As about a dozen people waited to fill their grocery bags at the Island Food Pantry on a recent afternoon, Lila Fischer unfolded the legs of a card table near the entrance to the Stone Church basement. She is the Island’s new community health nurse and this was one of several free wellness clinics she would offer that week.

She set out her business cards, unpacked her manual blood pressure cuff and hung her stethoscope around her neck. Just a few months into the job, she’s already becoming a familiar face.

“It’s the blood pressure lady!” someone called out.

In Ms. Fischer’s efforts to promote healthy living, a simple blood pressure check is often how it starts: the shedding of the coat, gentle straightening of the left arm, wrapping the cuff around the upper arm and placing the drum of the stethoscope on the inside of the elbow. From there, a seed of trust begins to form.

“Sometimes just getting people to sit, it’s an opportunity to get them to open up,” Ms. Fischer said of her patients. For some, the pop-up clinic is a rare face-to-face interaction with a healthcare professional.

Just a few months into the job, Ms. Fisher is already becoming a familiar face. — Maggie Shannon

“So many people struggle with the health care system, and people oftentimes have a lot of questions about health conditions. And I think I’m a very non-threatening piece of the health care puzzle,” Ms. Fischer said.

In the few minutes as she takes her stethoscope out of her ears and deflates the blood pressure cuff, someone may confide that they don’t have health insurance, or they aren’t able to afford good food, or that they are struggling to manage their chronic condition. Handing out pamphlets and phone numbers, Ms. Fischer connects them with resources: a health insurance enrollment specialist, assistance applying for SNAP benefits, or a free lifestyle and health course.

“My best conversations are when people have an aha moment or find out they can change something they didn’t know they could change,” Ms. Fischer said.

The public nurse position is funded jointly through the six towns boards of health. It has existed on the Island for decades, though this is the first time since 2014 it is managed by an Island-based organization. Ms. Fischer started her position on July 1. She works with the Edgartown community health center Island Health Care, which aims to expand health care access, including to both low-income people and those who don’t speak English. The previous public health nurse was managed by the Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod.

Tisbury health agent Maura Valley said she is pleased the position has returned to an Island organization.

“A lot of the people Island Health Care serves already are the people we’re trying to reach,” she said. “They have a good sense of what’s needed on the Island.”

Island Health Care director Cynthia Mitchell said Ms. Fischer has already brought more people to the health center, citing increased enrollment in community health classes since she took over the job.

Michael Furber gets his blood pressure checked at the Chilmark library. — Maggie Shannon

“Lila was born and raised here. She’s very community-minded, and her family is a long time community-minded family,” Mrs. Mitchell said. “She has a public health mindset, and she’s a good fit for a community health center.”

Ms. Fischer grew up on Flat Point Farm and went to the West Tisbury School. She completed a 15-month accelerated nursing program in Boston last fall with the sponsorship of a Vineyard Vision Fellowship.

She began her journey into medicine as a doula and a professional midwife, studying in Mexico with the renowned birth expert Angelina Martinez and later running a birth clinic for six months in rural Uganda. She also worked in El Paso, helping with the births of women crossing the border from Juarez. She has assisted with upwards of 250 births in homes and birth centers, and delivered about 100 babies herself. She said in her new role, newborn home visits are her favorite part.

“I really like being with people through that transition in life, it’s very exciting,” she said. “It’s also an opportunity to promote health because you’re starting a new life in a healthy way.”

She said after working abroad, returning to the Island in a health care role has been emotional. For her, the Island was always an idyll. Now, making home visits to the elders and the isolated, serving the homeless and food insecure, she spends time with the most vulnerable.

“I’m kind of seeing the Island in a whole new light,” she said. “It’s a different kind of challenge when you’re in your own community. The struggles are, you see them in a different light, or maybe it’s somehow heavier because you’re more connected to the problems.”

At the Island Food Pantry, Ms. Fischer continued to greet people and ask if they wanted their blood pressure checked.

“I have to kind of hawk people,” she said sheepishly. Some people immediately sat down with her, telling her their health history. Others said no, thank you. Several considered for a moment, then said, “Maybe next time.”

“Okay,” Ms. Fischer said, not pushing. When next time comes, she’ll be there.