Walhalla nurse practitioner opens her own private practice, The Little Frontier Clinic

Apr. 20—WALHALLA — Karla Parkes' hands are full with patients since opening her own private practice at the beginning of April in Walhalla.

Parkes, an advanced registered nurse practitioner, has been in town for around three years, previously working at Langdon Prairie Health. Her career as a nurse practitioner has taken her across the country, through states including Michigan, Maine, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and South Dakota. When she parted ways with Langdon Prairie Health, she and her husband, Stephen, discussed what to do next. She didn't want to leave.

"We fell in love with Walhalla," she said.

That love has transformed into her own health practice, The Little Frontier Clinic. The name was inspired by "Little House on the Prairie," and the moose on the clinic's sign comes from the

moose sculpture

that stands on the raised triangle at the intersection of N.D. Highway 32 and Pembina County Road 55 in town. Parkes provides general clinic and family practice care, as well as medical assisted therapy.

Getting the clinic prepared required credentials with different insurance providers, being surveyed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and ordering equipment the clinic needs, which Stephen Parkes said "starts with cotton balls and ends with exam tables."

"And everything in between," he said.

The clinic's open house on April 6 brought a number of Walhalla residents into the facility, which Karla Parkes said has a calm, "spa-like" atmosphere, complete with photography and art by local residents. Parkes said it was nice to see her neighbors and patients again after the busy work of getting the clinic set up kept her busy.

"It's like I grew up here," she said. "It was really heartwarming and welcoming. Why would anybody want to live anywhere else?"

Stephen Parkes said residents stop and speak to him and refer to his wife as their doctor, "Doctor Karla." With his wife's packed schedule and her tendency to do home visits and after-hour appointments, he compares her to a Walhalla version of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," a fictional character from the television show of the same name who set off to run her own practice in a rural Colorado town.

"She's a smart cookie — she really is," he said. "If you spend enough years with a small community, you get to know them really well, and Karla treats them really well."

Their years with the community have also involved multiple nonprofit ventures: Tuthill Animal Refuge, a refuge that takes in dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and horses; Blizzard of North Dakota ski club, a club that teaches children how to ski and take care of their skiing equipment; and Libertas, an organization partnered with the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services to provide help to residents in Cavalier, Pembina and Walsh counties with post-incarceration challenges.

For Karla Parkes, the work is enjoyable.

"It's hard, but I'd rather be busy than not," she said. "We both have our own things to do."