Women’s Center APRNs Increase Access to Care

Christine Biolo APRN and Heather Kovac APRN are both nurse practitioners at the Charlotte Johnson Hollfelder Center for Women’s Health, located in the UConn Health Outpatient Pavilion in Farmington (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo).

The providers at UConn Health Women’s Center continually look for ways to serve an increasing number of patients who need care, and the addition of two new Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to the OB/GYN team improves patient access.

APRNs play a major role in the OB/GYN offices. In addition to diagnosing, treating, and managing acute chronic illness, they focus on health promotion, disease prevention, and health education and counseling, guiding patients to make smarter health and lifestyle choices.

Heather Kovac

With a mother who was a labor and delivery nurse and now directs a nursing program, Heather Kovac, APRN, says it’s no surprise she chose women’s health as a career. Unlike her mother, who taught at the university level, Kovac decided to stick with clinical care.

Kovac started her career as an OB scrub tech in labor and delivery 22 years ago and spent 10 years as a labor and delivery nurse before obtaining her advanced practice degree in 2013. Kovac, who joined UConn Health’s OB/GYN department in February and practices in the Farmington and Southington locations, sees patients for routine obstetric and gynecological visits, prenatal care, birth control, and emergent visits.

Kovac began her new position at UConn Health at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and shifted to telehealth visits, but is happily seeing patients in person again.

“While I enjoy all areas of my role, my favorite part of the job is working with young patients to educate them on preventing pregnancy and illnesses and to help them stay healthy,” Kovac says.

Christine Biolo

Christine Biolo, APRN, was a labor and delivery nurse at UConn Health before obtaining her master’s degree in 2018. She says she loves that UConn Health has all the resources of a large hospital, such as genetics services, its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), anesthesiology, and residents, while providing personal care that makes the hospital feel small.

Biolo sees patients in both the Farmington and Canton offices for a variety of OB/GYN needs. Her favorite is prenatal care.

“As a labor and delivery nurse I was with patients on one of the most important days of their life,” says Biolo. “Now I get to be with them throughout the pregnancy, from the beginning until birth.”

A large part of an APRN’s role is to spend time educating patients during their visits. During the family history screening, Biolo can learn more information about a patient’s family and, if necessary, refer the patient to the Division of Medical Genetics to identify issues early. This may change the trajectory of their life, she says. Biolo says her co-workers were supportive, approachable, and “amazing” mentors as she transitioned into her new role as an APRN.

“It’s great to work in an academic setting where continuous learning and growth is encouraged,” says Biolo. “It motivates you to increase your skill set and stay up to date on current practices.

“I am very fortunate to be employed by UConn Health,” she says. “Not only is it a great place to work, it’s an amazing place to receive care.”

This story appeared in the UConn Health Journal fall 2020 issue.

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