New People’s Health Clinic chief says she’s ready to fill big shoes
Rachelle Flinn stepped up in a big way when she became the clinical director for the People’s Health Clinic in March, but she doesn’t think the past three months have been all that rough.
“The transition to a new responsibility was a learning opportunity, but not a daunting task,” said Flinn, a seven-year veteran at the Park City clinic that serves uninsured patients.
The 31-year-old has big shoes to fill — she’s taking over for one of the clinic’s founders, John Hanrahan. She hopes to make a sizable impression on the nonprofit over her tenure.
“I hope that I can continue to support the staff and the volunteers, so that we can continue to be a successful clinic for years to come,” Flinn said. “I will never be able to replace Dr. Hanrahan … but my rules are different than his, so I will certainly be able to fill the needs of the clinical director.”
As the PHC’s clinical director, Flinn oversees day-to-day operations including the implementation of new medical protocols and keeping up standards in patient care.
“I enjoy it, I think it was a great transition in a time of my career where I was ready to focus more on medicine and more on medical policy,” she said.
She also interacts with patients personally on a regular basis, as a physician assistant. It’s where her knowledge of Spanish, which she picked up during a period of study in Costa Rica, comes in handy. It’s the first language of many of the patients the PHC sees.
“I try to understand culturally where my patients are emotionally and mentally coming from, and treat the whole person rather than treating the disease,” she said. “I think that speaking Spanish is an integral part of being able to treat someone holistically if they’re Spanish-speaking.”
Flinn has been affiliated with the PHC since she moved to Park City with her then-boyfriend, now-husband Graham Flinn in 2012. The Mainer and enthusiastic skier considers Park City to be her home.
After a hiatus to enroll in the physician assistant school of the private University of New England in Maine, she returned to Park City and the People’s Health Clinic in 2017, rising to the position of clinic coordinator.
“I had the intention to come back the whole time … I have found a wonderful life in Park City,” she said, declining to comment on whether she preferred Eastern or Western powder. (“The question is where are you going to publish this article,” she joked. “Are my Maine friends and family going to see this?”)
She hopes to steer the clinic for uninsured patients toward expanding and augmenting the range of services it offers in specialty care, like optometry, family planning and women’s health services.
When Heber City’s Planned Parenthood clinic closed in 2017, Wasatch Back residents found themselves having to travel to Salt Lake County to receive family planning care like STI screenings and contraceptive counseling, Flinn said. She hopes the PHC, along with the Summit County Health Department and University of Utah health system, can step in to fill that gap.
“It continues to be an important goal for our clinics,” she said.
As for the challenges of running the organization, she says it all comes down to volunteers — the more, the healthier.
“It’s in the winter when we see an increase in communicable upper respiratory diseases,” she said, “and there’s a higher need for urgent care, and that can be difficult to meet if we’re dependent on volunteer provider availability.”
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Thanks to COVID-19 cutting into visitation numbers, Park City’s seasonal workforce is sufficient. In any other winter, “the hiring situation would be dire.”