Cone Health Steps In to Re-Open Clara F. Gunn Center,
Serve the Physical and Financial Needs of the Community
In the six months since Cone Health opened the Community Care Clara F. Gunn Center, lives have begun to change,
Once a three-bedroom housing unit at the New Reidsville Housing Authority, Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine transformed the space at 922 Third Ave., Reidsville, and opened it as a medical center in 2014.
When Cone Health learned that TAPM planned to close up shop come June 15, 2017, officials took action to assure that the center’s patients would not be left hanging.
The center re-opened under Cone Health on Aug. 21 and began help the community by not just offering medical services, but also helping people find the life resources they need.
“For a lot of our patients, it’s not just about medicine and medical care, but they really need help with knowing where can they get food or housing or where are places that are hiring and things like that,” said Cone Health Director of Healthy Communities Kathy Colville.
Colville describes the center as broader than a doctor’s office and not entirely intended for the same purpose. Still, the center does provide medical services specifically for adults over 18 who may not otherwise have access to services.
“For people who don't have a doctor and they just really need help figuring out where to go for care in this community, this is a really good sort of first stop or a portal into that,” Colville said. “It isn't intended to replace anybody's primary care provider, but it is intended to help people who don’t have a primary care provider or who can't afford or have those financial barriers to get back into care and to navigate the system.
The center serves those who may be worried about high medical costs at a doctor’s office and those who have forgotten how to get into the medical system.
“There’s a lot of people who haven’t been to a doctor in years, but they'd probably really benefit from having a doctor who's monitoring things like their diabetes or their high blood pressure to help prevent heart attack, stroke, any of those other really, really, really tough things,” Colville said.
If someone is in need of further medical care, the center can try to connect them with free or low-cost services at nearby facilities.
Annie Penn Hospital’s congregational nurse program People Engaged in Neighborhood Nursing, also known as PENN, provide care at the center.
“When you go to Clara Gunn, you'll meet with an LPN, a Licensed Practical Nurse, who's bilingual,” Colville said. “You'll meet with a registered nurse, Trish Gilley, who's been in our community for a very, very long time.”
She added that the folks at the center understand that sometimes care can be as much about helping someone find the food pantry as it is about access to medicine. “Wonderfully, these are folks that can help with both of those types of things,” Colville said.
When someone visits Clara Gunn, a staff member will do an overall assessment to understand a visitor’s reasons for coming that day, find out what complaints or concerns they might have and may ask if they have access to food and housing.
“For certain conditions, she'll actually initiate a video visit to be able to get on the line with a physician,” Colville said. “… Let’s say for example that you're somebody who does have (high) blood pressure and you could benefit from a medication. They'll help get that prescription started. They can help with some temporary medication assistance that Carolina Apothecary has helped us with, so if you can’t afford your medication, they can help you sort of get that started.”
Since August of 2017, the center has already begun to make an impact in the Reidsville community.
“We have been excited to see the number of people who have come in who have had some pretty serious health concerns and didn't know where else to turn and what Trish and Blanca (Rangel) are able to provide is a really remarkable,” Colville said. “It’s not 15-minutes 'talking with the doctor real quick.' It’s really getting to know those patients and getting them into the right place.”
The Clara F. Gunn Center also offers blood pressure checks, heart rate checks, blood sugar checks, urine analysis, rapid strep tests, pregnancy tests and health education and referrals. For more information about the center or to make an appointment, visit www.conehealth.com/locations/profile/clara-gunn-center/ or call 336-951-4314.
** This article republished with permission from Rockingham Now.
“For people who don't have a doctor and they just really need help figuring out where to go for care in this community, this is a really good sort of first stop or a portal into that,”