New Executive Director has hopes for Riverside Health Center

From Guatemala, to Mali, to Madagascar and back to the banks of the Cowpasture River, Sheri Walters has worked for years bringing health care to people for whom it is hard to get. While there is plenty of talk (and frequent disagreement) about changes in our health care system, the reality is, adequate medical care for many is often still just out of reach. Walters, the new executive director of the Riverside Health Center, formerly Allegheny Highlands Free Clinic in Covington, brought finely tuned skills to her new job early this year.

“I started at the beginning of March, so I’m still learning, and working on getting my feet on the ground. So, it hasn’t been long.”

When asked who could benefit from seeking services at the Riverside Health Center, Walters replied,

“There still are a number of people who are uninsured who didn’t qualify for insurance with the Affordable Care Act since Virginia did not expand Medicaid, or they can’t afford to have the insurance that they are qualified for. And so, those persons could come and talk to us, and in fact we also have some one here through Rockbridge County who is available to help people sign up for Health Insurance too.”

Just the process of completing an insurance application can be daunting enough, and doing it with or for a family member who is sick, or having trouble finding necessary information can keep it from happening altogether. The Free Clinic can fill in the gap for some residents while they wait for their situation to change, and it is available for others whose budgets just don’t allow for consistent medical attention.

So, what are some of your hopes for the Riverside Health Center?

Sheri Walters continued,

“Well, I’d like to see us increase our presence in the community, and to coordinate better with other safety net providers. I’d like for us to be working as a team, and not just address curative care, but also to work on health promotion, and prevention, and to remember that there are a lot of other aspects of patient’s lives that affect their health that aren’t directly related to health, and if we can partner with other organizations then we can better address and improve health.”

Some of those partners could be local schools, churches, or civic groups like Rotary or Ruritans. Have our listeners’ groups participated in any volunteer projects recently?   Did you know that a “medical mission” could be available right here?

“We’re hoping to streamline, and improve the application process for Bath County residents.”

In order to this, the clinic needs volunteers in the immediate area to meet patients, and help them apply.

“I’m looking to find a few dedicated volunteers in the Hot Springs and Warm Springs area, and in the Millboro area just to be on call to help people sign up with the applications. It wouldn’t be a full-time thing, or even a part-time thing, and they would be trained to help with applications. And if anyone has any questions, they can call us at the Riverside Health Center. Our phone number is 540-962-1660, and you can ask for extension 205.”  Bath patients can be seen in the Rural Health Center on the second floor of Bath Community Hospital.

Volunteers would not need to travel to Covington, other than possibly for training.

Please consider helping out a neighbor, or a young family, by volunteering with the clinic. They are located at   332 West Riverside Ave., and are open Monday through Thursday, 7:30 to 4:00, and Fridays 7:30-12:00. And again, the phone number is 540-962-1660.



Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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