Gabe Pacheco of G&M Medical Spa, back, monitors Randy Alkire during a free In-Body scan at the clinic recently. The scanner measures the body’s composition, such as muscle, fat and water. Amy Byres photo.

A local medical spa helps students studying to become nurse practitioners complete their clinical educational experiences after hospitals were forced to limit in-person learning due to the pandemic.

Gabe Pacheco is an owner of G&M Medical Center & MedSpa. He often thought of families who could not see loved ones in the hospital due to COVID, but never thought of the students who could not complete their clinicals, until Grand Canyon University contacted him, asking if students could shadow the center’s medical staff to complete their training.

G&M takes a “360 health” approach, combining spa and aesthetic treatments with primary care. The business accepts most insurance types and offers affordable care plans for people with no insurance or those who have high deductibles, Pacheco said.

“All these students couldn’t graduate because they couldn’t do their clinicals, so now we take on two to three students a semester. So we have had about 12 students so far,” he said.

It was like a snowball effect: After the first university contacted him, more followed. Pacheco is collaborating with a local college to train medical assistants on-site as part of the curriculum, he said.

Student Kelly Hook recently completed her clinicals at the center. She attends Walden University and is in the family nurse practitioner program, which is a master’s in nursing.

She said providers stopped taking students altogether because of the pandemic. When she learned G&M was working with students, she was relieved.

“It worked out really well because I live just about five minutes from there and I got to have a much more personal experience,” she said.

Because the center was taking on students, Hook never lost momentum in completing her education, she said.

“I am definitely thankful. I was thinking that my whole career and education would be pushed back. We didn’t know how long it could be — three months or it could’ve even been a year. At that point, no one really knew what was happening,” Hook said.

Working at the center really opened her eyes to the possibilities of her career being a nurse practitioner and maybe one day running her own practice, she said.

“The other thing that was really great about it was building these relationships with other local providers, that hopefully these relationships will last a lifetime or career time, and also it’s kind of neat because I got to see that aspect of the profession,” Hook said.

The medical center has a waiting list of students looking to complete clinicals there. Helping students in the medical field graduate has been a bright spot for the business through the pandemic.
“The students are thankful and very appreciative. It has been helpful on both sides,” Pacheco said.

The business has been adapting to changes COVID has brought, he said. The spa portion of its business closed early in the pandemic due to public-health orders, causing an immediate blow.
The primary care side of the center felt the effects three months later.

“If a provider sees a patient in March, insurance pays two to three months later,” he said. “We felt the effects more June/July when we didn’t have that many patients in the March-April area.”

This delay made it hard for Pacheco to prove the business was impacted by COVID to qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan and more. He said through constant emails and communication, the business was able to receive COVID relief, he said.

“The chamber worked with us really well and the process was really easy,” he said. “People really rallied behind us, our patients, our community, everybody started helping us out and ordering more online, so it was really nice that they kept us in business.”

The center adapted to COVID restrictions by utilizing telehealth and offering delivery of nutrition products. Pacheco said many primary care providers in the area retired early, causing an influx of new patients for G&M.

The medspa is also offering an InBody analysis with the goal to improve people’s health after the quarantine. An InBody scanner measures your body’s composition such as muscle, fat and water.
After the scan, Pacheco said he will walk people through the results and discuss options.

To learn more about the spa, visit gmmedicalcenter.com, text 257-2052, call 415-0719 or visit in-person at 1316 Jackie Road, Suite 500.

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Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer