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 Monday, August 25, 2014
Serving The Land Between the Lakes - Philpott and Smith Mountain News Search   

 

The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

Free Clinic of Central Virginia benefits from SML Home Tour
Click to Enlarge
Courtesy Photo : FCCV Director Bob Barlow, standing near door, and a group of dental students with Dr. Gene Chianelli of Moneta, seated at lower right, along with his wife, Emily, are Home Tour volunteers.

By KATHY LIETZ - Special to the News-Post

The waiting room has seen a vast amount of traffic today, as it does most days. There are 30 or so well-worn chairs, many occupied. Piles of magazines and health literature are in disarray. Four office volunteers scurry to process a mountain of patient files.

Two women come in, dressed in ethnic robes. One has a little boy on her hip. She had not been to the clinic in a while but wants her son to be vaccinated. The office volunteers deferred their other tasks and focused on finding the mother's file and completing the requalification assessment.

The mission of Free Clinic of Central Virginia Inc. (FCCV) is to provide primary medical, nursing, dental, pharmaceutical and health educational services to those in Central Virginia who do not have the resources to obtain basic health care. Services are provided to those with incomes at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level -- which varies with the Cost of Living Index. Currently that translates to an individual income below $22,000, increasing with family size. A large percentage of FCCV's clients are the working poor.

In 1987, a number of churches in Lynchburg held a joint Lenten retreat. One speaker was Estelle Avner, who ran the Roanoke Free Clinic. The idea of starting a medical clinic that served those without access to medical care caught fire that day. The retreat participants, including several doctors, pledged to start a free clinic in Lynchburg. A combination of a faith based community and medical leaders who took ownership of the idea led to the formation and continued success of this charity.

FCCV currently provides services to residents of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Campbell counties, as well as the cities of Bedford and Lynchburg. Since it opened in 1987, this health center has served over 25,000 unduplicated individuals. In calendar year 2012 alone, FCCV provided services during 22,000 patient visits of various kinds for over 5,000 unduplicated clients.

The fastest growing service area is Huddleston. Since FCCV has a state-of-the-art dental clinic, low income people from the lake area are referred to FCCV for care. Dental students from Virginia Commonwealth University stay at Virginia Baptist Hospital dormitories on two-week rotations. They care for clients under the supervision of an experienced dentist, so that more patients can be helped.

FCCV will still be needed even after the Affordable Care Act is fully phased in, according to Executive Director Bob Barlow.

"Affordable Care has been passed to serve people at 135 percent of the poverty level or lower. We currently serve people at 200 percent of the poverty level or lower," he explained. "People are going to be able to exempt out if they can demonstrate that paying the small premiums that the Affordable Care Act will ask of them will burden them as far as putting food on their table or paying rent."

Barlow expects that this population will still need FCCV and notes that the Affordable Care Act does not cover everything normally thought of as covered by insurance. What it does not cover -- including dental care -- makes up a significant part of the services FCCV provides.

The FCCV staff has worked tirelessly with the community to maximize services to the population they serve. One example is lab work. FCCV volunteers draw blood, and Central runs the tests free of charge. The lineup of chairs outside the lab attests to the large volume of tests conducted and the substantial savings.

Physical therapy patients are referred to rehabilitation associates. Patients who need this type of care may also be seen by students in Lynchburg College's physical therapy program.

Without FCCV's financial support, most of its clients would be unable to fill their prescriptions, a major issue for both the patients and those striving to improve their health. FCCV filled 37,000 prescriptions in 2012 at a value of $3.5 million, but a three-pronged approach kept the clinic's total out-of-pocket expense to just $14,000.

One portion of the medications comes from doctor office donations. Another large portion is received through a program called Rxpartnership where FCCV only pays for shipping. Clinic volunteers also help complete patient-assistance applications that are submitted to drug companies for help in reducing the cost of medications used to treat chronic conditions.

Because FCCV understands the importance of prevention and patient compliance, numerous educational workshops and support groups on nutrition, diabetes, breast cancer and smoking cessation are held. A mobile mammogram machine comes to the clinic six times a year.

The funds received from participating in the SML Charity Home Tour will go into the general operating fund. Other sources of income include a golf tournament, hosted by the National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors, a loft tour in Lynchburg, a Hillcats Skybox night and an annual fundraising campaign.

(Editor's note: This is the second in a series of the eight charities that are funded by the annual Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour.)

 
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