New medical clinic opens its doors in Shoreham; dental care in works
SHOREHAM — It was five years ago that the Shorewell Clinic found itself homeless after a fire consumed its rented space within the former Newton Academy building on Shoreham’s School Street. Shorewell Clinic’s lone physician, Dr. Allan Curtiss, was fortunate enough to find — and relocate his clinic into — new space for rent at 115 Main St.
Last week, Curtiss and the Shorewell Clinic made what is likely to be their last move for many decades — into the new Shorewell Community Health
Center building at 2987 Route 22A near the Shoreham Service Center. The $1.8 million, 4,200-square-foot facility will give Curtiss’ practice some much-needed breathing room and will eventually become a base of operations for a second physician, dental practice and a bevy of other services that will be offered to citizens regardless of their income and health insurance status.
“We’re very happy; it is the first facility we have built from scratch,” said Lenny Gibson, vice chairman of the Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region (CHCRR), which will offer Shorewell as one of seven Federally Qualified Health Centers, or FQHCs, under its umbrella. The CHCRR’s other health centers are located in Brandon, Rutland (3), Castleton and West Pawlet. As an FQHC, Shorewell accepts any patient who shows up for care, including the uninsured, those with private insurance, and those covered by federal Medicaid and Medicare programs. Shorewell works out payment plans, on a sliding scale based on income, with patients who have no coverage.
Grant Whitmer is executive director of CHCRR, which officially brought Curtiss into its fold three years ago.
“Our main goal was to give him the support he needed, but also to stay out of his way,” Whitmer recalled, noting Curtiss had already been operating as a physician in Shoreham since 1989. Curtiss is an internist and cardiologist whose roster of approximately 1,200 patients are primarily middle age and older, though he does treat the occasional child.
Curtiss, reached on Monday — his first day in the new center — said the larger quarters and promise of additional staff will allow him to better serve his patients and usher in an array of new services. Shorewell currently consists of Curtiss, two nurses and a receptionist.
“With one (physician), there are only 24 hours in the day,” Curtiss said, adding the new center could soon allow him to cut back from his five office days per week.
The new center includes three dentist’s chairs. A dentist, Dr. Thomas Chadwick, will begin working out of the center on a part-time basis beginning this July and August, then ramp up hours as demand dictates, according to Whitmer.
Plans call for a second primary care physician to join the center within the next six to eight months, Whitmer said. Organizers will also make the center available to counselors, cardiologists and other health care officials needing a place to serve patients. The center will be most convenient to Shoreham and Orwell patients, but will take all comers.
In the short-term, Family Nurse Practitioner Margaret Dusha will join Shorewell in around a month, according to Whitmer. She will specialize in care to infants, children and women, Whitmer said.
The Shorewell center also includes an unfinished basement level that could be used for future expansion of medical services and to host community meetings, Whitmer said.
“This building is bigger than we need it to be (right now), but it will be a resource for the community going forward,” he said.
A grand opening for the Shorewell Community Health Center is planned for Saturday, June 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Health care providers will be present to lead tours of the building, and free food will be served. Whitmer hopes that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will be able to attend. He credited Sanders with helping to secure $1.3 million in federal funds to help finance the structure. Sanders’ participation is likely to depend greatly on his presidential campaign schedule.
Curtiss has big hopes for the future success of the center.
“As we now can offer more services and accommodate more patients, I can see a lot of growth potential,” he said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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