Taking Time to Listen
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Shines Bright with Palmetto Gold
By Jennifer Wilson
Beverly Summer, BSN, WHNP-BC, recalls the day when a woman with a broken arm in a cast walked into her exam room for an annual visit.
Beverly, a women’s health nurse practitioner, asked the normal check-up questions and completed the routine exam.
But Beverly wanted to know more about this patient, notably what happened to her arm. With a comforting bedside manner and compassionate dedication to her job, Beverly was able to persuade the woman to reveal life-changing information.
The patient told Beverly she was in an abusive marriage – that her husband hit her – and that’s how she broke her arm. The patient was depressed, scared and needed a way out. Sadly, she also told Beverly it was the first time anyone asked how she broke her arm. Beverly was able to refer the woman for counseling and get her the help she desperately needed.
“To be a good provider, you need to be able to empathize and understand where people are in life,” Beverly said.
With a breadth of knowledge about general medical and gynecologic issues, coupled with the deep personal connections she strives for with patients, the 53 year old is an exemplary nurse practitioner at Vista Women’s Healthcare, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice that’s conveniently located off Gervais Street in downtown Columbia. The practice offers comprehensive women’s care with an emphasis on comfort and convenience.
This year, Beverly earned the Palmetto Gold Award for nursing, a prestigious honor given each year to 100 nurses in South Carolina who exemplify excellence in nursing. They represent the top of the nursing field.
As a women’s health nurse practitioner, Beverly performs many of the same functions as a doctor in the office, including writing prescriptions. A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has advanced education and clinical training in a health care area. Beverly’s career in women’s health spans 34 years, including stints as a labor and delivery nurse, prenatal nurse in public health, OB/GYN nurse practitioner in private practice, and clinical nursing instructor.
She’s always had a passion for helping women in need. A few years back, she began gynecology services at a clinic in Newberry County that offers free care to underserved and uninsured patients. She volunteers there weekly.
“Many women will not get their mammogram or pap smear if they don’t have insurance,” she said. “There’s a great need for better access to women’s health care.”
While the women Beverly has treated come from a wide variety of backgrounds, she sees common problems among them.
According to Beverly, many women today suffer with depression and anxiety.
“Everyone is overwhelmed. We have job stress, we’re taking care of aging parents, we text instead of talk, no one says anything nice anymore, and we may be having marriage trouble. Sometimes, I’m the only one who knows all of that about someone.”
In Beverly’s nomination form for the Palmetto Gold Award, her colleague, Dr. Kathryn Moore, a gynecologist at Vista Women’s Healthcare, wrote about a patient who had been contemplating suicide. “Beverly took time to listen, hear and understand her concerns, resolving her feelings after a few words.”
Beverly notes that she also sees many women struggling with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. She’s had tremendous success in helping her patients lose weight.
According to Dr. Moore, Beverly had a patient who struggled with her weight since her teenage years, ultimately weighing more than 300 pounds. “This patient broke down during her annual exam. Beverly gave her exercise and dietary recommendations, but more importantly, she gave her unwavering support and words of encouragement. This patient has now lost 100 pounds.”
And like a wise mom or friend, Beverly also advises her patients on making smart decisions.
“There is a tremendous problem with unprotected sex and promiscuity among all ages of women,” she said. “I try to encourage my patients to find that one special person instead of engaging in high risk behavior.”
Beverly has a reputation for spending a lot of time with each of her patients, and sometimes, she says, she walks into the exam room and they just start to cry – because they know she can help them.
Her colleagues call the thoroughness of Beverly’s work, compassion and ability to understand her patients on many levels increasingly rare in today’s world. A Newberry native, Beverly lives in Prosperity with her husband. They have three children and two grandchildren.
“I want my patients to know that I genuinely care for them,” Beverly said. “You’re a woman, and you deserve respect and dignity.”
For more information about Beverly Summer and Vista Women’s Healthcare, visit VistaWomens.com or LexMed.com