Serving a growing need

A patient receives treatment at CrossOver Ministry’ Henrico location recently.

Because of the downturn in the economy and Virginia’s strict Medicaid qualifications, many low income earning adults are having difficulties affording health care.

CrossOver Ministry, founded in 1983, has provided those who are uninsured with health care options. The organization operates three clinics in the Richmond region, including one in Henrico County.

Benefitting from a recent program funded by the Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF), the clinic has been able to bring in a full-time nurse practitioner. Renee Hammel, the new NP, began working full time at the clinic in April of this year.

Hammel will help to provide immediate care for patients referred to CrossOver after they have been discharged from a hospital stay or an emergency room visit.

“She [Hammel] gives us the ability to take patients in quickly from inpatient care and service their needs more effectively,” said CrossOver Executive Director Julie Bilodeau.

The clinic averages more than 70 patients a day and had almost 18,000 visits in the last fiscal year. Hague, who has worked at the Henrico clinic since it opened in 2005, has noticed how busy the Henrico location has gotten.

“When the clinic first opened its doors, we were only open for three days a week,” said Bilodeau. “Now we stay open all five weekdays and on most Saturdays.”

“I believe we are a central part of the community,” said Bilodeau. “We provide care to those who are left with no other options.”

The clinic has expanded and renovated numerous times during the past few years to keep up with the influx of patients. According to Bilodeau, long-term unemployment is forcing more people to forgo health insurance, leading to a growing number of “working poor” in the area .

The low-income community that uses the CrossOver’s services is diverse. First-generation immigrants and political refugees make up the majority of the patients who attend the clinic.

“It seems like you hear about a country on the news and then we see people coming to our clinic from that country,” said Hammel.

Immigrants and refugees come from a variety of different places including Egypt, Russia, and Nepal.

According to Ana Bolanos, a first generation immigrant from El Salvador, visiting the CrossOver clinic is the only way she is able to receive any health care at all.

“I left El Salvador to get away from violence and poverty,” said Bolanos. Although she works full time cleaning houses, she is still unable to afford health insurance because she must also support her family.

Carlos (name changed for privacy), who also emigrated from El Salvador in the 1990s, works part-time as a janitor.

“I have to support my wife and three children,” said Carlos. “Without the clinic, I would not be able to get this medical care.”

The question has been raised about how much of an effect the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, will have on the CrossOver Ministry.

“We receive no federal money, so it is hard to say if we get any funding from the bill,” said Bilodeau. “We’re hopeful, but we’ve seen none so far.”

CrossOver Ministry is unlike other health clinics in the area because, unlike places such as the Daily Planet, CrossOver does not receive federal funds and is instead almost fully financed by philanthropic donations. CrossOver does receive some state funding, specifically to support its HIV diagnosis and treatment program.

Virginia’s strict Medicaid eligibility is one of the main reasons that so many Virginians are without insurance and that CrossOver has been forced to expand in an effort to accommodate so many people. Medicaid is set to be expanded when the Affordable Care Act comes into full effect in 2014. Many more people are expected to fall under the umbrella of the new Medicaid program.

The price of health insurance also is expected to be reduced, so that many more individuals can afford the basic package.

“More people will be able to afford basic coverage, but they will still be struggling,” said Bilodeau. “That is why I think we will still be important even after the bill comes into effect.”

CrossOver offers healthcare services, such as dental care, that are not covered under lower priced health care packages or Medicaid in the state of Virginia. The clinic also offers counseling sessions for those dealing with new lifestyle changes (such as those who have returned from prison) and nutrition classes to help fight obesity.

Even with healthcare reform, officials at CrossOver Ministry still believe there will be people who need care.

“Some people will fall through the cracks,” said Bilodeau. “We will still have a place in the community to help those who need it.”
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Business in brief

Henrico-based nonprofit Commonwealth Autism recently received the Standards for Excellence Institute’s Seal of Excellence for successfully completing its accreditation program. Commonwealth Autism voluntarily opened itself to analysis by a peer review team during the last 18 months that examined the organization’s compliance with the “Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector.” These standards cover areas such as: mission, strategy and evaluation; leadership – board, staff and volunteers; legal compliance and ethics; finance and operations; resource development; and public awareness, engagement and advocacy. Commonwealth Autism was one of six organizations in the Richmond region to be recognized and the first in the region to achieve full accreditation. In addition to this accreditation, Commonwealth Autism is recognized as an Accredited Charity with the Richmond Better Business Bureau and holds accreditation from the Code of Ethics for Behavioral Organizations (COEBO). > Read more.

Purify Infrared Sauna opens at GreenGate

Purify Infrared Sauna recently opened its second Henrico location at GreenGate Shopping Center in Short Pump.

Owner Mary Woodbridge opened her first Purify location on Patterson Avenue in July 2015. The new store is located at 301 Maltby Boulevard, Suite C, west of Short Pump Town Center. > Read more.

Henrico Master Gardener training program accepting applications through Oct. 27

The Henrico County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension is accepting applications for its next volunteer Master Gardener training program, which provides instruction in all aspects of horticulture.

Applications for the 2018 training program will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 27. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 16 through March 22. > Read more.

Henrico Schools to host Oct. 30 job fair

Henrico Schools will host a job fair Oct. 30.

The event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield branch library, is designed to attract potential full-time and substitute registered nurses, instructional assistants, bus drivers and school nutrition workers. > Read more.

Henrico Police to participate in ‘Tip a Cop’ Oct. 21

Henrico County Police Division and the Virginia Division of Capitol Police are participating in “Tip-A-Cop” to Support the Special Olympics Saturday, Oct. 21.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. that day at Red Robin, 11784 West Broad Street, members of the two agencies will be working for tips as a donation to the Special Olympics. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

October 2017

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Kick start your Weekend on Wednesday at the Short Pump W.O.W. from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Short Pump Park, 3329 Pump Rd. Kids can explore the playground and four-legged friends can run in the dog park while you check out local food trucks for dinner. Danny Kensy will provide the entertainment. For details, call 652-1441 or visit Full text

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