Growing up in a town with a population under 1,000 where he was one of 28 people in his high school graduating class, Bradley Bigford MSN APRN “realized the lack of access to healthcare in rural areas.” Bigford, a nurse practitioner and his wife Nancy, an RN, co-founded Table Rock Mobile Medicine to provide medical access to rural and suburban residents in Boise, Idaho and surrounding towns. Their practice, which also includes two other NPs, one DNP and a staff phlebotomist, promotes “Healthcare without the hassle” of travel.
Table Rock even offers a line of branded apparel, including a heather gray t-shirt that reads “Vaccines Cause Adults,” a controversial caption in America’s fifth most Republican state. But Bigford has seen the ravages of the pandemic first-hand in a state where the vaccination rates are among the lowest in the country and a city that initially had one of the highest concentrations of people testing positive in the nation. He is active on social media to counter misinformation that often spreads as fast at the virus.
“You can really feel it in terms of who is getting sick really fast,” he tells Regis College Assistant Professor Lawana Brown. “Right now, Boise and Idaho are seeing a mass trauma in front of us…so if we’re not doing everything we possibly can right now, then we’re going to see a loss and trauma like we’ve never seen since the 1918 pandemic.”
Bigford encourages listening, not lecturing, relishing the trust patients have for nurse practitioners, but he also believes in candor. “People were like, ‘It’s like wearing a seatbelt,’” he shares. “It’s not like wearing a seatbelt because the seatbelt doesn’t protect other drivers. It’s like not driving drunk because when you’re vaccinated, you’re protecting your neighbors, you’re protecting those vulnerable people.”
Recognized by Johnson and Johnson on its list of “15 Nurses Who Disrupted Healthcare Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic” for initiating a PPE-sharing plan at the height of the shortage, Bigford laments the lack of concern for one another: “When I see so many people in my neighborhood and my community against the vaccine, they are not being good neighbors,” he says, “and it just break my heart.”