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ARH still determining clinic needs at Jenkins

Appalachian Regional Healthcare Inc. is still trying to determine which patient services will be provided at its new clinic in Jenkins.

ARH recently bought 25- bed Jenkins Community Hospital from Kingsportbased Wellmont Health System and reopened the facility on May 1 as Jenkins ARH Family Care Center.

The clinic, which is located in the old hospital emergency room, is now open 12 hours a day (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) Monday through Saturday.

“The hours are expanded from where it was before,” said Whitesburg ARH Community CEO Dena Sparkman. “There’s some evening coverage for those people who may be working and don’t want to take time off work to go to the doctor or if a child gets home from school and is feeling puny.”

Sparkman said the renovated area designated for the clinic is “cosmetically pleasing” and well equipped.

Sparkman said business was good on Friday, its opening day, but slowed down on Saturday. She said business picked up again on Monday.

“We hope it will increase as word spreads about the hours and the physicians that will be there,” said Sparkman.

Sparkman said Dr. David Minix will provide primary care physician services. The physician’s assistant is Shelebra Bartley. Dr. Licerio Soto will provide some relief coverage for Dr. Minix.

“I heard several positive community comments about Dr. Soto,” said Sparkman, adding that other physicians may be added in the future.

“You’ll see some of the same faces that you would have seen in the clinic,” said Sparkman. “One of the things that has changed is you’ll see some of the people who worked in the emergency room are now in the clinic.”

The clinic will offer radiology services 10 hours a day, as well as a laboratory draw station. Laboratory testing will be done at the Whitesburg hospital.

Sparkman said she and her staff are still deciding which other services will be offered at the clinic.

“Given that we have been there (three) days we are sorting through what services they are comfortable treating there,” said Sparkman. “It’s just real early in the process.”

Sparkman said the clinic is not an emergency room, but some emergencies, such as closing cuts, can be done at Jenkins.

“If you step on something at home and cut the bottom of your foot it can be sutured,” said Sparkman. “If your child falls on the swing set and bonks their arm they can get an x-ray of the extremities. If you have a really bad cold and are wondering if you have pneumonia they can do a chest x-ray there.

“We’re not putting it out there as an emergency room,” Sparkman added. “But we also think it is a little more than a clinic. They can do things that most clinics don’t do.”

Sparkman said she now talking with emergency medical service (EMS) crews in the area and “working through what can be responded to, what will be brought to the clinic, what needs to come on to the emergency room (at Whitesburg), and what could be flown out by helicopter” from Jenkins.

Sparkman said some former Jenkins Community said patients who expressed concern about losing their medical records during the transition from Wellmont to ARH have nothing to fear.

“Their medical records and information is still there and available,” she said.

Sparkman said ARH officials are still trying to determine the best use for the rest the hospital building.

“We still have a lot of equipment in that building that we now own,” said Sparkman. “We have made a commitment that it will be used for the people of Letcher County. If there is something that we need at Whitesburg we have first choice of that equipment to be used for the people of Letcher County. Right now the building has a lot of stuff in it. The inventory has been done. We know what’s there. It’s just a matter in our short time frame figuring out what is good and what needs to stay for the clinic.”

Jenkins Mayor Charles Dixon said he hopes the ARH finance department will move into a part of the old hospital building. Dixon said he is confident that ARH will do well at its new clinic.

“We are rooting for them to do well and serve the people of Jenkins and the surrounding areas,” said Dixon.

Dixon said ARH is already doing community service in ways that Wellmont did not.

The city and ARH will host a health fair and open house at the new clinic from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on May 16.

Barbecue prepared by the Mountain Shrine Club will be served free of charge, and T-shirts will be given away to the first 300 people who attend. Free health screenings and tours of the clinic will be available.

“I think they are making an extra effort to (be a part of the community),” said Dixon. “I think the community health fair will be a positive event.”

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