Since she returned to The Dalles last summer, after many years away, family nurse practitioner Johanna Nesse has received lots of warm welcome homes.
It’s been nice, she says, if not just a little surreal, since she hasn’t been remembering most of the people who have recognized her. Nesse did, after all, leave The Dalles when she was only 10.
Still, she says, the reception “has been very gratifying. I get all these warm greetings from people I don’t even know. It’s a very friendly and cheerful place.”
Nesse says her parents, Dr. Rolf and Anne Nesse, are the reason the community is treating her like an old friend. Dr. Nesse was a family practice physician in The Dalles for many years before the family moved to Idaho.
He still practices medicine in the Spokane Valley and his love for helping people was passed on to his daughter. Joanne spent most of the last decade in Colorado, attending school and earning a master’s of science degree in nursing at the University of Colorado. She then worked with heart patients at Swedish Medical Center in Denver.
“I think a lot of my drive to get a master’s degree in nursing was that I wanted to be more involved in the day-to-day care of patients over a long period of time,” Nesse says. “I wanted to go into general family practice and there weren’t a lot of opportunities to do that in Colorado.”
Ultimately she found her golden opportunity with the hometown hospital where she was born. She is now practicing with Judy Richardson, MD, and Carrie Vieira, PA-C, at Columbia Crest Clinic, Family Practice in The Dalles.
As a nurse practitioner, Nesse sees her own patients and diagnoses and treats ailments. She can prescribe medications and order tests, referring patients to a physician as necessary depending on their needs.
“I want to be more involved in preventive medicine, helping patients before they develop chronic disease,” she says. “I want to catch them before they need to enter the hospital and help them live their lives the way they want to live them.”
Her experience with the MCMC family so far has told her she made the right decision when choosing the next stage of her medical career.
“I think it’s a great community of providers, she says. “I like the Planetree philosophy and I see it exhibited in the interaction staff members have with patients and with each other.”
Nesse says she is also once again enjoying the small-town friendliness of the area as well as its natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor recreation.
She is an avid long-distance runner and likes to participate in half-marathons, ideally those run on mountain trails. She’s also been snow skiing since she was 5 years old.
Nesse also loves music. She’s played the violin since she was 3 and enjoys everything from Bach to more contemporary genres.
She and her partner of 11 years, Harley Judd, were recently married. They have a dog they named Sigmund.
Nesse is looking forward to meeting more members of the The Dalles community in her new practice.
“When you meet people as a healthcare provider you are on a different level with them in terms of trust – they open up to you,” she says. “You see a lot of people you would never get to meet otherwise and you get to help them with whatever they’re struggling with. You go from meeting them for the first time to immediately helping them solve their problems.”
She hopes to have a long career in The Dalles caring for hometown patients of all ages. Like father, like daughter.