Libertyville nurse advocates for patients
Teri Dreher, owner of North Shore Patient Advocates of Libertyville, meets with client Marcia Mackay at Brentwood North Nursing Center. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
North Shore Patient Advocates
SPECIALTY: Helping patients through medical options and procedures
LOCATION: 416 W. Golf Road, Libertyville
CONTACT: (847) 612-6684; www.northshorern.com
Updated: January 28, 2013 1:57AM
LIBERTYVILLE — Teri Dreher knows the importance of having a nurse in the family.
A nurse for 36 years, Dreher was the one who accompanied her father-in-law when he became sick and then suffered medical complications while the family was on a cruise five years ago.
The doctors almost released her father-in-law before Dreher raised questions and got more tests done. Those further tests got him the treatment he needed.
“There are a lot of medical errors that occur,” Dreher said. “There are a lot of people who slip through the cracks. … If I were not there, he would have died.”
Dreher is now looking to be that family nurse for area residents without a nurse in the family. The Libertyville critical care nurse has established North Shore Patient Advocates, working on behalf of individuals going through the health care system.
Patient Advocates, according to Dreher, is uniquely qualified to walk alongside clients and make certain they are educated, empowered and safe when they have medical challenges. She said she helps doctors and hospitals improve safety and she spends time with patients who need extra attention.
“Doctors have to do more and more paperwork,” Dreher said. “They are not able to spend as much time talking to patients, explaining things to them.”
A doctor may have only five minutes to meet with a patient and answer questions.
“I can spend 30 minutes or an hour with the person,” Dreher said.
She does not tell patients what they should or shouldn’t do, but leaves that decision up to them and their family.
Dreher has worked in the emergency room at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and in the intensive care unit at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion.
“I like to take care of very ill patients,” Dreher said.
With a national health program on the way, Dreher sees her service as becoming even more important. She said her efforts can cut down on hospital errors and make sure patients are getting the care they need.
“People are going to need some help. Seniors are going to need someone working on their behalf,” Dreher said. “Some people may want to ask a lot of questions.”
Nationally accredited through a program affiliated with the University of Arizona School of Nursing, Dreher is also a national member of two nurse advocacy organizations that are spearheading the new field of patient advocacy. Only one other nurse in the Chicago area — a woman in the Naperville area — is providing similar services, Dreher said.
Dreher, who has three clients right now, said she normally has between two and five clients at a time. She can envision a time in the not-too-distant future when she turns the part-time business into a full-time operation and serves between 10 and 15 patients at a time. She keeps her client base within 90 minutes of her home.
“I would like nothing better than to help people with health choices.”