FAU’s María de los Ángeles Ortega to Lead Nursing Clinical Care
(Photo by Alex Dolce)
María de los Ángeles
Florida Atlantic University’s María de los Ángeles Ortega Hernández, DNP, APRN, GNP-BC, PMHNP-BC, CDP, FAANP, FAAN, is at the forefront of clinical care for the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing . Since 2014, she has served as director of the FAU Louis and Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center, which provides a comprehensive array of personalized services and programs of care, support, research, education and community outreach.
Ortega’s newest role as associate dean of clinical practice now places her at the helm of clinical care for both the Green Memory and Wellness Center and the FAU and Northwest Community Health Alliance's Community Health Center (FAU/NCHA CHC), operated by the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. She will collaborate with FAU/NCHA CHC executive director Karethy Edwards, Dr.PH, APRN, professor and associate dean for academic programs; and clinical director Desiree’ T. Weems, APRN, a certified nurse practitioner.
At the Green Memory and Wellness Center, Ortega oversees programs in memory, wellness, cognitive and neuropsychological testing, driving evaluations, caregiver programs and support, behavioral health (mental health, counseling, and psychiatry), and an adult day program for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). In addition to the services provided, the center conducts research on best practices in care for individuals with ADRD as well as family caregiver support.
During the pandemic, the program successfully transitioned almost all services offered pre-COVID-19 to virtual telehealth and telemedicine-based platforms and tele-social work services. In addition, the program opened access to include out-of-state and out-of-country participants. In the last two years, the program has expanded to include behavioral and mental health services for patients and caregivers, integrating psychiatry and psychotherapy consultations and treatment. The project also has expanded to meet the needs of individuals who are unable to come to the facilities and those who are uninsured.
At the FAU/NCHA CHC, advanced practice nurses in collaboration with other health care providers offer an array of pediatric, adult and geriatric services. FAU was the first university in Florida to be designated by the United States Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), as a “Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Look-Alike.” An FQHC is a clinic that provides comprehensive primary, behavioral health and preventive care to patients of all ages in underserved and rural areas. The purpose of FQHCs is to serve communities that may have financial disadvantages, language barriers, geographic barriers, or other specific needs.
Among the FAU/NCHA CHC services include mental health assessments, medication management, and behavioral interventions focused on restoration of function and quality of life; pediatric services, immunizations, and screenings; and adolescent services including physical exams, screenings, and education regarding high-risk behaviors. The center also provides gynecological prenatal and obstetric services. Other services include geriatric care as well as routine sick and health maintenance, preventive care and chronic disease management for adults 18 and older.
As an American Diabetes Association “Diabetes Certified Education Center,” services at the FAU/NCHA CHC also include diabetes patient and family education.
“All of our programs in the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing are grounded in caring to create a healing and supportive environment for the patients and families we serve throughout South Florida and beyond,” said Ortega. “I am excited and honored to expand the scope of my responsibilities and services to help our patients achieve their best physical, social and emotional health and well-being.”
Ortega is a board-certified gerontological and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner who continues her practice as a clinician and specializes in caring for the older adult. She is nationally certified as a dementia practitioner. Her work focuses on transforming health care environments by providing person and family centered care, interprofessional, culturally responsive, and linguistically appropriate evidence-based interventions, opening and increasing access to dementia specific care and supportive services for diverse populations living with ADRD and their family caregivers. Ortega’s practice experience encompasses nursing rehabilitation facilities (skilled nursing, post-acute, and long-term care) and memory disorder clinics. The focus of her doctoral work was aimed at enhancing care in skilled nursing facilities through excellence in clinical practice and care coordination.
“Dr. Ortega is at the forefront of clinical care, leadership, teaching, research and policy development to advance health care for our most vulnerable populations throughout this region,” said Safiya George, Ph.D., dean, Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. “In her latest role as associate dean for clinical care, she will bring a wealth of knowledge, innovative thinking and compassionate care to spearhead our clinical and outreach programs, which are nationally recognized for providing timely, high-quality and patient-centered care.”