Last updated: May 31. 2013 10:46PM - 649 Views
Tom Joyce
Heartland Publications

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If someone gets sick in Cana, it often means a trip to Mount Airy or Hillsville for treatment, since the small community has no medical clinic of its own.

That will change in July, when Everhart Primary Health Care opens at 1236 Bear Trail here, about one mile off U.S. 52.

And it won’t be just any medical clinic, but a non-profit operation that will differ from what most patients are accustomed to, according to the mother-daughter team who will operate the facility.

For one thing, the waiting room will feature a fireplace, and patients who prefer to be outside also will have the option of sitting on a porch until their name is called.

“If you look at it, it actually looks like a house,” Carole Everhart said of the clinic that she and a fellow nurse practitioner, her mother Dee Everhart, will operate.

Carole Everhart said it reflects their approach of providing medical care in a homey, comforting atmosphere rather than a conventional institutional setting. The clinic also will have a therapy dog that will help both child and adult patients feel more at ease.

Yet its innovative philosophy doesn’t end there.

The Everharts’ clinic will not deal with insurance, Medicare or Medicaid claims. Instead, patients will pay a flat fee of $40 upon arriving — by cash, debit or credit card. There will be additional charges for extra services required, such as giving someone a shot, but patients will be informed before these are rendered so there are no surprises.

Patients can use insurance coverage, but must file their own paperwork after paying the clinic.

Night, Weekend Hours

Another of the new clinic’s revolutionary elements will be its schedule offering night and weekend hours. The facility will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Friday, on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m.

“If you get sick in the evening or during a weekend, the only place you can go is the ER,” Carole Everhart said of the present situation facing southern Virginia residents.

Among the services to be provided at Everhart Primary Health Care are treatment of acute minor illnesses, management of stable chronic illnesses, wellness examinations/physicals, health education and promotion and disease prevention.

Carole and Dee Everhart have a combined 83 years of nursing experience. Dee Everhart has a family practice background — including working with her husband, Dr. Carlton Everhart, a longtime local physician who is now retired. Most recently, she was associated with a Charlotte firm that provides occupational health services to companies in this region.

Her daughter has worked in the areas of pediatrics, family practice and developmental disabilities. For years, Carole Everhart was employed at Southwest Virginia Training Center near Hillsville.

Dr. Barry Mayberry will serve as team physician for the new clinic, which will involve overseeing its care.

The clinic will be open in mid-July. “Right now, we’re aiming for the 15th,” Carole Everhart said.

While the facility won’t be equipped to handle some types of care, it is associated with a network of specialists to whom patients can be referred. Dee Everhart also mentioned that arrangements have been made with Lab Corps to ensure low costs for any lab work required for patients.

Carole Everhart said much effort has been devoted to keeping the clinic’s overhead costs as low as possible, to limit expenses for patients. While it is non-profit, any profits that are realized will be given back to the community in the form of donations to agencies such as the Cana volunteer fire department and rescue squad.

The operators saw a need for such a medical facility in Cana, and thought it would fill a major void, Carole Everhart said of the reasons for launching the clinic. “That’s something we felt like we could offer the community.”

People need access to care without having to drive to Mount Airy or “up the mountain,” Everhart added.

“We’re real excited,” she said of the clinic’s upcoming opening, a sentiment that also has been shared by community residents.

“We’ve got a lot of positive comments.”

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