By Josette Keelor
Area families who used to make the drive to Charlottesville for outpatient pediatric cardiology care now have more options closer to home.
The University of Virginia Children's Hospital has opened its Winchester Specialty Care Clinic, at 1829 Plaza Drive, Winchester, to treat young patients with congenital or acquired heart disease, heart murmurs, high blood pressure, heart rhythm disorders or heart failure, according to a news release from the University of Virginia.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday each week. The clinic opened this week with patients scheduled to start coming in on Tuesday, but pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Kevin Kollins, said some late referrals brought in patients earlier than expected.
"We're a day ahead of schedule," he said.
Only minutes from Winchester Medical Center, the specialty clinic off Jubal Early Drive is a first for the University of Virginia.
"I am the very first permanently located sub-specialist that UVA has set up," Kollins said. "I'm kind of like the vanguard, or the guinea pig."
The clinic will include medical services by doctors already treating patients in Winchester, said Deena Lanham, executive director of Women's and Children's Services for Valley Health.
"It's the new UVA clinic but it's still the old UVA clinic," Lanham said. The old clinic was located at the Cork Street Campus of Winchester Medical Center in a space the university hospital was renting from Valley Health, she said.
Pediatric Nephrologist John Barcia, Pediatric Endocrinologist Christine Burt Solorano and Pediatric Genetics Specialist William Wilson are expected to move their services to the clinic in coming weeks. The diabetes/endocrinology clinic will reopen in its new location Monday, the nephrology/renal clinic next Thursday and the genetics clinic on Aug. 26.
According to Lanham, local access to services from other health care systems is nothing new. Winchester Medical Center includes pediatric services from the cardiology department at Inova heath care system based in Falls Church and heart and vascular care from Pediatrix Medical Group of Annandale.
For years Children's Hospital has rented space in Winchester Medical Center's heart and vascular department to treat children referred by Valley Health. According to Lanham, they were only here twice a week, meaning many patients still had to make a two-hour or greater drive to Charlottesville, particularly for services not available in this area.
Kollins will have office hours in Winchester four days a week, planning to drive to Charlottesville on Wednesdays.
"I'll be kind of filling the same role but here on the ground," he said.
The clinic will offer echocardiogram tests and Holter monitors that track heart rhythm. Kollins also expects to start a treadmill system for patient stress tests.
"We're trying to help out the community," he said. "And save a lot of driving time."
With the clinic close by, Lanham said, "a lot of patients will be able to have more appointment availability."
A doctor for seven years now, Kollins discovered an interest in pediatric cardiology while completing medical school in Norfolk. There he began his residency before moving to Columbus, Ohio, to take a pediatric fellowship at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
A Virginia native, Kollins grew up in Springfield, and also has lived in Charlottesville and Richmond. He said he is looking forward to practicing medicine in Winchester.
"This is more like coming home," he said.
Contact the clinic at 540-678-3950.
Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org