CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WFXR) – Every Tuesday, WFXR News highlights a local woman nominated to be the Nexstar Remarkable Women of the year.
Meet Chief Executive Officer of the Community Health Center of the New River Valley Michelle Brauns. People in the community say, Michelle took on the challenge years ago and now, people who didn’t have access to healthcare, DO!

“The history of this organization is long and well rooted in this community,” says Michelle Brauns.

The Community Health Center of the New River Valley has been around for some 30 years. “In 1981, it was advertised as the first free clinic in the area,” says Brauns.
The Christiansburg clinic served many people and when Michelle Brauns became the CEO 15 years ago, she vowed to serve many more.

“There were alot of people who weren’t insured and underinsured who had chronic conditions who really need to be cared for,” says Brauns.

Brauns, the board, and volunteers and worked until they saw change. It was a major breakthrough for the community. This free clinic got a grant more than half-a-million dollars from the government to back Brauns’ vision.

“What we did was open our doors even wider to the community,” says Brauns.

The Community Health Center offered more services, like dental care, behavioral health, and more medical services, all at the same location. Also, instead of a volunteer workforce, Brauns hired help, administration, practitioners, dentists, and support.

Brauns says, “We are still a non-profit and still serving our original mission to the community, but now i can see individuals who are on medicaid and historically are low income people on medicare. our senior citizens we never served those before generally need alot of care.”

Doctors see the elderly, children, and everyone in between. Insured, underinsured or no insurance at all — everyone is welcome.

“If you love what you do it’s not work, right,” says Brauns.

She loves what she does and the community loves how she does it. Todd Marcum, nominated Brauns to be the Nexstar Woman of the Year.

“Her vision has driven it from being a relatively small, but needed local non-profit to being something that regionally is having an impact on the health of the community,” Marcum says.

“Michelle is indeed a remark woman,” he adds.

She’s a remarkable woman worthy of winning a trip to New York City to be a guest live on the Mel Robbins Show.

Brauns says, “I couldn’t believe that someone would think what we were doing here was important enough to talk about it.”

She appreciates the honor, but says, win or lose, she’s grateful. She’s pursuing her life’s purpose and passion, providing excellent primary patient care for her community. Brauns was able to open two more locations; one in Dublin and another in Pearisburg with all the same services.
They now serve about 5,000 patients a year.