The Eastern Greenbrier Health Center has reopened, welcoming community patients, giving free sports physicals to students, and offering affordable healthcare to the Greenbrier Valley.
The Health Center has been seeing students for over 12 years. Now this service is expanding to the general public, with assistance from the Rainelle Medical Center.
“We’re here to promote and improve the overall health of our community and students,” explained Terra Skaggs, Director of School-Based Health for the Rainelle Medical Center. “We revamped and remodeled the inside a little bit so we could maximize our space. Now we can see more patients.”
The facility held a ribbon cutting on Wednesday, August 25, with several local representatives, the Chamber of Commerce, and members of the school system coming out to celebrate.
“I’m just happy that you’re here,” said Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White. “The community has another resource for access to healthcare and that’s so important to our community.”
Inside the building, which deceptively looks tiny from the outside, there’s space for three different rooms to see patients, a break room, a lockable lobby, break room, and offices, each of which have just been or are about to be freshly renovated.
The remodeling and relaunch’s goal is to show that the facility is not only for students and staff of Greenbrier County Schools. The general public is also welcome.
“We can see the whole family,” Skaggs said. “We do everything here, whether you need your A1C checked, if you feel like you need your kidneys checked, if your throat is swollen, chronic care management, no matter what it is. In addition to [Brittney Parker], we have Dr. Jennifer Brown, she’s here on Tuesdays, so we have two medical providers.”
There on a day-to-day basis is Parker, the nurse practitioner who can write scripts, treat patients, and is currently working on a doctoral program that will allow her to provide more services. Parker also cut the ribbon during the grand reopening.
“It’s a great feeling – I really love school-based health,” Parker said. “It’s my passion. … I grew up in Greenbrier County. I worked as a nurse for a little while, a pediatric nurse, then I went back to practitioners school.”
|The ribbon cutting saw (l to r) Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ashley Vickers, Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin, Director of Marketing & Human Resources at Rainelle Medical Center Lisa Redden, Terra Skaggs, family nurse practitioner Brittany Parker (cutting the ribbon), LPN Emily Callison, GEHS Principal Ben Routson, staff member Mary Tincher, Superintendent of Schools Jeff Bryant, Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White, and Head School Nurse Paula McCoy.|
In addition to seeing the public now, the facility will also have longer hours.
“We’ve been here for 12 years for school-based health,” Skaggs said. “That started out one day a week and moved up to two days a week, just during the school day. The pandemic really opened our eyes to see that medical care is really needed full time here. They need full-time access to care for injury and illness. We decided to … revamp it and that way we can be here full time. We are here now Monday through Thursday from 8 to 6 p.m.”
This also includes patients who are less able to afford basic access to healthcare.
“Anybody that has lost access to care … or they don’t have insurance or they don’t have great insurance, we’re here to serve everybody equally,” Skaggs said. “Whether you have great insurance or are uninsured, we treat everybody the same. [We can give care based] on a sliding fee scale. That’s what differentiates private practice from a federally qualified health center. We sign a contract with a government that says we’re going to treat everyone equally. They help us offset that expense, though not fully because we do offer lower prices anyway. It’s a misconception you’re not getting quality care – it’s just the opposite.”
Soon the facility is expecting two multicolored signs, one to face Eastern Greenbrier Middle School and another to face Greenbrier East High School with their own colors. Thanks to it’s location between the two, students who receive care through the facility don’t have to miss as much class.
“You can come and have a doctor’s visit during the school day and still, at the end of the school year, have perfect attendance,” Skaggs explained. “It reduces the loss of instruction time, it increases access to care. … An appointment with us is 30 minutes. If a parent picks them up, they’re missing their personal time, they’re missing half a day of work, a lot of times students don’t return to school after an appointment or they’re gone half the day and they have an absence. … Even teachers. They wouldn’t have to miss work. During their planning period, during lunch, they could pop over. We could keep teachers in the classroom, we could keep students in the classroom.”
Parents that would like to take advantage of this, and the free sports physicals offered by the staff, just need to fill out a care form. This form allows the parents to decide the level of care the practitioners can give without additional parental consent.
“Our parents can fill out the health consent and select their student’s level of care,” Skaggs said. “If they have a primary care provider or a pediatrician and receive their healthcare elsewhere, that’s perfectly fine. What we can do is provide for injury or illness or COVID tests. Whatever they select, that’s the level of care we’ll provide for them.”
With the grand opening done, Parker and the rest of the team look forward to seeing patients.
“Our school system is blessed to have them here, not only here, but in other locations in our county,” said Superintendent of Schools Jeff Bryant.