Better Care for Patients: An Interview with Christalyn Musselman

This year, BetterMed celebrates its sixth year in business—a journey that has been marked by tremendous growth. Instrumental to its success are employees like Christalyn Musselman, RN, who has been with the company since nearly the beginning. In this interview, Musselman—who is now the Site Manager of the practice’s two original locations—reflects upon what makes BetterMed stand out from other healthcare facilities and what patients can expect in the coming back to school season. 

Christalyn Musselman, RN, left a full-time position as an emergency room nurse to join BetterMed Urgent Care in March 2013. At the time, the practice had only one location; today it operates six facilities in Central Virginia.

“Word is getting out about the superior level of care we provide and that shows in the growth of the company,” she said. “We are getting a lot of patient referrals.”

Musselman is the Site Manager for the two original sites—Hull Street and Colonial Heights—which opened in November 2012 and January 2014, respectively. She has enjoyed getting to know the patients at the two facilities over the past few years.

“We have a lot of repeat clients. Sometimes it starts with Mom coming in, and then we may see her children. Eventually, we may see the whole family,” she said.

Patients include many affiliated with the military, particularly at the Colonial Heights location, which is close to Fort Lee. “We see a lot of veterans and their families, a lot of TRICARE patients,” she said, referring to the health care program for uniformed service members. “We have a great relationship with Fort Lee.”

Patients are drawn to the prompt attention they receive at BetterMed. “When you walk through our doors, you sign in and get registered and then you get taken straight back. Rarely ever do we have wait times, even during the busier flu season. Usually you’re in and out in less than an hour.” Patients can also register for their appointments online.

“We like to see our patients and then get them home, get them back feeling better,” she said.

Extended hours are offered at the facilities, which are open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. BetterMed is also open during the holidays.

In addition to the convenient hours and fast service, she said, patients are drawn to the expert care offered by the providers, which include nurse practitioners, physician assistants and physicians. All have emergency room experience.

Musselman enjoys working in an urgent care setting. “When you’re in an ER, you sometimes can’t spend time with your patients. You’re in and out of rooms. At BetterMed, we have a more family-type approach.”

Because of their training, BetterMed’s providers are prepared to handle all types of situations. “You don’t know who’s going to come through those doors,” she said. “It could be a patient with a simple sinus infection or someone with chest pain who is having a heart attack.”

Currently, the providers are handling an increase of suspected strep cases—one of the harbingers of the back-to-school season, along with ear infections and pink eye. At the facilities, patients can be tested for strep, mono, RSV and the flu.

In the coming months, Musselman anticipates an increase of patients with sinus and upper respiratory infections–including the common cold, bronchitis and pneumonia—to which the elderly are especially vulnerable. Croup is a common ailment for infants and babies.

Patients with shortness of breath can receive breathing treatments at the facilities. All the locations are equipped with x-ray machines, which providers can use to diagnose pneumonia.

The flu season generally arrives in late fall to winter, said Musselman. The providers can provide IV fluids to patients who are dehydrated due to nausea and vomiting.

With fall sports beginning, she expects to see an increase in acute injuries. “Our specialty care can include x-rays and fittings of splints, crutches, or ankle braces along with orthopedic referrals, if needed,” she said. Lacerations can be treated in the office with stitches.

She is excited about a new handheld technology—BrainScope One—that helps BetterMed providers better diagnose concussions. The EEG-based device includes a disposable electrode headset for patients that is connected to a handheld device. Using advanced signal processing, sophisticated algorithms and machine learning, BrainScope One measures and interprets brain electrical activity and a patient’s neurocognitive function, creating a panel of objective data that can be used–along with other examinations by the provider–to determine if the patient will require further testing.

Regardless of the illness or injury, BetterMed’s staff members truly care about their patients, she said, noting that providers frequently make follow-up calls to patients to inquire about their health and see if they have any questions or concerns.

“Our providers are passionate and caring, and really enjoy being able to spend more time with the patients. They’re very knowledgeable and very competent, and they know when a patient can be handled here or needs to go to the ER,” she said. “They are going to do what’s best for the patient.”

If you haven’t had the chance to meet Christalyn before now, be sure to look for her at your next visit.