By Kim Barto Meeks
No health insurance? No problem. All community members are invited to drop in for free medical, dental, and other health care services at an event this Saturday in uptown Martinsville, regardless of their insurance status or income.
Patients will be seen on a walk-in basis from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2 during the fifth annual Martinsville Community Care Collaborative. The event takes place at First United Methodist Church’s Uptown Ministry Center at 145 E. Main Street. Numerous medical providers and local nonprofits join forces to provide the day of health-related services at no cost to the public.
Organizers hope to help about 500 people on Saturday. Attendees can receive medical and dental exams, flu shots, hearing and vision tests, foot and nail care, haircuts, information on various health issues, referrals to local medical providers for follow-up care, and help signing up for Medicaid.
The number of people attending each year has been growing, said Brittany Anthony, marketing director for the Martinsville-Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness, one of the nonprofit partners in the collaborative.
In particular, dental services have attracted a lot of interest from the public, she said.
“With the high need for dental care in our area, the dental services have been expanded to serve more patients this year,” Anthony said. While they cannot help with dentures at Saturday’s event, teeth cleaning, fillings, screenings, and even root canals will be available, she said.
Appointments are not required, but the first 100 dental patients who sign up in advance and attend a pre-screening between 2 and 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1 will be helped faster on Saturday, Anthony said. This is “so that when the event starts Saturday morning, they are in the chair ready to go, without delay,” she said.
The MHC Coalition for Health and Wellness is listed as the main point of contact for questions about the event, but Anthony said it takes many, many community partners working together to make it happen. A full list of participating agencies can be found at http://liberty.edu/LUCOM/CCC.
Many of these partners have been vigorously marketing the collaborative over the past few months at various employer-sponsored health fairs, street festivals, and community resource events throughout the city and county.
From the Coalition’s perspective, the goal of the Martinsville Community Care Collaborative is not just to provide health services one day a year as an isolated event. It is also about “getting folks connected with the services they need to take care of themselves throughout the rest of the year,” Anthony said.
“We just want folks to invest in their health and wellness and understand that it is year-round,” she added.
The Coalition says it is important for patients to become established with a primary care doctor or other medical provider. This means that they have a “medical home,” or one primary office they can visit regularly for wellness checkups, screenings, and preventative care, instead of only visiting a doctor when they get sick or injured. Ultimately, this can mean better health outcomes for patients.
“The way we look at it, we are trying to shift the focus from treatment to prevention,” Anthony said. “There are many conditions where if you catch them early on, you have a much better chance of being able to treat them, instead of waiting until late in the game. You need to make sure you are seeing your primary care doctor.”
For those who do not already have a primary care provider, the Coalition can help. The organization operates two federally qualified health centers in Henry County: Bassett Family Practice and Ridgeway Family Health. Both will be represented Saturday at the Martinsville Community Care Collaborative to answer questions and schedule follow-up visits for any attendees who need them.
Both medical centers “welcome everyone,” Anthony said — whether a person has health insurance, is underinsured, on Medicare or Medicaid. Patients without insurance pay a sliding fee scale based on household income.
The Martinsville Community Care Collaborative will also feature information on affordable or no-cost health coverage options available to certain groups. Outreach staff will be on hand to help attendees navigate the new Virginia Medicaid expansion, find out if they are eligible, and apply for health benefits.
Many more Virginia residents ages 19 to 64 who did not qualify for Medicaid in the past may now be eligible, thanks to new guidelines that went into effect January 1, 2019. The expansion raised the income limits on adults with disabilities and parents of children by thousands of dollars. It also opened eligibility to childless adults for the first time, if they earn annual wages of $17,237 or less.
Before 2019, for example, a single disabled person had to make $9,700 or less in a year to qualify for Medicaid benefits. That limit has been raised to $17,237. A family of three (two parents and a child) may now earn up to $29,436, a substantial increase from $6,900.
For questions or more information about Saturday’s event, call 276.638.0787. Patients without transportation to the event can learn about ride options by calling Mandy Folman of the Southern Area Agency on Aging at 276.632.6442.
Servicio en español disponsible (Spanish language services are available).