The town of Big Island will be losing its only medical center by the end of the year.
Centra Medical Group owns the clinic, which has two other branches in Lynchburg and Bedford. They say those centers offer more services than their Big Island location, including lab work and emergency services.
Representatives sent out letters Monday to all their patients letting them know their doors are closing. Some patients are confused why, because the nearest medical service is in Bedford or Lynchburg, almost 20 miles away.
“I can go other places,” said Tommy Moore, a patient at the clinic. “But older people around here, they can’t go to Lynchburg or to Bedford. I mean they’re going to miss it.”
They say there are several reasons for this decision.
The building itself is old and renovations would be costly. The Emergency Services building is attached to the clinic and owns the property the two share. Captain Larry Whorley says he was confused by this reason because they’ve paid for all structural costs to the clinic building so far.
“In fact, in the last year, we’ve spent over $10,000 on structural things that they requested, either that did in fact need repair, some things they felt needed to be remediated, or just upgrades,” said Whorley.
The center also hasn’t been able to secure a full time provider and can’t fully staff the clinic without one.
All staff from Big Island will be transferred within the company, so they also say no one will be getting laid off.
This clinic has been there for more than 40 years. It officially shuts its doors on December 28.
Whorley said he is starting a petition with the Big Island Volunteer Fire Department to convince Centra to stay. He says that if it doesn’t work, they will try to get another medical group in there as soon as possible to service the area.
WFXR will keep you updated on this story as it develops.