Free Clinic opens new facility

By Ryan Cornell

WOODSTOCK — The Shenandoah County Free Clinic and Shenandoah Dental Clinic unveiled its new facility on Friday.

Originally stationed behind Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, the new location at 124 Valley Vista Drive is more than double the size of its former location and could serve twice as many patients.

The number of medical exam rooms has increased from 2½ to six rooms, dental chairs from two to seven chairs and medical offices from three to six offices.

Pam Murphy, executive director of the clinic, said the new one-level facility is handicap-accessible — unlike the previous building, which lacked an elevator — and can offer more privacy for its patients.

The free clinic, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides health care to those without health insurance and to those up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, saw 750 visitors when it first opened in 2002. Last year, the clinic treated nearly 6,000 visitors.

Speaking at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday afternoon, Murphy teared up while recounting the progress made.

“Twelve years ago, Dr. [Gregory] Byrd and I cut the ribbon to open the facility,” she said. “And we’ve come a long way from that.”

She said the small spaces at the old clinic stopped them from growing their services. She expects the clinic to continue to grow.

“Contrary to what other people might think, we believe health care reform is going to make us busier,” she said.

The total cost of the new facility was about $2 million. She said $600,000 was spent on purchasing the former nursing home property, $1.2 million was spent on renovations and another $200,000 was spent outfitting it with equipment and furnishings. More than 85 percent of that $2 million has been raised, she said.

Beaming from ear to ear, Dr. Lucciola Lambruschini, a dentist who’s been working at the clinic for five years, said she was “very excited” to start work at the new facility.

“It’s a big improvement,” she said. “It’s bigger, nicer and cleaner.”

The sole dentist at the clinic, she said the additional dental chairs and equipment, much of which was donated by the Augusta Regional Free Clinic, will allow her to treat more patients.

“I’m looking forward to helping more people,” she said.

Murphy said the clinic plans on treating its first patients when it opens on Tuesday.

She added that the clinic is always looking for more volunteers.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com