2017 Sherman Emerging Leader Prize Recipient

Heidi Drescher, MMS, PA-C

Physician Assistant, Community Physician Group, Community Medical Center, Missoula, MT

Heidi Drescher brings hope to rural, underserved, patients

Passion for Advocacy

Physician Assistant Heidi Drescher is an inspiration to both IBD patients and gastroenterology providers in her rural community of Missoula, Montana. The only IBD-focused health professional in a 200-mile radius, Ms. Drescher has built a reputation as an innovative, determined and caring IBD specialist.

“I think it is part of my role to advocate for my patients. I’m all they have. And for most of them, this is potentially their last hope.”

Following the latest research, Ms. Drescher ensures her patients benefit from the most recent advances and best practices in IBD treatment. This includes using approved medications, aggressively when needed, and taking a holistic approach to patient care.

In every visit, Ms. Drescher talks to her patients about diet, exercise and wellness, as well as coordinates psychosocial support from behavioral health specialists who understand the special needs of people with IBD. In doing so, she has observed a dramatic reduction in her patients’ need for narcotic pain control, acute office care and emergency room visits.

“All IBD patients deserve to receive excellent evidence-based care – whether being treated at a major medical center or in a small practice like mine.”

Beyond providing medical care, Ms. Drescher wears many hats — at times taking on the role of social worker and advocate to help her patients through difficult circumstances.

Many are uninsured or underinsured, and Ms. Drescher has been known to follow up personally with insurers and patient assistance programs, as well as stand up at state Medicaid meetings to defend patients’ access to a broad range of medication options.

“We now have powerful medications at our disposal that can often change the disease course if we recognize, diagnose and treat in a timely fashion, and that’s what I strive to do every day on behalf of my patients.”