Q & A with Coastal Bend NP Ernest Castaneda
Friday, December 20, 2019
Posted by: Erin Cusack
This week at TNP we are highlighting NP Ernest Castaneda. Castaneda and his wife Linda opened up their own practice in their coastal hometown of Kingsville. The couple has been in the healthcare field for over 30 years, providing accessible, affordable, quality healthcare to their community together. They were also recently named the business of the month by the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce.
Q: What made you decide to get into the healthcare field?
A: I followed my now-wife into the nursing field, and we attended LVN school together over 30 years ago. Growing up, I often helped my parents care for my little brother who had Cerebral Palsy because he needed total assistance for his activities of daily living. Becoming a nurse was second nature to me. I continue to enjoy taking care of people and educating them on how to better care for themselves as well. I continue to encourage anyone who is interested in getting into nursing to do so, as I feel it is one of the most versatile degrees out there that offers so many opportunities for earning a good living.
Q: Why is accessible, quality healthcare in Texas necessary?
A: Texas ranks near the top of the list of states in the U.S. with the largest lack of access to healthcare. As a Texan, I am not proud of being near the top of this list. Texas is big and geographically disperse, so this contributes to the lack of care that is available to the entire population. Texans deserve to have greater access to high quality healthcare throughout the state. Kleberg County, where I live, is a good example of the shortage of access to healthcare. Kingsville has over 25,000 citizens and is the County seat and the location of a small hospital. The next closest hospital is over 30 miles away. The population of Kleberg County also includes several other smaller towns to raise the overall population to just over 30,000 Texans. We have only four primary care physicians, one physician assistant, and my clinic to care for these 30,000 individuals. The other offices operate with scheduled patients and can only add up to 5 walk-in patients per week and have normal business hours. My wife and I saw the need of increased access to healthcare in our area and decided to do something about it by opening our clinic. We’re open 7 days a week with extended hours, and we have been very successful -- and busy.
Q: What is the best part of getting to help patients and serving the Kingsville community as a NP?
A: The best part of getting to help the patients in my community are the bonds that we develop with each of them and the appreciation they show us for being available when they need care. Having a walk-in clinic that is affordable has been the biggest compliment that we receive daily. We are drawing patients from within our county as well as from the neighboring counties (Jim Wells, Brooks, and Nueces). The fact that three of the local physician offices have reached out to us prior to taking their vacations to ask if we could be available to their patients while the doctors are out has been confirmation that we are doing a good job caring for our community. We have agreements with our local university to see students and athletes when their on-campus clinic is booked or not available. We also have agreements with our County employees and the local U. S. Border Patrol offices to see patients and detainees in our office.
Q: What is it like working alongside your wife?
A: We have worked alongside each other during various times in our nursing career over the past 30 years without any issues. We work well together because we complement each other well. We are each other’s biggest support and helped each other so much through all our schooling. We both have the same vision of how we want to help our community and are always discussing new ideas that we have for our business together.
Q: Can you recall a time you knew you were in the right profession?
A: I have these moments each day that remind me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing in life.
Q: How has opening up your own practice changed your life?
A: It’s gotten busier, for sure, but it has taken away the pressures that come from having to work for someone else and trying to meet their expectations daily. Now we can set our own goals and work towards them at our pace and we are never disappointed with our results.
Q: What do you do in your downtime?
A: We love to cruise, and we like to go fishing. We have been to the Caribbean many times and we are planning an Alaskan cruise in May of next year. We are very excited about our upcoming trip and have many other cruising destinations in mind for the future.
Q: What is one cause, charity or organization you are fond of outside of the nursing field?
A: We are fond of several children’s charities and we often give to local charities that help families and the homeless. We like to participate in many community events locally to show our appreciation for the overwhelming support that our patients have given us. My wife and I each serve on a couple of committees aimed at improving different aspects of issues in our community.