The Community Health Center of the New River Valley has been awarded $1.9 million in federal funds to continue offering low-cost medical, dental and behavioral health services.
Formerly known as the Free Clinic of the New River Valley, the nonprofit health center was deemed a community medical provider by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2014.
Today it serves about 4,000 patients at locations in Christiansburg, Pearisburg and Dublin, said Ashley Slagel-Perry, behavioral health program manager.
The grant “essentially allows us to keep doing what we’re doing,” Slagel-Perry said.
The clinic must reapply for the funding at least every three years, and sometimes once a year, she added. The center must meet a number of federal benchmarks to qualify for funding, and renewals are not guaranteed.
The grant is administered through the federal Health Resources and Services Administration Health Center Cluster Program, according to a joint announcement from the offices of Virginia’s U.S. senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.
More than 27 million people across the country rely on HRSA-funded health centers for affordable primary health care, the release stated.
Before becoming a federally qualified health center, the NRV clinic, founded in 1980, was limited to serving adults and uninsured patients through a volunteer provider network, Slagel-Perry said.
Since its transition, Slagel-Perry said the center employs a paid staff of 57 people, as well as four volunteer providers, who serve adults and children covered by public and private health insurance. Discounted care is offered to uninsured patients based on their incomes.
In 2017, the health center reported $4.6 million in total revenues, including $3.5 million in grants and donations and $1 million in program service revenues, according to tax records. That year the center reported $3.8 million in expenses.
“We just want to serve our community,” Slagel-Perry said. If someone comes to the center and can’t pay, “we’re going to figure it out, which is really what this federal money allows us to do.”