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Heather Mosley | SBJ

2022 Health Care Champions Technician: Matt Havens

Citizens Memorial Hospital

Posted online

Matt Havens’ background in social work influences the way he approaches his job as a physician’s assistant for Citizens Memorial Hospital.

Wait times for psychiatric specialist appointments are notoriously lengthy, but Havens has the ability to address serious mental health concerns more quickly in a primary care setting.

“I try to never forget to take the time to listen to my patients,” Havens says. “Many times, the best medicine is someone taking the time to see them as a person and not just as their diagnosis.

“Undoubtedly, there are times when medication intervention is necessary, and now I am able to address this need as well.”

It’s not uncommon for Havens’ patients to receive treatment for multiple health issues during one visit. His desire to provide more all-encompassing care fueled his decision to earn his master’s degree in physician assistant studies from Missouri State University.

“I have a vivid memory of my graduate interview when I was seeking to become a student at the MSU PA program,” he says. “I was asked, ‘How do you see yourself, as a PA, affecting rural health care in southwest Missouri?’ I remember that my response entailed a desire to treat marginalized populations but in particular treating patients with mental health needs as a ‘whole’ person.”

Havens adds that in his PA role, he has achieved that desire.

“I wanted to see a patient and address their diabetes, strep throat and depression all in one visit. I have been able to see that desire come to fruition in a dear patient of mine,” he says.

Still grateful for the lessons he learned while studying at MSU, he volunteers as a guest lecturer about four times each year and plays an active role in the university’s physician assistant advisory board.

“The lecturing and precepting keeps me on my toes by having to stay up to date regarding both mental and physical health medicine,” he says.

At CMH’s Butterfield Park Medical Center, Havens works with his patients to overcome obstacles that keep them from achieving their best health, particularly financial barriers.

He often sees patients with chronic health issues like obesity, diabetes and coronary artery disease.

“It is much cheaper and easier to buy highly processed foods that put individuals at risk of obesity and the multiple health concerns that result from it,” Havens says. “While I cannot alleviate economic status concerns, I have been able to work with patients on healthy choices within the bounds of their finances.”

Cost is a factor he also takes into consideration when determining the best medication to prescribe, and he believes everyone deserves access to quality and personalized health care.

“Rural Missouri can seem quite homogenous, but under the surface lies a great deal of diversity,” he says. “Many individuals in marginalized populations do not know where to turn. Helping LGBTQ individuals address health needs specific to their community or find support has become a growing area of need that I hope to address.”

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