Jade Bartoletti, DNP, FNP-C Joins the Healthcare Team at the Twin Bridges Clinic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Sheridan, Montana, August 4, 2023)
Jade Bartoletti always knew she wanted her life's work to be based around helping people. Medicine was not her first choice for achieving this goal but, after a transformative experience in Ireland, she was firmly convinced that it would be the best path for fulfilling her aspirations. Through her early experiences in the healthcare profession, Bartoletti learned that serving rural communities was not only an integral part of her medical vocation but also a lifestyle preference. "When you go rural, of course the towns get smaller, the people get friendlier and the places are more beautiful," said Bartoletti.
Bartoletti was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana. After high school, she enrolled in the Criminal Justice program at the University of Great Falls. The legal system appealed to Bartoletti and, with a knowledge of that system, she felt she could support people who were in challenging circumstances.
On a trip to Ireland between her freshman and sophomore years, Bartoletti and her mother encountered a little lady who had been badly hurt falling off a curb. “We sat and took care of her until the ambulance came,” described Bartoletti. “It was an overwhelming epiphany for me. This was what I wanted to do for therest of my life - to take care of people in their most vulnerable and difficult situations.” Upon her return to Montana, Bartoletti transferred from the Criminal Justice program at University of Great Falls to the Nursing program at Carroll College in Helena.
At Carroll College, Bartoletti embarked on her ongoing endeavor to help vulnerable people when she co-founded the Carroll Outreach Team (COT) with her future husband, Louis Bartoletti. COT’s mission is to bring together students, faculty, alumni, and other friends of Carroll College to provide direct service and aid to people in need. “Creating COT was Louis’ dream. I said we can make this happen. Together, we did!” said Bartoletti. Through COT, Bartoletti volunteered for fundraising, organizing and traveling on international aid trips to Haiti and Colombia for the Montana Dental Outreach Team and biweekly work projects in Helena for God’s Love homeless shelter. Since 2004, the Montana Dental Outreach Team, founded by Louis Bartoletti's father, Dr. Tom Bartoletti, DMD, has been sending dentists, dental assistants, and students to Eastern Europe, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa. “Going to Jeremie, Haiti with Dr. Tom Bartoletti and his team had the most monumental impact on my global perspective as a healthcare provider and as a human being,” said Bartoletti. But she feels that the consistent work she did for God’s Love was as important as the eye-opening experiences she had overseas. “You can’t forget about those in need right where you are.”
When Bartoletti graduated from Carroll in 2011, she was awarded the Michael Murphy Award which is “presented to the graduating senior who, through personal achievement, generosity, and leadership, has excelled in promoting the true spirit and ideals of Carroll College,” for her work co-founding the Carroll Outreach Team. Spring 2011, was very busy for Jade as she studied for and passed her nursing board exams, graduated from Carroll, and married Louis.
After passing her nursing board exams, Jade joined Louis in Alaska where he was working in a cannery in Naknek. Jade started her first nursing job at the local Camai clinic. The permanent population of Naknek is about 500 people but it jumps to several thousand people in the summer for the salmon fishing season. “We were taking care of our usual primary care patients in addition to machinery and fishing accidents, falls, stabbings, you name it. Plus, we often had to overcome language barriers as the temporary residents included folks from all over the world, including remote areas of Alaska, parts of Asia, South and Central America, and the Eastern Bloc.” Jade reveled in her time working in Naknek and she realized that she had found her niche. “I decided that rural healthcare is where I belong because I can take care of people in beautiful places while practicing at the top of my scope.” But first, she wanted to broaden her experience and expand her scope to its fullest extent.
Louis and Jade spent the next year in Bozeman. Louis had been accepted to the University of Washington’s School of Medicine WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) TRUST (Targeted Rural and Underserved) program which allows students to complete a portion of their studies at a university in their home state. Louis took classes for his first year of medical school at Montana State and Jade worked as a Labor and Delivery and Postpartum nurse at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.
While at Bozeman Deaconess, Jade engaged in the transitional research initiative of “Couplet Care” practice which promotes care for newborns and their mothers as a unit in the same hospital room as much as possible, rather than bringing the newborns to and from the nursery. “We were trying to create a holistic bonding experience in the hospital for families, particularly mom and baby,” Jade said. Scientific research has shown that early bonding and attachment has measurable benefits for newborns.
