Snow Camp, N.C. - When the Sylvan Community Health Center in Alamance County opened in June, it was a new concept to most of us. Now, the center sees a steady stream of patients every day.
Rita Barnett used to drive more than a half-hour away to go to the doctor. "There's basically no health care here in Snow Camp. You either go to Siler City or Liberty or Burlington or somewhere else," Barnett said.
Now, the Sylvan Community Health Center has changed all that. It's right on the campus of Sylvan Elementary School.
"People in this community said, 'We need health care. We need to find a partner who can make this work,'" Piedmont Health CEO Brian Toomey said.
Since it opened in June, nearly 350 people have sought treatment there. Most are from the area. However, some have come from as far away as Durham or Raleigh.
"There's not enough access for people for health care in lots of communities. Word of mouth is the greatest advertisement when it comes to that. It just says to me that when people want health care, they're willing to do what's necessary to get it in a high quality, low cost fashion," Toomey said.
With the upcoming ObamaCare legislation about to take effect, the center could get even busier.
"More people are going to want more care in a preventive, primary care way, than ever before. We think this is the ideal way to address that," Toomey said.
Barnett says the center has already made a big difference in her life and the community in just a few months. "I'm on my way to being a lot healthier," she said.
Piedmont Health operates the health center separately from the school district. But, students can be treated at the center with permission from their parents. Teachers have also taken advantage of it.
The center accepts both insured and uninsured patients. It has become so successful, Piedmont Health plans to open another similar center near a school in Burlington next year.
If you're wondering about security when it comes to patients coming on school grounds, the health center is in a separate building.
Right now, there are about twenty medical centers based at schools in our state.