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Bradley Free Clinic Keeps The Focus On Patients

Written by  Todd Marcum

The new presidential administration promises sweeping healthcare reforms. The last administration enacted sweeping healthcare reforms. In fact, healthcare reform has been a topic of the national dialogue for decades.  

The only thing more constant than the talk about healthcare is the need for it among the low-income and uninsured. Since 1974, Bradley Free Clinic has been meeting this need for working patients with the help of a dedicated group of volunteer healthcare professionals.

The clinic is fueled by the energy of these volunteers. Under the auspices of our volunteer board, 288 local health and lay workers provided 5,977 hours of service to our patients in 2016. Our Future Healthcare Professionals initiative provides students of Jefferson College of Health Sciences, VCOM, the VCU School of Dentistry, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Virginia Western Community College with opportunities to deliver nearly 2,500 clinical hours of service annually.

The advantages of a strong and capable free clinic are profound. Without access a medical home, people who lack the resources for healthcare often find their health problems spiraling out of control and end up in the emergency room or hospital for problems that could have been addressed much earlier by a primary care provider. In 2016, the Free Clinic helped 2,108 people who fell into this gap. It received more than 15,500 patient visits and dispensed more than $5 million in service value. About 20,000 prescription were filled, with a value exceeding $3.5 million.

In addition to its core medical, dental and pharmacy services, the clinic now offers specialty care, patient education, mental health services and wellness programs. In the coming year, the Bradley Free Clinic will focus on expanding its health and wellness services and on community outreach projects by partnering with critical safety net and healthcare agencies. It will launch a Women’s Health Program and a new wellness class, Balanced Living with Diabetes. The clinic has also seen its impact on the community expand since opening its doors to volunteers from other partnering agencies with the Roanoke Valley HOPE Initiative.

The Women’s Health Program will provide comprehensive preventive well-woman care, increased access to reproductive health, and more problem-based care and diagnostic procedures. The clinic is working with TAP’s Domestic Violence Services, Sabrina’s Place, Sexual Assault Response and Awareness Inc. and the Salvation Army’s Turning Point Domestic Violence Shelter to provide women in crisis situations with fast-track access to these services.

The clinic is also collaborating with Virginia Cooperative Extension to introduce the Balanced Living with Diabetes program to a select group of patients. This program teaches people with diabetes about nutritional management of their disease and about lifestyle practices that will prevent or slow the development of complications.

The Roanoke Valley HOPE Initiative, started by the Roanoke Police Department, established a volunteer network of “angels” to help people suffering from substance use disorders of all forms (opiates, marijuana, alcohol) to gain access to resources and services for treatment and recovery before an overdose or fatality occurs. This program also educates the community at large about the severity of the opioid epidemic facing our region. The Bradley Free Clinic, Carilion Clinic, other local agencies, a network of 32 volunteer angels and the Roanoke Police Department have created a community-based monthly drop-in session at the Bradley Free Clinic, where individuals with substance use disorders can learn about the professional health services available to them.

Over the years, the Bradley Free Clinic has grown in size, scope, vision and capacity. But while it has evolved, its core reason for existing has remained. A strong free clinic is an indispensable part of a healthy community, and the staff and volunteers of the clinic believe that everyone deserves access to high quality healthcare from skilled professionals who care.