Following her training to be a registered nurse at Carroll, Jade decided to attend nurse practitioner school at the University of Washington, the top-rated nurse practitioner school in the United States. Jade’s mentor, Dayna Thergesen, a pediatric nurse practitioner with Southwest Montana Community Health Center and healthcare provider at Ruby Valley Medical Center, encouraged her to work at Harborview Medical Center during the first two years of her nurse practitioner doctoral program. Jade’s preference for working for the vulnerable and underserved drew her to the Ground West Women’s and Pediatric Clinics at Harborview. During her time at Harborview, she also worked in the Adult and Pediatric Trauma and Burn Acute Care Unit, as well as in the Emergency Room as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. “Harborview offered an opportunity to work with exemplary medical professionals on the cutting edge of medicine and science. As a Level 1 Regional Trauma and Burn Center we were treating life threatening injuries, severe burns, large wounds, frostbite, bear attacks victims, and many more complex medical conditions such as Steven Johnson Syndrome. There were cases that you won’t get to see in a Montana hospital because they must take the patients to places like Harborview.” Although the combination of working as a registered nurse and training in the nurse practitioner doctoral program was grueling, Jade enjoyed being able to integrate the coursework with her nursing. “There is nothing like the real-life application of what you are learning,” Jade explained. “When you’re reading about medications and then actually administering them, you can see how they work, as well as the sideeffects. It was a paramount component to my medical training and critical thinking process.”
After graduation, the Bartolettis pursued their residencies in Boise, Idaho. Louis worked at the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho. Jade joined the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center Internal Medicine Team, where she helped develop the first Advanced Practice Provider Hospitalist Team in Boise, Idaho, working with the best surgeons and medical specialists in the state on complex healthcare cases. She was responsible for diagnostic problem solving, helping patients to make difficult medical decisions during hospitalization, and management of acute and chronic illness across the hospital spectrum. During their residencies, Louis and Jade decided it was time to start their family and their two children were born in Boise.
Following residency, the Bartolettis signed contracts to work in Alaska. “We always knew we wanted to get back to Alaska. I had a very thrilling experience working in healthcare there,” Jade said. However, Jade hadn’t expected to find herself on the front lines of the pandemic when they returned to Alaska, where she worked in the emergency room in Soldotna. Jade is grateful for the proactive leadership at Central Peninsula General Hospital and their understanding and application of the pandemic protocols. “We became the first line of defense in a time where we didn’t know if it was going to be like Ebola or the common flu. We were charged with isolating, diagnosing, and treating patients with a highly infectious disease while continuing to manage our other emergent cases. We were working overtime to provide the best care we knew how for our patients during a very uncertain and troubling time.” Fortunately, Jade’s mother had also moved to Alaska and helped the Bartoletti family through a critical time in caring for their children while Jade and Louis navigated the uncertainties of pandemic healthcare. “She helped raise our family, for which we are eternally thankful,” Jade said.
Through the early years of the pandemic, the Bartolettis still had time to enjoy Alaska’s beauty. However, at the end of two years, the couple decided it might be time to return to Montana. “As beautiful as it is (Alaska), you can’t replace your family and friends,” Jade said. They contacted the CEO at Ruby Valley Medical Center and made arrangements to start work in August, 2023. But first, they wanted to experience working in New Zealand. “It was hard to imagine settling into Sheridan and then going to New Zealand,” Jade explained.
In New Zealand, Jade returned to working as a registered nurse because New Zealand is only beginning to recognize nurse practitioners as part of their professional nursing ladder. The process of transferring a nurse practitioner’s license can take over a year. “It made more sense for me to work as an RN.” Fortunately, registered nurses work at a different scope in rural New Zealand compared to the United States. At the Whangamata Medical Center, located on the Coromandel Peninsula, Jade found that RNs did casting and splinting, cervical screening, incisions and drainage, laceration repairs and a variety of other medical procedures that nurses don’t usually do in the U.S. Jade also enjoyed the challenge of doing as much as possible with limited medical resources. “Whangamata was really a small rural clinic that also had to operate as an Emergency Room. It was inspiring to learn how to optimize limited resources to meet the patients’ healthcare needs when we didn’t have a CT scanner, an MRI machine and there were limited medications,” Jade said. Her training in the Harborview Trauma and Burn Acute Care Unit allowed her to also provide care at the wound care clinic in Whangamata.
Vision for Healthcare in the Ruby Valley
Jade is reluctant to develop a detailed vision for healthcare in the Ruby Valley until she has first-hand familiarity with the community’s needs. “There’s a culture and groundwork that’s been laid there,” Jade said. Her hope is that the skills and expertise that she and Louis have developed will help fulfill medical needs in the community. Jade would like to provide evidence-based holistic and integrative health care. “Primary care is centered around prevention and wellness while also managing acute and chronic illness across the lifespan. In order to do so, I would like to be able to provide up-to-date point-of-care testing locally. These tests are quick and accurate. They can save patients time and money by helping diagnose and treat patients effectively,” Jade said. Such testing includes influenza, COVID, and strep testing, blood glucose monitoring, pregnancy testing and urinalysis, basic PT/INR (for the diagnosis of bleeding or clotting disorders), and a troponin machine (tests specific troponin proteins which can indicate heart damage), to name a few. She feels that access to an x-ray machine in Twin Bridges might also be helpful so that patients don’t need to go to Sheridan to identify pneumonia or a broken bone. “However, I want to see how the current system works for our patients first,” Jade said. Jade would like patients to feel that they are heard and connected to their healthcare team here in the Ruby Valley. “I hope to offer a great service that allows patients to stay in the Valley as much as possible to have their healthcare needs fulfilled.”