Health facility and Semprius toured by Sen. Burr

Mar. 25, 2013 @ 06:36 PM

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr made four stops in the northern central section of the state Monday during a break from Congress, including in Henderson and Norlina.

Burr was given a morning tour with several county and city leaders at Semprius, the solar manufacturing facility that produces a unique high concentration photovoltaic module. After lunch, he was at one of 11 community health centers operated by Rural Health Group, Inc. in northeastern North Carolina.

Brian Harris, CEO of Rural Health Group, and several staff members from the organization’s headquarters in Roanoke Rapids were present, along with Norlina Mayor Dwight Pearce.

“The community health structure is important,” said the Winston-Salem Republican. “The same thing doesn’t work in every community.”

Burr, a ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said he was working to find a way to bring community health centers and the VA together to provide health services closer to where veterans live.

“I’m looking for a pilot project,” Burr said.

Harris responded by volunteering one of the Rural Health Group sites, pointing out they combined behavioral health, case management and primary care.

After receiving an eye examination to demonstrate the clinic’s photo examination, Burr said, “I’m disturbed that you can’t get somebody local to read your films. I’ll be in Greenville tomorrow and see what I can do. Sometimes it takes a little nudge.”

Harris showed Burr plans for a new building, which will be constructed behind the present facility at 110 Division Street. It will provide 4,000 square feet, almost double the space of the present building.

Harris gave Burr a tour of the clinic and introduced him to the local staff. Jenna Enoch, a physician’s assistant, manages the Norlina facility.

Like other clinics in the network, the Rural Health Group at Norlina provides primary medical care, dental care and other health-related services to residents of the area.

Burr expressed his appreciation to the clinic staff.

“For many, it’s their medical home,” he said. “In a facility like this they find personalized care, more than in the typical primary care facility, certainly more than in the emergency room.”

He added that by providing preventive care, the quality of life of patients is improved while the overall cost of health care is reduced.

The Rural Health Group is not a free clinic. Patients are asked to contribute something to the cost of their care, but services are provided on a sliding fee scale, based on income and family size. No one is refused service because of inability to pay. The clinic accepts patients who have no health insurance as well as those with medical insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare.

Harris pointed out that by networking, staff members could put in time in more than one location.

“Our network lets us bring services in at the time they’re needed,” he said.

Rural Health Group, Inc., a non-profit organization, was formed in 1974. The clinic at Norlina opened in 2008. During the past year it had 4,187 patient visits and served 2,193 different individuals.

 

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.