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Agency seeks to take over dental clinic

Posted on Friday, July 5, 2013 at 11:17 am

Central Virginia Health Services (CVHS), which operates a federally-funded health clinic in Bowling Green, is seeking to take over the Caroline Dental Clinic.

The clinic, which is operated by the state health department and primarily serves children in low-income families, is scheduled to close after next week. State health officials have said they can no longer afford to keep it open.

The board of directors of the CVHS voted June 18 to take over the clinic, but it will be some time before it is finalized.

“We’re working on it,” Roderick Manifold, executive director of the CVHS, said Friday. “It’s not a done deal. We have a process to go through.”

That process involves getting approval from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration to change the scope of services of CVHS. “Adding a site is a change in scope,” noted Manifold. The approval process will take 60 or more days, he indicated.

The CVHS operates Caroline Family Practice in Bowling Green, one of 14 medical offices it has in 15 counties and three cities. It is organized as a nonprofit but receives federal funding, and its mission is to provide health care services to low-income people.

Manifold already has talked with federal officials and expressed hope the CVHS’s request will be approved. “I don’t think there’s going to be a problem…but there’s no guarantee.”

Manifold will appear before the Caroline County Board of Supervisors at its regular meeting July 8 to ask the board to contribute $30,000 annually to support the clinic.

County Administrator Charles Culley already has indicated that the CVHS would be able to continue using the site, said Manifold. In addition, Dr. Brooke Rossheim, director of the Rappahannock Area Health District (RAHD), which includes the Caroline County Health Department and the dental clinic, has indicated the nonprofit could have the use of the equipment that is there, and Caroline County Public Schools officials have indicated the school division could continue to provide transportation for students to the clinic.

“It looks like all these pieces…are falling into place,” said Manifold.

Manifold acknowledged there may be a window of a few months that the clinic is shut down. It is scheduled to stop seeing patients after July 12.

State health officials in Richmond and the RAHD made the decision in June to close the Caroline Dental Clinic and others in Stafford and Spotsylvania.

The Caroline Dental Clinic serves about 600 children annually, and they average two or three visits a year to the clinic. The clinic operates in space at the county’s community services center in Milford.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously June 11 to appropriate $30,000 to help keep the clinic open through the end of the fiscal year, which ended June 30.

The clinic, which opened in 2003, has a $250,000 annual operating budget and was taking in $150,000 a year. RAHD was making up the difference but could no longer continue due to its own budget constraints, Rossheim said.

The clinic has lost money over the past four years, partly because the patient load has dropped from 820 in 2009 to 600 in recent months. It treats youngsters from kindergarten to grade 12 with Medicaid or FAMIS and those without insurance.

“We’re excited, and we’re very interested in partnering with Central Virginia,” Rossheim said this week. “It would be a very good thing for the parents, the children and the community.

The Caroline Dental Clinic is the only dental office in Caroline that accepts children covered by Medicaid, according to Cynthia Green, director of the county’s department of Social Services.

“Without the clinic, those families would have to go to Fredericksburg or Richmond. Some families may have only one car, or if they travel to Richmond or Fredericksburg, it would mean a loss of time from work,” Green said earlier.