Kathrine Ware: a commitment to patients

When it comes to her patients at the UC Davis Vascular Center, Kathrine Ware’s commitment is unwavering.

“The underlying disease process is atherosclerosis and atherosclerosis doesn’t go away,” said Ware, explaining that hardening of the arteries is incurable. “So there’s a long-term relationship with the patient. Once you’re a vascular patient, you’re always our patient.”

Kathrine Ware of the Vascular Center counsels a patient
Kathrine Ware counsels a patient

The same is true for those with impaired venous systems. As part of an overall treatment plan devised by both doctors and nurses, vascular patients return to the center on a regular basis to receive long-term care from providers like Ware, a nurse practitioner and board-certified vascular nurse with a master’s degree in nursing.

The focus of these sessions, which typically last an hour or more, is on what Ware termed “risk-factor and lifestyle modifications.”

She counsels patients on their underlying disease processes and on how to stop or limit smoking, improve diet, increase exercise and reduce stress. And she performs complex wound care on patients prone to wounds that won’t heal.

“Our main goal is to prevent the disease process from getting worse,” Ware said. “We want the patient to be as healthy and functional as possible.”

The long-term relationship with patients, along with the opportunity to make a positive difference in their lives, is what Ware likes best about what she does.

“Over time I can really facilitate improving a patient’s health,” Ware said.

“The bottom line is it excellent preventive care that saves health-care resources and reduces emergency treatment,” Ware said.

Ware’s job is made easier by the UC Davis Vascular Center’s high level of nursing expertise – three of her colleagues are also certified in vascular nursing.

Ware noted that the center provides something else that is unique – extensive communication and collaboration between the inpatient and outpatient settings.

“Both inpatient and outpatient nursing coordinators work with the physician team to make sure all the patients’ needs are met,” she explained.

Along with follow-up care, Ware keeps tabs on patients’ conditions – looking, as an example, for warning signs of strokes. Ware also assists low-income patients, arranging for services like meals on wheels, transportation, in-home support, and access to dressing materials and medications.

“The bottom line is it excellent preventive care that saves health-care resources and reduces emergency treatment,” Ware said.

Ware earned a bachelor’s degree in 1983 from San Diego State University. After several years as a critical care nurse, she took a job at the outpatient surgery clinic at UC Davis Medical Center in 1992.  Four years later, she became the clinical coordinator for vascular surgery.

In 2003, Ware returned to graduate school to get her master’s degree. After a brief stint with another health system, Ware was back at UC Davis – this time as a nurse practitioner with the newly created UC Davis Vascular Center.

Appointed by the governor to serve as a member of the State Board of Registered Nursing, Ware would like to become more involved in health policy.

“The time is ripe for meaningful change with health-care reform,” Ware said, noting that the landmark federal law contains “multiple points related to nurses,” such as fully funding nurse-managed health centers.

“Nurses are an important part of the solution,” Ware added.