Disability Resources Skip to main content

YC Alumna, Stephanie Purinton

YC Alumna, Stephanie Purinton - first Certified Nurse Midwife in the Verde Valley, Board Certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Founder of Bella Vita Healthcare shares her story with YC

alumni-stephanie.jpgStephanie Purinton: When I graduated from high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. So I ended up volunteering at the fire department and ended up at my college doing an EMT class. And when I started that, I was like, oh, I kind of like the medical field. This is fun. At that point, I decided to go to nursing school. And so that's how I ended up taking my getting my nursing degree at Yavapai College.

YC Alumni Office: What year was that?

SP: A long time ago. I actually started at Yavapai College in ‘92. And then by the time I decided to go to nursing school and graduated, it was 95.

YCAO: Where did you go after YC?

SP: I ended up getting my master's degree through Frontier Nursing University out of Kentucky. But that wasn't until 2007 that I did that. I worked here (Verde Valley) at our hospital in a lot of different capacities and ended up in OB for the last 10 years.

YCAO: Is that what made you decide to go back and do midwifery school?

SP: And how has that journey been? I love it, it was definitely something completely different. I was the first midwife here in the Verde Valley. First one, you know, getting privileges at the hospital. And so it was a long journey, getting privileges.

YCAO: When you say getting privileges, what does that mean?

SP: That means that you're able to do this work at the hospital, yeah, you're able to work at the hospital and do deliveries. Because I was new, it's something different. The doctors were a little bit hesitant, I had some great support from some of the doctors and others didn't really want midwives in the hospital. But then finally, we got that through. And since then, I have wonderful support from everybody at the hospital. And the doctors I work really closely with.

YCAO: So do clients find you separately? Or do they find you through the hospital?

SP: The hospital or they find me mostly through word of mouth. That's how most people find us. I worked in a physician office for my first six years. And then, seven years ago, I opened my own office. And so I have a doctor I work very closely with for anything that's high risk, anything that you know, is not appropriate for midwifery care.

YCAO: What drew you into midwifery?

SP: Because I worked in labor and delivery for so many years, and I just saw, you know, things could be different. For a lot of places, it becomes very routine of how we do things. And women were asking for different things. And, you know, the nurses, we do our best to accommodate it. But in the end, there's only so much we can do. So that's where I really wanted to make a difference. I have in my scope of practice to do home births. And I have chosen not to because the hospitals were where I really wanted to make a difference for women so that they could have options. So that's what made me choose to do that, just so I could give women more options.

I'm with the mother’s the whole pregnancy and with them during their labor. We are all on the same page of what they're wanting, and we're going to do everything we can to let that happen. They still aren't able to be in the hospital and have all of the things you know, they want an epidural if they want pain medication. But if they want to do a completely natural birth and don't want to be hooked up to monitors, you know, different things like that just gives them a lot more freedom. A lot can make them feel more in control of their experience.

YCAO: Tell us a little bit about starting your business and what drew you to want to jump into entrepreneurship?

SP: It was never anything I wanted to do. Just circumstances kind of made it happen. And, and it's done, you know really well because I run things a little differently. We really tried to make it more of a personal experience. We don't like it to look like a physician's office. We like it to be very calming and welcoming. Even in our exam rooms, it doesn't look like you're in a doctor's office, we don't have a bunch of medical equipment and stuff. Everybody feels very comfortable here. And so we work hard to make sure people aren't waiting, you know, our wait times are very short for them to be seen. And you know that so that we respect their time, just like they respect

YCAO: How many staff do you have?

SP: I have six. I have a nurse practitioner, and then two medical assistants and a phlebotomist. And then two front office, people of ultrasound technician, and then a billing person. So technically, I have seven.

YCAO: So in the beginning who did your marketing? I'm assuming the answer is going to be you. But all the marketing, and getting your website up and getting the word out that you were here to provide this service?

SP: Yes, it was me. You know, we, we tried all the different avenues. And a lot of it still was really word of mouth just because I, I was born and raised here. So I knew a lot of people, and just slowly starting to build up. And then once I started taking care of people, that word of mouth, you know, we did radio, we did newspaper, we did all that stuff.

YCAO: And was the community supportive?

SP: The community was/is very supportive, it took a little bit for people to understand what I did, because the only thing that they'd heard of with midwives is you have to have a home birth and you can't have any medicine and you can't have any prescriptions if you're sick or anything like that. Right. So, it's really educating the community of what a certified nurse midwife is versus what they call them certified professional midwife. Who's, you know, a home birth, but they aren't nurses, they can't write prescriptions, and all of that stuff.

YCAO: What is the difference between? So what role does a doula play?

SP: Let is they don't have a degree. And I think they've probably taken classes on things, and they're more of a support person during labor, so they're not doing any medical care.

YCAO: Got it. So what, has shifted or changed because of pandemic?

SP: Of course, the number of people that they can have with them when they're in labor, that's kind of been the biggest shift in changing how things are. But other than that, in the beginning, even when everything was shut down, we couldn't shut down, we had to keep seeing all of our moms because they can't go a month or three months without, you know, having their baby checked on.

YCAO: Are all of your clients from the Verde Valley?

SP: I have a huge number of people who come from Prescott. The Prescott hospital doesn't have any midwives in the hospital. I have a lot of women who come over from Prescott to have their babies here.

YCAO: What’s happening with your family?

SP: My youngest is in the National Guard. And he is a certified nursing assistant and works in the emergency room at Mayo Clinic. He is going to be going back to school for his art and he wants to be a nurse also. His name is Alec. And then Austin is my older and he is living down in Phoenix and he works for wired up security systems, which is a security system company here in town, but he's helping start a branch in Phoenix and then working up here sometimes too. Alec went straight into the army. He actually started before even finished high school. He had a bunch of dual enrollment classes.

I think he had almost like 18 credits. And he took a couple of extra classes, he took the EMT class his senior year. I think he already had 18 to 20 credits through you at YC, that will transfer straight into his nursing.

YCAO: Do you have one piece of advice for young men and women who are considering this as a path?

SP: Be ready to work hard! It's, the greatest job ever. The way I work is completely different than probably 98% of midwives out there, because most of them are in groups of three or four. Most practices who do 30 deliveries a month have at least three midwives. So that's my next goal, is getting another midwife. It's hard work it's, very taxing on family and everything else because it really is any minute any day that you might have to leave. But it's very rewarding also.

YCAO: Thank you for sharing your story with me Stephanie.

You can find Stephanie at Bella Vita Health Care: Bella Vita Health Care