AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — After 27 years, and serving around 10,000 patients in the Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro areas, Augusta Regional Clinic is closing its medical clinic permanently on July 1.
Augusta Regional Clinic Medical Clinic. | Credit: WHSV
"When our clinic first started about 27 years ago, our mission at that point was to help the low income or uninsured person who didn't have access to health care," Janice Morgan, the Executive Director of Augusta Regional Clinic said. "Part of our mission or purpose had been to work themselves out of a job, and we've done that now with the medical side."
Augusta Regional Clinic used to be one of the few places people could get medical care without insurance, but now, with the expansion of Medicaid, more places are offering free or low-cost medical care.
"When Medicaid expanded, that took about half of our patient base," Morgan said.
That patient base continued to gradually fall. Augusta Regional Clinic said they were seeing, on average, around 1,400 patients a year.
"And the last couple of years, it was 900 and now it's gone down from that," Morgan said.
The coronavirus pandemic was the final blow that guided the decision to close permanently.
"In fact, we have not seen any patients here in the medical clinic since probably the middle of March," Morgan said.
Morgan said the clinic has mainly been conducting telehealth services for its patients.
The clinic is now in the process of calling its 143 patients that need to be transferred to another medical care provider, and Morgan said it's been difficult to say good-bye, but everyone has been understanding.
"It's been going well. We've had a few people cry, both ends of the conversation, but we're getting through it," Morgan said. 'We give it our all to try to help them as much as we can, and they're all so grateful for what we can do. We get Christmas cards, people bring us little things to snack things to eat all the time. It's like a big family.
Now with the medical clinic closing, Morgan said they are able to continue carrying out their mission by placing their focus on their dental clinic.
"There are just not a lot of places in Augusta County for Medicaid dental people to go, so we're still doing our mission, we've just focused on a different population of people," Morgan said.
The dental clinic has kept them busy, even through the pandemic with emergency appointments, and now with the phase one re-openings, Morgan thinks it will continue to grow.
"We're already scheduling way out for several months. If we could find the money, we would be hiring another dentist right now," Morgan said.
Augusta Regional Clinic will continue serving their current patients until July 1.