February 21, 2020

Gloucester Mathews Care Clinic

Wayne J. Reynolds, DO,
Sentara Family Physicians Gloucester

 

For more than two decades, the Gloucester Mathews Care Clinic has helped hundreds of people a year manage medical problems that they otherwise couldn’t afford to treat.  

The Care Clinic and its on-site pharmacy have kept countless uninsured patients, most of them working poor, out of emergency rooms and urgent care centers. A group of dedicated primary care providers, specialists and support staff offer acute and chronic care, mental health services, prescription medications, referrals and patient education.  

“As a rural area, we have a lot of small employers who are very productive in the community but simply can’t afford to provide health coverage,” notes Dr. Wayne J. Reynolds, a family physician and the clinic’s Medical Director. “There’s a sizable group of people who fall through cracks in the system, who likely would only seek care once they had a major problem.”  

The Clinic is open to uninsured adults in Gloucester and Mathews counties who meet income criteria and are employed or actively seeking a job. It has grown dramatically since its 1998 founding by a group of concerned parishioners from Abingdon Episcopal Church.  

In its first year, the program served 100 patients out of a 1,100-square-foot building; by 2014, it had relocated to a 9,000-square-foot space on Industrial Drive in Gloucester. In 2018, staff saw 903 patients through 4,755 medical and dental visits, while filling 22,472 prescriptions.  

Nearly 30 medical professionals volunteer alongside a paid part-time doctor and nurse practitioner. Altogether, they donated 13,076 hours of work in 2018 and, with pharmaceuticals factored in, $11 million-plus in healthcare services. Dr. Reynolds, who has practiced in Gloucester since 1995, has served as Medical Director since 2003.  

Specialty care includes endocrinology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, podiatry, psychiatry and rheumatology. Chronic illnesses that need continuous attention, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia, are common.  

Along with regular monitoring and medications, medical staff emphasize patient education, as well as gently correcting harmful misconceptions. For example, people often think high blood pressure causes obvious symptoms, or that exercise habits aren’t connected to diabetes control. Medication compliance is another problem.  

“As people start to feel better, they think they can skip the medication,” Dr. Reynolds explains. “Or, even worse, they think they can share with someone else in their same predicament – lacking insurance – to try to help them out.”  

While originally founded as a church outreach project, the Gloucester Mathews Care Clinic is non-denominational and currently funded through grants and individual contributions. Appointments are available most weekdays, with some evening options for urgent situations. Staff also can arrange transportation in certain circumstances.  

To reach even more individuals in need, the clinic recently raised its patient eligibility threshold to 300 percent of the 2019 Federal Poverty Level, or $37,470 for an individual and $77,250 for a family of four. It also has implemented an Electronic Medical Record system and streamlined screening and referral processes to reduce waiting times for appointments.  

The biggest ongoing change, though, is a transition to accept Medicaid-enrolled patients, following Virginia’s decision to expand those benefits.  

“We want to be able to continue to serve some of those patients who newly qualify for Medicaid, but who want to stay with our clinic because of the relationships they’ve formed,” Dr. Reynolds relates. “We’re proud of those deep connections.”  

The effort is all part of a drive to increase awareness that quality community-based care is accessible for people struggling with healthcare costs.  

“We’ve been in our community for 21 years, but unfortunately we’re still somewhat of a best-kept secret,” Reynolds says. “We really encourage more potential patients to reach out to us.”

 

For more information or to schedule an eligibility appointment, visit gmcareclinic.com or call (804) 210-1368.   

The Arthritis Foundation, Hampton Roads Chapter

Nicolai B. Baecher, MD,
Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center, Inc. (SMOC)

 

Arthritis is astonishingly common: one in every four Americans will suffer from a form of joint inflammation, pain and stiffness, sometimes beginning in early childhood. In the military community, that percentage rises to one in three people. 

The Arthritis Foundation’s local chapter is a vital advocacy and educational group for Hampton Roads families. Its work includes connecting patients to information and community resources, organizing fundraising events, lobbying for legislation to benefit patients, hosting support groups, and sending children with arthritis to special summer camps. 

“The Foundation is critical to research funding, which has aided in the treatment options that I am able to offer to my patients,” says Dr. Nicolai Baecher, an Orthopaedic Hand & Upper Extremity Surgeon with SMOC. “Supporting it is one way I can ensure research and more opportunities for treatment continue – and that one day a cure will arise.”  

As a regular supporter of the nonprofit, Dr. Baecher was this year’s Orthopaedic Medical Honoree for its annual Jingle Bell Run; SMOC was the event’s presenting sponsor and entered its “Jingle Joggers” team. “I am very proud to help raise money for such a good cause,” he says.

In its many varieties, arthritis effects more than 52 million Americans and is the leading cause of disability for adults. In Virginia alone, 1.6 million people struggle with the chronic disease, including 7,200 kids. 

While there is still no cure, new treatments and surgical techniques can make a dramatic difference in patients’ lives. The Arthritis Foundation has invested half a billion dollars in research to date, leading to the first biologics for a number of disease types.  

“Arthritis is everywhere, and it impacts entire families,” notes Kimberly Twine, Development Manager for the Arthritis Foundation’s Virginia Beach office. “Our mission is bold. We fight to cure arthritis, and our local programs provide personalized help for patients.”  

One current effort is tailor-made for the Hampton Roads community. The Foundation is leading a national push for additional Department of Defense funding to investigate a higher incidence of arthritis in active duty service members and veterans. For example, osteoarthritis rates are 26 percent higher in the under-20 age group as compared to the general population. 

Factors such as carrying heavy equipment, undergoing rigorous training and experiencing combat injuries – including shock waves from bomb blasts – may contribute to early joint damage. Furthermore, post-traumatic osteoarthritis can be severely debilitating. 

After years of focusing more on rheumatoid arthritis, the Foundation also has pivoted to concentrate on osteoarthritis, which accounts for more than 25 percent of all arthritis-related health care visits. “We are hoping and expecting to see major developments in new therapies for osteoarthritis, as has happened with rheumatoid arthritis,” Twine says. 

To raise money for its work, the local chapter hosts the Jingle Bell Run each November, also an opportunity to educate families on preventive measures such as regular exercise, a healthy diet with anti-inflammatory foods, necessary weight loss and proper footwear. 

Other annual events include several walks, family days with kids’ activities, and the popular Beef, Bourbon and Blues festival in February with dinner, dessert, drinks, live music and an auction. Juvenile Arthritis summer camps held in Charlottesville allow kids and teens to connect, learn to manage their disease and try fun new activities.   

Additionally, the Hampton Roads office recently launched a patient support group in Chesapeake, the first step toward its goal of running groups in each of the region’s seven cities.  

“Arthritis places a huge physical, emotional and financial burden on families,” Twine says. “We are happy to be here to help lift some of those away.”

For more information, visit arthritis.org/virginia.