Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare and Carris Health care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to helps us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

Amy Buffington on the Nurse Practitioner’s Role in Cardiology Care

Published in Cardiology, Medical Professionals Tag: Amy Buffington, RN,CNP  

Author: Amy J. Buffington, RN, CNP

I started with the CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center, based in St. Cloud, in November 2019. I am located at Carris Health in Willmar where the Heart and Vascular Center’s intent is to be present five days per week. I will also provide Cardiology outreach to Litchfield, Paynesville, Benson, and Montevideo a few times a month. Prior to seeing patients in Cardiology, I worked at ACMC/Carris Health in the Internal Medicine department in a shared team model with Dr. Janae Bell and Dr. David Newcomer.

As a nurse practitioner in Cardiology, I work closely with the cardiologists to help care for their patients. I see patients in the clinic for routine follow-up or for follow-up after a heart attack or procedure, such as having coronary artery stents placed. I help to manage and adjust medications as needed, and I provide lifestyle intervention education. At times I also help to identify, diagnose, and treat new conditions in the patients I see if new problems arise.

A Typical Day in the Cardiology Clinic

I work in the outpatient Cardiology clinic daily as part of a collaborative team with the CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center cardiologist who is also in clinic. I see patients, review lab and imaging results and provide patients with results and recommendations. I also answer questions and concerns that come in from patients via phone or email.

The Willmar area has many patients that follow a cardiologist from the CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center. By practicing mainly at Carris Health in Willmar I’m able to help provide follow-up for these patients and provide continuity of care. Patients are able to call me with questions or concerns or get in for an appointment in a timely manner.

I enjoy being able to help people every single day I go to work. I’m able to help answer patients' questions and provide education. When something is not going well, or someone does not feel good, I get to problem solve by asking the right questions and ordering tests as needed to find an answer.

Helping others to live their best life and feel their best is my goal! I love when patients come in and share their success stories with me.

Providing Cardiology Care Close to Home

Amy Buffington, RN, CNP and Cardiologist, Dr. Jacob Dutcher

CentraCare and Carris Health partner together to provide the best possible care for their patients. Cardiologists from the CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center currently come to Willmar on average three days a week. Dr. Dan Tiede, Dr. Ben Johnson, Dr. David Miranda, Dr. Thom Dahle, Dr. Jamie Pelzel, Dr. Rick Jolkovsky, Dr. John Mahowald, and Dr. Jacob Dutcher are the primary cardiologists that come to Carris.

I am now staffed in Willmar four to five days per week. Most of the cardiology tests that are ordered can be done in Willmar for patient convenience. Collaboration between cardiology and the patient’s primary care provider takes place as needed, and all notes and updates are shared.

At Carris Health in Willmar we’re able to provide face-to-face cardiology visits; consults, follow-ups, and acute visits. Cardiology patients also have local availability for lab tests, echocardiograms, EKGs, heart monitors, CT scans, and stress tests.

The CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center’s mission is to bring expert cardiology care close to home. By providing this service, patients can conveniently see one of the Cardiology team members without traveling. If a patient does need more complex care such as open heart surgery, valve replacement, pacemaker or defibrillator implantation, or a more complex heart condition managed, it’s comforting to know that the doctors you see at Carris Health are the same doctors that will take care of you at CentraCare in St. Cloud.