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Heather Forys, APRN, stresses importance of annual wellness exams

Advanced Practice Provider Heather Forys, APRN, stresses that having a primary care provider creates a “home base” – someone that really cares about your wellbeing. Having that context and strong relationship leads to better long-term health.

“It’s nice to have someone that knows you, especially when you aren’t sure what’s wrong. No matter what life throws at you, you have someone on your side. That’s a comfort,” Forys explained.

The St. Elmo native fell in love with medicine during nursing school, where she quickly learned that quality healthcare means treating the whole person, instead of isolated issues. Forys graduated in 2006 and then worked as a labor and delivery nurse at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis for seven years before expanding her career to being an Advanced Practice Provider. She initially planned to specialize in Women’s health, but instead, her family practice rotation grabbed her attention.

“I realized I want to treat patients of any age – infants to older adults. I find watching a person grow under my care very rewarding,” Forys stated.

Forys treats a wide range of illnesses including diabetes, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, depression, and anxiety. She emphasizes open communication with her patients so she can gain a better understanding of who they are and treat the full person.

“I encourage a very open and honest relationship with my patients. I want them to feel extremely comfortable with me. If patients are on board with their care, then we are going to be much more successful,” Forys insisted.

She emphasized the need for wellness visits to make sure people are up to date on their vaccines and screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Females should also have Women’s health visits annually to assess their current health and have a breast and pelvic exam. Forys conducts all care outside of things that require a specialist. She and the rest of the SBL Altamont Medical Center staff are happy to make those referrals as well. 

Outside of annual wellness exams, Forys asserts that mental health is one of the most important aspects of healthcare, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental health screenings have been integral in helping people address their issues and get their lives back on track.

“People should enjoy their lives. Poor mental health can get in the way of that sometimes, so it’s very rewarding to help people find answers that will make them feel better,” Forys explained.

The SBL Altamont Clinic cares for people from Altamont and surrounding areas. She finds caring for the people she grew up with to be a huge blessing, especially with a strong collaborating team.

“Sometimes patients drive an hour to come see us. It’s a testimony to the care we are providing when people are willing to drive a little further to continue seeing us as their primary care provider since they feel safe and cared for in our office,” Forys declared. 

In her free time, Forys plays outside with her daughter by taking her to parks and other natural resources. She and her husband are expecting a baby boy in December.

“Family time is very important. I like to work hard, but making memories with my family is my greatest joy,” Forys said.

To schedule an appointment with Forys, call the SBL Altamont Medical Center at 618 483-6151. It is located at 8 North Third Street in Altamont. She practices with Family Physician John Opilka, DO, and Advanced Practice Providers Kim Burgess, Katie Koester, and Randi Berg.

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