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.