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Clinch River Health Services has been serving patients since 1978

Tanja Moody • Sep 26, 2012 at 4:12 AM

Clinch River Health Services is a smooth blend of new and old.

Its building is only a little more than a year old. But Clinch River Health Services has been serving Scott County and nearby Russell, Wise and Lee counties since 1978. And some staff members have been familiar faces for more than two decades, including Executive Director Carolyn Bowen and Drs. Gary Michael and Todd Cassel.

"When I first started here, we had only one doctor," Bowen recalled. "We’ve gone from a staff of four or five to our current staff of 24."

The larger staff is just one indication of growth. The center is in its second location after outgrowing its original location, which began with 3,000 square feet. Even after doubling that space in 1997 with a building addition, things were tight.

With 12,000 square feet in its current location, services have grown as well. Since the closest hospitals are in Norton and Lebanon, the center fills a necessary void. Primarily a family practice, it also provides women’s services, prenatal care up to the 34th week of pregnancy, an on-site lab, limited digital x-rays, casting, minor surgeries, IV rehydration and pharmacy access. Behavioral Health Counselor Karen Odle also uses telepsychiatry technology through the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

"It’s like using a TV," Bowen said. "And a doctor in Charlottesville can actually talk back-and-forth to a patient here."

The newest project that the center is working toward is being recognized by 2013 as a Patient Centered Medical Home.

"This looks at patients as a whole, providing them with a plan and goals to achieve better health," Bowen explained. "And providing them with resources and education."

The center already uses electronic medical records. Through the Patient Centered Medical Home, patients get a portal that gives them access to some of their information online and the ability to leave notes for their doctors. That technology might be ready to launch as early as next month, Bowen said.

"Patients can ask for refills through the portal or ask to set up an appointment," Dr. Michael said. "We’ve been trying to collect email addresses from patients, because sometimes it would be nice to send out a mass email, like to let them know when flu shots are available."

As a community-sponsored health center, Clinch River Health Services receives federal funds through the Bureau of Primary Health Care. Grants from that agency allow the center to take care of uninsured or under-insured patients. Discounted services are offered based on family income. Almost all insurances are accepted, Bowen said.

Currently, Dr. Michael is adding new patients on an as-needed basis. Donna Sparks, FNP, is taking other new patients. The center has approximately 4,000 active patients with close to 16,000 visits a year.

An ongoing capital fundraising effort is also under way to pay back the $2.2 million loan taken out to build the new facility. Bricks that will be used in future landscaping at the site are being sold in honor or memory of individuals.

For more information about purchasing a brick, or to make an appointment at the center, call 276-467-2201.

Clinch River Health Services is located at 17285 Veterans Memorial Highway in Dungannon, Va. Business hours are as follows: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday and Wednesday; 10:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday. The after-hours phone number is 423-378-0382.

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