met the PA on staff, and after talking with him, she decided that’s what she wanted to do. So, she enrolled in PA school with every intent of working at the same clinic. “Stanley is a place where people wave at you driving down the street,” says Klingler. “I love being a part of this community. I know my patients well, and I try to provide them with the best care I can. I’m honored to get to be a part of their lives in that way.”