Nurse practitioners call this new law better for healthcare in rural SC

Updated: Aug. 15, 2018 at 8:52 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - New laws on nurse practitioners are meant to make South Carolinians healthier, especially those that live in rural areas. Governor Henry McMaster signed the piece of paper in a ceremony on Wednesday, but the law went into effect on July 1.

Nurse practitioners will be able to prescribe more things to patients without traveling to collaborate with a physician and get that doctor to sign-off on those prescriptions. The way one lawmaker put it, this new law 'opens doors in healthcare' that were closed before.

In the small town of Summerton, the rural South Carolina area has one nurse practitioner in town, Dr. Dale Barwick. Before then, some went years without a healthcare provider.

"Most [patients] seem very appreciative of me being here...some of them walk to my office or some of them ride their motorized wheelchairs or their bikes to my office. But before I was here, those patients would call 911 just so they could get into town to get their blood pressure medicine they need filled," Barwick, ANP-C, said.

Barwick likes the law recently signed, that allows her more freedoms to work here. She can prescribe more medications, and basic things like handicap placards, hospice care and physical therapy.

"Well they won't have to wait so long on their medications, and I can now prescribe Schedule II for Attention Deficit Disorder, so that is helpful," added Barwick.

In a ceremony inside his State House office on Wednesday, Governor Henry McMaster said, "the health of our people has become more and more of an issue, and we realize how important it is and we realize just how important it is to stay healthy if you just know what to do and you have access to someone that can help you."

The law also removes a limit on nurse practitioners that kept them from practicing more than 45 miles from a collaborating physician. This can allow better healthcare to more rural areas, nurse practitioners believe.

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