BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Nestled in north Baton Rouge, the Cortana Mall has had numerous stores close, leaving a large empty space.
Shetila Burrell, FNP is changing that. In January, she decided the increasingly vacant mall was the perfect place to open the doors of her Heart 2 Heart Care Clinic.
"I grew up in this area,” Burrell said. “I've always wanted to give back to the community and this area because this is where I was born, I mean raised."
Burrell is a family nurse practitioner who decided just working at a hospital was not enough.
"I was looking around trying to figure out how can I help this community because when they come to other places that I worked in Baton Rouge or they missed their appointments, they were like, ‘I don’t have a ride, I don’t have this, I don’t have that,’ so me being conveniently here at Cortana Mall makes it very easy for a lot of people not to miss their appointments,” she said.
She says she chose the mall since it’s close to a bus stop and is in the middle of an underserved area for healthcare, which is something that strikes a chord with Burrell.
"When I was active duty in the military, my brother was at a local hospital and he passed away, but I thought there was more to be done to save him,” she said. “I said I’m going to do anything, any part or position that I can hold in healthcare, I’m going to make that change to anybody, to impact anybody I come in contact with. Make sure they get the care that they need because a lot of people are not educated on what they’re capable of receiving and then a lot of people throw medicine at people and they’re not educated on how to take care of themselves without taking all that medicine.”
She has poured thousands of dollars of her own money into the clinic to get it running and works two jobs just to make sure her bills are paid.
“I’m sacrificing what I need to, to be where I need to be," she said.
In her opinion, that sacrifice is necessary to meet her goal of providing affordable healthcare to all.