The grand opening of the UVA Student and Employee Health Wise Clinic on Friday afternoon was heralded as a historic moment for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and the University of Virginia Health System.
“This is the first of it’s kind — we’ve never done an employee and student health clinic combined,” UVA Health System Corporate Development Officer Charlotte Perkins said, “You’re the first and hopefully this will not be the last. This new model really will serve and do the things that we think we need to do for the health of our employees — your spouses too — and our students.”
UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry described the variety of services that the clinic will offer, which includes access to a full-time registered nurse and full-time nurse practitioner. Henry also spoke about the new telemedicine technology that will be available to students and employees.
“This clinic is a clear win in promoting the wellness of our students and employees,” Henry said. “[Telemedicine technology] means we can communicate in real time with primary care physicians and specialists in Charlottesville on a range of issues requiring consultation. Through telemedicine, we reduce days away from school or work, and we save time and money traveling to other facilities.”
During the ceremony, Perkins also directed attention to the dedication and work put into getting the clinic open by Nurse Practitioner Johnnie Bledsoe, who Perkins said had spent nearly a month and a half in Charlottesville, away from her family, in order to make sure the clinic would open on time.
“The first time I talked to Johnnie when we were interviewing her, she said to me, ‘It would be an honor for me to be able to serve the people where I grew up.’ and I thought she’s the one,” Perkins said.. “She’s the one we should hire because she cares about the people of this community.”
Board of Visitors member and Chair of the Committee on Wise Elizabeth Cranwell praised the efforts that went into completing the project, saying that the clinic will be transformational in many ways to the lives of UVa-Wise students and employees.
UVa-Wise student Peter Valadez also spoke at the ceremony about what the opening of the clinic means to him as a student and as a student ambassador. Valadez spoke of an occasion where he was giving a student and her mother a tour of the campus, when the mother inquired about the health services available at the time.
“When the parent expressed her concern to me, I understood then and there that our healthcare clinic needed to evolve to meet the needs of students,” he said. “As I made the journey back to Wise this fall, I was informed of our new health clinic and was thrilled with the good news — not only as a student, but as a student representative of our college.”
The funding for the clinic totaled $273,000 according to a press release from the college.
Along with providing healthcare services for students and employees, the clinic will also provide clinical observation experience for nursing students and internships in telemedicine for computer science students.