Need to see a doctor in the New River Valley? What about a mental health professional or dentist? The Community Health Center of the New River Valley (CHCNRV) is there to help.

However, this wasn’t always the case. Before CHCNRV received its first grant from the Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) back in 1994, the local healthcare options available to uninsured and underserved residents were extremely limited.

Over the last two decades, CHCNRV has used funding from VHCF and other donors to transform itself from a tiny free clinic into a large, federally-funded Community Health Center treating thousands of residents at multiple locations throughout Montgomery, Giles, and Pulaski Counties.

In recognition of the health center’s impressive growth and achievements, VHCF has awarded CHCNRV the $10,000 Second Place Prize in its recent Prizes for Progress contest.

“We established the Prizes for Progress contest as a special way to celebrate our 25th anniversary and recognize our dedicated health safety net partners,” said Debbie Oswalt, VHCF’s Executive Director. “Both current and former grantees were invited to share the ways in which VHCF funding has helped their organizations grow and succeed over the last 25 years.”

CHCNRV’s remarkable progress stood out among dozens of compelling entries. Starting with a program that allowed local physicians to volunteer to treat free clinic patients in their own offices, CHCNRV’s innovative initiatives have been instrumental in improving healthcare in the New River Valley.

With VHCF funding and support, CHCNRV can now offer everything from routine medical care to complex dental services at their three locations. This integration of medical, behavioral health, and other services allows CHCNRV to treat patients as a whole and prevents many treatable conditions from slipping through the cracks.

For example, 89 percent of all CHCNRV medical patients are now screened for depression, nearly twice the state and national average. As CHCNRV plans to invest their Prizes for Progress award in their new Patient Assistance Fund, their partnership with VHCF promises to continue making healthcare more accessible to uninsured and underserved local residents.

VHCF’s Prizes for Progress contest also recognized two other Virginia health safety net organizations for their extraordinary growth and development over the last 25 years.

The Health Wagon of Wise, Virginia was awarded the Grand Prize of $15,000 for their entry highlighting their organization’s many innovative programs – including providing essential healthcare services via telehealth and delivering lifesaving medications to remote locations with drones.

The Northern Neck Free Clinic tied with CHCNRV for second place and also received $10,000 in prize money.

In addition to rewarding their remarkable progress, the unrestricted prize money will help support these organizations’ continued growth and development for years to come.

The Virginia Health Care Foundation is a non-profit public/private partnership with a mission to increase access to primary health care for uninsured and medically underserved Virginians.

Initiated by the General Assembly and its Joint Commission on Health Care in 1992, the Foundation has funded 392 community-based projects across the Commonwealth, and its programs and partnerships have touched the lives of more than 700,000 uninsured Virginians.

For more information about VHCF and its programs, visit or call (804) 828-5804.

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