Augusta Regional Clinic to Close Medical Clinic, Dental Clinic Remains Open
After 27 years of serving approximately 10,000 individual adult patients in the Staunton, Augusta and Waynesboro area, the Augusta Regional Clinic (ARC) is no longer experiencing the need for its primary care services, and has decided to close the Medical Clinic on July 1, 2020. ARC will now concentrate its resources and efforts on the crucial need for dental care by growing its Dental Clinic. In making the decision to close the Medical Clinic, ARC’s Board of Directors emphasized its commitment to providing health care services to those residents of our community who cannot otherwise afford access to care and to assisting if unmet medical needs are identified in the future.
The ARC’s ultimate vision for access to primary care has been met. When the Medical Clinic opened in 1993 at what was then Valley Vocational-Technical Center, there was almost no access to affordable primary care and prescription medications for the uninsured members of the community. Patient numbers grew steadily to the highest average of 1,450 a year from 2009-2012, but when the Commonwealth of Virginia expanded Medicaid in January 2019, the ARC’s primary care patient population became significantly reduced. The ARC staff is in the process now of connecting the remaining patients with a suitable medical home. Many of these patients have already been connected with an alternate resource for their prescription medications.
“We live in an area of the state where medical providers accept Medicaid insurance. Additionally, Federally Qualified Health Centers, which accept Medicaid and offer a sliding-fee scale, now exist in Harrisonburg and Lexington. They are especially convenient to Augusta County residents who live in the northern and southern parts of the county,” says Pamela J. Davies, the ARC’s first Executive Director and current Board Chair.
Patients can also connect to Augusta Health by contacting the Augusta Health Call Center at 833-AHC-HLTH for more information.
The Dental Clinic accepts Medicaid reimbursement, in addition to offering low-cost services for adults and children. In 2019, the Dental Clinic saw a 30% increase in its services from the previous year. It now receives more calls for help than the current capacity can meet. The dedicated staff currently consists of two dental hygienists, one full-time dentist, one part-time dentist, and two dentists who add about five days a month. ARC will need to increase its dental capacity by 2021, to even meet the current requests. Urgent care was provided during the COVID-19 restrictions on routine care, and regular appointments have now been resumed, following CDC guidelines. Patients may call (540) 221-6635 to schedule an appointment.
“As we develop the Dental Clinic’s resources to increase access for both children and adults, there are two things that must be done,” says Davies. “1) to keep our dedicated staff safe by maintaining our supply of personal protective equipment (PPE); and 2) to retire the remaining $14,000 balance on a loan taken to buy sophisticated dental equipment.”
The Dental Clinic also operates the ORCAS (Outreach, Resources, Care and Prevention, Assessments and Sealants) Program, which travels to elementary schools to provide dental care to students. “If the schools do not open in the fall, the dental staff will undoubtedly develop a creative plan to still see these children, as so many have serious dental disease,” says Davies. “We also must broaden the dental education of the students, their parents and others in the community.”
The ARC is a (501)(c)3 non-profit organization which relies on the generous support of the community for its operation. Donations may be sent to Augusta Regional Clinic, P.O. Box 153, Fishersville, VA 22939. The physical address is 342 Mule Academy Road, Fishersville, VA 22939.