Congressman Tom Perriello today announced that the Blue Ridge Medical Center in Nelson County will receive a $5,000,000 grant to expand care throughout Central Virginia. The funding comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which Perriello supported. He joined Ms. Peggy Whitehead, Executive Director of Blue Ridge Medical Center, for the announcement today at the White House.
“Blue Ridge Medical Center is critical in delivering quality, affordable health care to our rural communities. I’m thrilled that this major investment from the Recovery Act will allow the Blue Ridge Medical Center to expand its services to more patients throughout Central Virginia while creating new jobs in this expansion process,” said Rep. Perriello.
Nationwide, nearly $600 million in ARRA funds were awarded to support major construction and renovation projects at 85 community health centers. The awards are expected to not only create new job opportunities in construction and health care, but also help provide care for more than half a million additional patients in underserved communities. Blue Ridge Medical Center was the only community health center in Virginia to receive an award through the Facility Investment Program.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to expand our community health center to accommodate the growing need for improved access to health care,” stated Weeta Bell-Phillips, the President of the Board of Directors for Blue Ridge Medical Center.
“The grant will enable us to almost double the number of exam rooms, provide additional space for our Pharmacy and once again house our Rural Health Outreach Program at the Center,” Executive Director, Peggy Whitehead reported. “We are eager to get started.”
Part of the overall expansion plan includes the addition of dental services for which other funding resources are being pursued.
Many of Blue Ridge Medical Center’s patients come from Nelson and Amherst Counties, both of which are officially designated as “Medically Underserved Areas” (MUAs). Access to health care for many low income and/or uninsured area residents is often difficult, and the area has experienced an increase in unemployment and people in economic distress. Blue Ridge Medical Center provides care for members of the community at all income levels, whether insured or uninsured.
Last year, over 2,000 new patients sought care at BRMC, for a total of 9,255 patients served. This year, an average of 150 new patients a month continue walk in the door. To meet the increasing health care demands in Nelson County and the surrounding communities, Blue Ridge Medical Center began planning for the expansion project in 2007. “We have had excellent community support for this project,” said Bruce Bertelsen, Board Vice-President, “and we will continue to actively seek feedback and ideas from all members of the community as we move forward with our plans.”
“People know that if they need quality primary health care, Blue Ridge Medical Center is accessible and has a sliding fee scale to make care affordable,” Whitehead added. The Center will celebrate 25 years of service to the community in 2010.
Blue Ridge Medical Center is located on Highway 29 in Colleen in Nelson County.