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Burgess Helps Patients By Listening

October 29, 2021 9:23 a.m.

  • Burgess, SBL Altamont Medical Center

Kim Burgess has known since she was a young girl that she wanted to take care of people. As the oldest grandchild in her family, she easily assumed the caregiving role, often helping with the younger kids at family gatherings throughout her life.


It seemed only natural that Burgess would select a career that aligned with these tendencies. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing 1999 and her master’s degree in nursing in 2003 at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville. Today, she’s an advanced practice provider at SBL Altamont Medical Center working in a busy family medicine practice with Family Physician John Opilka, DO, and three other Advanced Practice Providers, Randi Berg, APRN, Heather Foyrs, APRN, and Katie Koester, APRN.


“I started my nursing career at Sarah Bush Lincoln, first on Medical-Surgical nursing units and then Critical Care. I just loved the fast-paced environment,” she explained. Ready for a move, she took a part-time position with Dr. Opilka. And after a few years, it grew into a full-time position with him where she has spent the last 11 years. Burgess has no regrets!


“It’s really rewarding and fulfilling working in family medicine. I see newborns just a few days old for their first check-ups and care for them throughout their childhood and beyond. We also have a large population of people older than 65 that we care for, and I thoroughly enjoy that as well. We can all learn from these people who have experienced so many things in their lives. They are very wise,” Burgess added.


Burgess has built her practice by just sitting and listening to her patients. “I want patients to know that I’m there for them, whatever the case. I spend most of my time listening to them because they really probably already know what’s wrong. If we spend enough time listening to them, they will tell us what’s wrong,” she explained. “By developing a good rapport, and taking the time to listen to them, trust grows. I try to give my patients options or a plan that they can be a part of, and make treatment choices that best fits their lifestyle. I tell them that ‘You are in the driver’s seat. I’m just here to help you navigate this.’”


Burgess patterns her care style after one of the first nurse practitioners in the area. “When I was in high school, my provider was a nurse practitioner – Carol Warfield. She was my mentor. How she portrayed the role of nurse practitioner, her mentorship, her education, and striving to do the best, made me want to be just like her,” Burgess revealed.


Over the years, Dr. Opilka and Burgess have built a busy practice. “We are an excellent team. Dr. Opilka and I started together long ago and have developed a great rapport. We have similar goals and we recruited other individuals who fit into that culture. Together we have implemented high standards of care and collaborate on our patients. We are always there for each other,” she explained.


Burgess is married and has two children ages 20 and 17, and resides in Effingham. To make an appointment with Burgess, call 618 483-6151. The SBL Altamont Medical Center is located at 8 N. Third Street, Altamont.