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

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Children’s Clinic in Rocky Mount in danger of closing
Local pediatrician retiring, moving to Phillipines
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Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston: After 21 years of serving Franklin County children and their families, Dr. Rene Vamenta with the Children’s Clinic in Rocky Mount has announced his retirement.

Friday, August 22, 2014

By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer

For 21 years, the Children's Clinic in Rocky Mount has been the primary location for children in Franklin County to receive pediatric care.

But clinic owner, Dr. Rene Vamenta, has announced his retirement.

"It is with a sad heart that I am announcing my retirement from my pediatric practice on Sept. 30," said Vamenta.

The Children's Clinic first opened its doors in September 1993 at a location on Franklin Street.

In 1999, Dr. Michole Pineda joined Vamenta at the clinic, where she remained until 2005.

Dr. Vydia Permashwar filled that void in 2006 and made the move with Vamenta to the clinic's current location on South Main Street. Permashwar left the practice in 2010.

Dr. Alise Magnuson joined the clinic soon after, but left the practice last month.

Currently, Vamenta is the only doctor on staff at the clinic besides Physicians Assistant Angela Bowman, who is also seeing patients.

"There's been a shortage of pediatricians," said Vamenta. "A lot of doctors prefer the stability of primary care and they prefer the more stable employment of working with a group."

The Children's Clinic has over 3,000 active patients and sees around 50 patients a day.

"On a sick day, we have seen up to 90 patients in a day," said Sheila Cuff, a staff member at the clinic. "We've had to turn some patients away due to not having room on the schedule to fit them in."

Cuff said she is also concerned about the new babies who will need pediatric care.

"The Children's Clinic has been wonderful with my children," said Loretta Brown, the mother of five children who frequent the clinic. Two of those children have special needs and do not adjust very well to change, Brown said.

"The continued operation of a pediatric facility is of great need here in Franklin County," she added.

Right now, the staff of the clinic say they are having trouble finding another pediatrician to fill Vamenta's vacancy.

Transportation is also a concern for staff members.

"Parents have enough trouble getting their children to the clinic as it is with the transportation problem the county has," said Cuff. "We're not sure how they will be able to get their children to a pediatrician outside the county."

Staff members are also concerned that parents will resort to taking their children to the already-crowded emergency room at Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital (CFMH), Cuff said.

"I am discouraging our parents from taking their children to the emergency room unless there is an actual emergency," said Vamenta.

"We are aware of Children's Clinic's announcement that they are closing, and we are concerned about the impact this will have on patients and our community," said Bill Jacobsen, CEO of CFMH. "In the short term, we will do what we can to accommodate additional patients in our family practice, and we are discussing other possible options."

Jacobsen said a long-term solution would take some time to develop. "We understand the community need and are committed to helping find a sustainable solution," he added.

"I have been blessed and honored to serve the children of Franklin County and its neighboring counties, and I will always treasure the sweet memories I have shared with my patients and their families," said Vamenta, who is returning to the Philippines, his home country, to embark on a medical mission there.

"I hope to be a part of the solution to the problems my country is having," he said. "It is a cause that is dear to my heart and it is something I feel I have to do. I sincerely thank my hardworking and compassionate staff. They are my pillars, my partners and my extended family."

"I pray that future pediatricians will continue what I have started here in Franklin County so that these children need not travel far to avail of much-needed pediatric care," he added.

Until Sept. 30, clinic patrons may still call the office at (540) 483-2849 and fax all requests for medical transfers to (540) 483-2826 or (877) 837-7050.

After Sept. 30, phone calls can be made to (540) 375-4664.

 
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