Virgin Islands native Keyma Hansby was a 7-year-old child when her family moved to Delaware. The now 41-year-old Hansby, a nurse practitioner, recently opened her own practice in Middleton, Del., with plans to later open up a similar site locally.

She and her family moved from Anna’s Retreat when her father, local jockey Antonio Hansby, got the opportunity of a lifetime. He was offered a chance to ride horses on the U.S. mainland as a professional jockey,.

Six months ago, Hansby opened Advanced Family Care with Flavee Banfield, 32, her business partner who also has Caribbean roots, in Middleton.

Hansby said that she and Banfield, a native of Trinidad, initially met working as registered nurses at a Delaware hospital. Then, they were nurse practitioners together at a federally qualified health center for about six years.

A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse who has earned either a master’s of science in nursing or a doctorate of nursing practice. They have more authority than registered nurses and have similar responsibilities to that of a doctor, according to Nurses.org.

Nurse practitioners can serve as a primary care or specialty care provider and typically focus their care on a specific population, such as families, children or the elderly. “We were working for the traditional health care system where we would be seeing 25 patients a day. We would take a lot of work home. We were kind of miserable in our role,” Hansby said of feeling overwhelmed. “We decided to open our own practice so patients would have more time and access to their provider. It’s called direct primary care.”

The American Academy of Family Physicians describes the direct primary care model as one wherefamily physicians provide a meaningful alternative to fee-for-service insurance billing, typically by charging patients a monthly, quarterly or annual fee.

Patients at Advanced Family Care pay a monthly fee.

“With that fee, you get direct access to your provider — so you can call, text me or video chat with me anytime. You have 60-minute appointments, as opposed to the 10 to 15-minute appointments we have with traditional health care,” Hansby said.

The transition to her own practice was easy, she said.

“Since we were used to taking care of patients who were uninsured or underinsured, we incorporated resources for that population into our practice,” she said. “We also made it affordable for those who have a high deductible insurance, but want more of a personalized approach to their healthcare.”

In addition to a more direct line of contact with the medical providers, Advanced Family Care also offers discounted lab work, imaging, access to on-site wholesale medication and more.

Opening a medical practice in the midst of the pandemic would seem like a crazy idea to some, but Hansby said she and Banfield saw an opportunity to help people with the direct primary care model.

“People were really struggling to get into their primary care provider with all the restrictions, so we thought it would be the perfect time to open up, because we offer tele-health visits and our spaced-out appointments where we don’t have a lot of people in our waiting room,” she said. “That gives plenty of opportunity for social distancing and for people to feel safe when they’re coming into the office.”

Although young when she moved from St. Thomas, Hansby said she has not forgotten her island roots, and it’s what has helped her in her new venture.

“I learned from my early upbringing the importance of family. I think the culture in the islands is very family-oriented and I learned to appreciate that from early on,” she said.

While Delaware is home, and has popular beaches like Rehoboth, where President Biden is said to have a summer home, it isn’t Magen’s Bay.

“It is a privilege to be born in St. Thomas. There is nothing like coming back home to the rich culture, the beautiful beaches and a loving family,” Hansby said.

She and Banfield have talked about someday opening up a practice on their respective islands.

“That’s definitely something we have thought about doing in the future as we become more established,” Hansby said. “Coming back home and giving back to our community. I think this will be something that would be really good for St. Thomas or Trinidad.”