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Team approach to lupus care being tested at Duke Health

A new project incubating at Duke Advanced Practice Provider Leadership Institute (APPLI) seeks to foster a team approach to lupus care at Duke Health in Durham, North Carolina.

The project is being led by Keisha-Gaye O’Garo, a clinical psychologist, and Karen McCain, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, both from Duke University School of Medicine.

Both recognized the need to address barriers faced by lupus patients and provide equitable healthcare. Lupus is a complex, long-term disease that requires input from various medical specialists, making a team approach essential. It causes skin rashes, joint pain, and fatigue. Its symptoms can be mild to severe and can come and go. There is no cure, but symptoms can improve if treated early.

Anyone can develop lupus, but it occurs more often in women. It’s also more common in those with a family history of the disease and in Black and Latino communities.

“We decided to target lupus because it has extremely high mortality rates for Black females, in some cases at a very young age,” O’Garo said in a university news release. “And we need to start talking to one another about how to address some of the barriers they face and ensure we’re providing equitable health care.”

The project features a rheumatologist, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, clinical social worker, psychologist, registered dietitian, and physical therapist working as a team to provide comprehensive care. The approach draws inspiration from a care model O’Garo saw during an internship at an intensive pain program for veterans.


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