December 4, 2023
For more than thirty years, Rockbridge Area Health Center has been a steadfast beacon of care in our community. Our mission to provide access to comprehensive, high quality, affordable care has been our guiding light.
But now more than ever, we recognize the imperative to extend our reach beyond traditional health care settings. Ensuring access to vital services means meeting our community members where they are, be it through mobile clinics, community outreach programs, or innovative partnerships.
In 2023, we’ve redoubled our commitment to access. This spring, we put two new mobile units on the road, one dedicated to medical services and the other to dental care, both fully equipped to serve clients at a rotating schedule of locations in Rockbridge County.
And this fall, we’ve begun an exciting new program inside Rockbridge County schools. Our new School-Based Health Center program (SBHC) leverages a proven method for providing consistent and accessible health care to youth.
We’ve started our school-based program with on-site mental health care services at Rockbridge County High School and Maury River Middle School. In collaboration with school nurses and parents, our providers are equipped to assess students dealing with mental or emotional challenges and to offer them treatment. The program serves teachers, staff, and administrators as well. Although it’s still early days, the service is proving to be a popular and much-appreciated resource.
No wonder, really. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in September indicates that school-based health centers have strong potential to lower barriers to care and reduce income-based disparities in health. SBHCs can reduce hospitalizations, decrease absenteeism, increase parental engagement, and set the path for longer, healthier lives. As we grow our SBHC program to include more types services in more places, we expect to see the same positive effects in our community.
We know that such school-based services are cost-effective. But they are not cost-free. RAHC expects to spend upwards of $350,000 in the first year to establish this new program. In addition, the annual cost of operations for the program in following years is likely to approach that amount.
Grant funding for such ambitious endeavors can only take us so far. To create and sustain the robust offerings we envision, we need community support. We need people like you.
So, this giving season, won’t you please consider making a gift to RAHC? If you share our vision of more access to health care in more places—particularly in the places that serve our youth—we hope you’ll give generously.
Lastly, I’d be happy to talk with you about school-based health centers—or any of our growing roster of accessibility efforts—and the benefits they bring to our community. Please feel free to reach out to me any time.
Suzanne Sheridan, CEO
Rockbridge Area Health Center
(540) 464-8700 ext. 7111