Named for a Richmond man whose devotion to community health was unmatched, today the flagship location of Capital Area Health Network (CAHN) as well as its three other locations continue the tradition of making quality health care available to all members of the community.
The CAHN location at 25th St. is named for Vernon J. Harris, the son of a preacher whose family moved to 32nd St. at the turn of the century. He graduated from Armstrong High School, went on to Virginia Union University, and then Howard University Medical School. But he returned to Richmond in 1926 to open a practice in the East End. Dr. Harris became known as “the walking doctor” because he so often walked to where his patients were. In those economically trying times, many of Dr. Harris’ patients paid him with what they could, including eggs, vegetables, and poultry. He kept informed of medical advances, instituted educational programs for new doctors, and was involved in his community. In fact, Dr. Harris had just completed morning rounds when he passed away, in June of 1965.
CAHN, a non-profit organization, opened in March of 1999, funded in part by a health care initiative instituted by former President Bill Clinton. With specialized care covering the lifespan, CAHN offers people the opportunity to have a “home” health care facility, regardless of their health insurance coverage. They serve about 8000 patients a year with primary medical, dental, mental health and HIV/AIDS care. While they can’t come directly to clients as “the walking doctor” did so many years ago, CAHN will provide free transportation to their 25th St. location when you call 525-1852 to schedule.
Spokesperson Tracey Causey says, “We are a regular doctor’s office. Where we differ is we probably offer a little more comprehensive services for social services, some outreach services, more in-depth health education programming onsite than your regular doctor’s office.”
Providing both preventative care and treatment for individuals and families, CAHN’s services include an onsite laboratory, routine gynecologic care, school and employment physicals, immunizations, high blood pressure treatment, diabetes management, and more. Their standards place importance on educating clients to care for themselves after the visit and obtaining prompt follow-up. In addition, the Vernon J. Harris location features a dental facility that employs two full time dentists and part time staff to provide a range of dental services including emergency visits, fluoride, cleaning, and scaling treatments, cosmetic and restorative dentistry. In conjunction with the Virginia Department of Health, CAHN also operates a full-service mobile dental unit called Richmond Smiles. Info at 253-1972
And Causey says CAHN is committed to helping clients to provide affordable methods of payment, including a sliding scale fee system for co-payments, prescriptions, and other costs. “We stand in the gap in many cases. We’re seeing more and more of that,” he says. “Seventy seven percent of our patients are currently uninsured now. We meet a need that is definitely growing.”
CAHN strives to be “culturally responsive,” according to Causey. “Recognizing the diverse culture that we live in, we respond to all of the folks we serve. Whether they be African American, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, we definitely have representation on staff for all those cultures, and all of our literature and all of our practices are geared toward the individual. We definitely try to ascertain your cultural background and we try to plan a treatment plan that fits your cultural background so that it’s a little easier to comply with. We certainly try to work with the individual within their cultural upbringing.”
The Mental Health Program employs a staff Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and Licensed Clinical Social Workers to help clients identify the signs and treatment of depression. In addition, they address stress management, coping skills, anxiety, and more. Call 253-1994
The Gift of healthcare: CAHN offers gift cards to help pay for their services. Call 780-0840
Tax-deductible Donations: “As you’re making your designations on where to give, keep us in mind. Your gift goes back to the patient here. If you give $100, we are going to serve at least four people,” according to Causey.
Vernon J. Harris Medical Center, 719 N. 25th St. 780-0840
Main Street Medical Center, 2025 E. Main St. 591-2890
Northside Medical Center, 2809 North Ave. Suite 206, 525-1800
Glenwood Medical Center, 2711 Byron St. 525-1818
Diabetes Action Training Program (DART) is an innovative partnership between CAHN and the Central Foodbank of Virginia. In this peer-led, 6-week workshop, Nutritionist Alice Freeman shares information about diabetes, and healthful recipes. Thanks to gifts from the Food Bank, participants take home the ingredients to make dishes at home, and there is a follow-up support group.
by Cesca Janece Waterfield