RCHC partnership with Blue Ridge begins
A partnership which began more than three years ago has come to fruition as the Rutherford Community Health Center (RCHC) completed its transition to be under the umbrella of Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS).
The partnership became official after close of business Friday.
“We’re up and running and pretty excited about it,” said Milton Butterworth, director of community engagement for BRCHS.
The new facility, Rutherford Health Center (RHC) is located at 187 South Main Street in Spindale and upgrades were made possible by $850,000 received by BRCHS through the Affordable Care Act. The center moved from being an independently-run operation to being operated by BRCHS.
The new center includes expanded medical and behavioral health services, a discount pharmacy and plans to add dental services by the end of the year.
He said RHC will be able to draw from the BRCHS main campus in Hendersonville for additional health services.
“We are able to add psychiatry to the mix and we are working with the county and others to ensure the safety net is as strong as it can be,” Butterworth said.
A large component to the partnership is moving RHC from a “look-alike” health center to a Federally Qualified Health Center, eligible for additional federal money.
“I think the main piece is Rutherford Community Health Center was a ‘look-alike’ health center and it was not afforded the funding,” Butterworth said. “Now, we have sustainability and a long-term approach.”
The transition included some staff changes. Now, former RCHC Executive Director Sandra McGriff has been retained as Community Engagement Director for RHC.
“It is a perfect fit for her and it is a big part of why this change has been so successful in Rutherford County,” Butterworth said.
Misty Nelson is now the operational director and Dr. Donna McGee is the medical director at RHC. Butterworth said RHC will have four medical providers, two licensed behavioral health counselors and clinical support personnel. He said the services will be focused on residents of Rutherford County but the center will be open to residents in neighboring counties.
Medicare and Medicaid as well as other major insurances will continue to be accepted. RHC will also offer services to those uninsured on a sliding fee schedule.
Beginning April 1, medications will be offered at a discount to RHC patients through the BRHCS 340B pharmacy program and will be housed at Spindale Drug.
Additional changes at RHC include upgrades to information technology and medical equipment.
“We are making some investments in infrastructure and that transition, as it is with any organization, is a challenge,” Butterworth said. “We are committed to a paperless organization.”
The intent is to have digital medical records “follow” patients to other medical facilities.
“Once more and more medical facilities adopt digital medical records, it makes it easier for patients to have their medical records go with them,” Butterworth said. “But, it is not as easy as it might sound and it is definitely in our mission and we will continue to work on that for the future.”
RHC is open five days a week. To schedule an appointment, call 828-288-2881. Walk-in patients are also accepted daily for both medical and behavioral health care.
On the web:
Blue Ridge Community Health Services:http://www.brchs.com