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10 years young!

By LANCE JENKINS

AHOSKIE – This month, the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center (RCCHC) celebrates ten years of providing health care to the Roanoke-Chowan region.

RCCHC launched as a not-for-profit organization in 2005 and since then has expanded to primary care locations in Ahoskie, Colerain, Murfreesboro, and a school-based health center on the campus of Hertford County Middle School.

To celebrate the occasion, RCCHC will host a celebration at each location during the month of May.

Kim Schwartz, who has served as chief executive officer (CEO) at RCCHC since June 2005, reflected on how the national push for community health centers has ultimately led to ten years of success for RCCHC in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

“Fifty years ago, Congress created the health centers program in response to the needs of Americans living in medically underserved areas needing basic primary health care,” said Schwartz. “Ten years ago, the Roanoke Chowan communities came together to make the commitment to not only providing basic access to out-patient services but, to do so by offering the very best health care to all  regardless of income, social status, religion, race and governed by the community and patients. By focusing our efforts on how to stay well as getting folks in quickly when they are sick we have been able to improve the overall health status of the region. RCCHC’s team and Board of Directors made a decision ten years ago to be innovative, creative and to seek out partners to meet our mission to provide patient centered, high quality, compassionate healthcare responsive to the diverse needs of the people we serve.”

RCCHC has undeniably achieved much success in the past ten years. The new, state-of-the-art Ahoskie Comprehensive Care center was built during RCCHC’s first decade of success, and both Murfreesboro Primary Care and Colerain Primary Care have served as beneficiaries for significant building and quality improvements during that period. In addition, an in-house pharmacy was launched in 2014 at Ahoskie Comprehensive Care. The migrant seasonal farm worker program was inaugurated to further provide medical care for all members of the community. RCCHC Pediatrics began providing affordable care for children in the Roanoke-Chowan area, and the center received national recognition for developing an innovative telehealth program that focuses on monitoring and improving the lives of diabetes and cardiovascular disease patients.

Among its successes in health care, RCCHC has also played an integral role in the economic engine of the community by providing over 130 full time jobs with a commitment to prioritizing local partnerships such as our 340B contract pharmacies, including Mizelles, Drugco, Colonial and Todd’s.

Dr. Colin Jones, who has served as a provider for the Roanoke-Chowan region for decades, is proud of the benefits RCCHC has created for citizens of the area. “RCCHC has allowed me to continue to provide the high quality care I learned from Dr.’s Darden, Sawyer and Taylor as part of Ahoskie family physicians in the seventies and eighties,” he said. “As an FQHC we can augment that care with affordable medicine through 340B program and support the practice financially with grant funds for uninsured folks that Ahoskie Family Practitioners (AFP) cared for at a loss. With that assistance we can now offer medical insurance and other benefits to all our employees.

“We’re also able to provide mental health counseling in the office, and assist getting Medicaid or ACA insurance coverage, reach out to migrant workers. These are things in the past we had to hope patients would get done at outside locations. We often now can get those services right while the patient is in the office for their medical visit. RCCHC is a delightful addition to the overall health of our area,” Jones added.

The Board of Directors, the governing body comprised of community volunteers committed to bettering the quality of health care in the region, is especially pleased with the commitment from staff to further the mission of community health centers at RCCHC.

“The Board of Directors congratulates RCCHC for ten years of dedicated service to our communities,” said Viola Vaughan-Holland, Board Chair at RCCHC. “We appreciate the triple qualities of: improving the health of the community, improving the patient experience, and bending the cost curve. Much success and happiness in our future endeavors.”

Sue Lassiter, President of Vidant Roanoke Chowan Hospital who was heavily involved in the planning of what would become RCCHC, praised the community health center for its efforts to establish a strong foundation of quality health care in the last ten years.

“We are so proud of RCCHC and all of its accomplishments,” she said. “More than ten years ago, it was our vision to create a model for primary care in the Roanoke-Chowan area that would improve access to care, assure that patients could afford their prescription medications, as well as increase behavioral health and dental services for those in need. Our long-term goal was to improve health outcomes for patients in our community and for RCCHC to be a financially viable organization. The center has provided a solid foundation for success achieving and exceeding all of these goals to create a sustainable model for the future.”

RCCHC invites everyone in the community to celebrate the milestone birthday and join RCCHC for birthday cake and refreshments at Colerain Primary Care at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26; Ahoskie Comprehensive Care at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27; and Murfreesboro Primary Care at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 28.

For more information about RCCHC, call the Corporate Office at (252) 209-0237, or visit RCCHC on the web at rcchc.org or on Facebook and Twitter.