|With new space, the center could see over 5,000 patients each year|
The Free Clinic of Franklin County plans to become a Rural Health Clinic under the name Bernard Healthcare Center, named after Jeanne Bernard, who opened the private non-profit clinic in 1992. Above, Bernard is shown in one of the seven treatment rooms at the new clinic.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer
The Free Clinic of Franklin County has moved into its new facility.
Construction is complete on the 7,100-square-foot building at the Schewel's Plaza shopping center in Rocky Mount.
Alice Culbertson, clinic director, said the process is under way to complete the move from its previous site on South Main Street.
"F&S and Mod-U-Kraf did a great job getting the building ready (for occupancy)," she said. "Come on by."
The new facility includes a large waiting area and expanded reception office. To serve its patients, the facility is equipped with a triage area, seven treatment rooms, two larger exam rooms, a dental office, six bathroom areas and an attic for extra storage space.
Staff members have new offices and the building boasts a large "multi-use" room that will be used for staff breaks and future community education classes.
"We are currently looking for art and other donated items to hang on the walls," Culbertson said.
Construction on the new medical office building began in November. The facility was made possible by a designated gift from the late philanthropist Guy Beatty and his wife, Betty, of Northern Virginia, and a donation of the site by Mark Schewel and Donna Clark of Schewel's Furniture in Lynchburg.
The late Gus Beatty's interest in Franklin County stemmed from his family ties to this area, dating back to the Continental Congress and his long-time friendship with Dr. Jennifer Braaten, president of Ferrum College.
By mid-2014, the clinic plans to become a Rural Health Clinic under the name Bernard Healthcare Center, named after Jeanne Bernard, who opened the private non-profit clinic in 1992.
Three years ago, the clinic obtained a VHCF grant to hire a full-time mid-level provider, increasing the number of patient visits from 800 per year to over 2,200 a year. The rural health expansion will allow the clinic to see Medicaid and Medicare patients, and eventually accept private insurance.
The free clinic program will remain intact for very low-income uninsured people who do not qualify for insurance under health care reform.
With additional space in the new building, the center could accommodate over 5,000 patient visits each year.
The Free Clinic receives no federal funds. Through partnerships with the Virginia Association of Free & Charitable Clinics, Rx Partnership Foundation, Virginia Health Care Foundation, United Way and Carilion, as well as the generosity of private donors, the Free Clinic is able to offer quality health care at a sharply reduced cost.
"Our clinic relies heavily on volunteer physicians and community donations to provide health care and medications to the needy in Franklin County," said Culbertson. "Fundraising will continue to be a priority next year. In addition to acute care, the clinic strives to consistently treat chronic illnesses, screen to prevent disease, and encourage healthy lifestyles to create a better community."