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Valley Regional closing year-old clinic in Charlestown

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/11/2020 9:55:09 PM
Modified: 8/11/2020 9:55:04 PM

CHARLESTOWN — Due to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Valley Regional Healthcare will not reopen its Main Street clinic.

Valley Regional opened its Charlestown clinic after Labor Day last year. It was open seven days a week and offered urgent care and some imaging services for about five months before it closed in mid-March, said Valley Regional interim CEO Deanna Howard. Last Friday, Valley Regional announced it had made the temporary closure permanent.

“We just need to most efficiently pool our resources,” Howard said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Closing the Charlestown location allows Valley Regional to focus on its Claremont location, Howard said. The hospital, like others around the region, has struggled under financial losses due to postponing elective procedures during the early part of the pandemic, she said.

The New Hampshire Hospital Association has said hospitals across the state lost $575 million between March and July. Federal relief through the CARES Act has covered $300 million of those losses. Howard said she’s hopeful more federal relief will come through.

Closing the Charlestown clinic also helps Valley Regional to conserve personal protective equipment and manage staff resources efficiently, she said. The Charlestown clinic had a nurse practitioner and a medical assistant on site seven days a week.

“Health care workers are a commodity and a precious one,” Howard said. “We’re short staffed and we needed them (in Claremont).”

Having enough employees in Claremont is necessary for Valley Regional, which has 340 employees, to continue to adapt its services to the demands of the pandemic. This week, Valley Regional expanded its COVID-19 testing effort working under a state contract. A testing site operated by the New Hampshire National Guard at the Claremont Middle School has closed.

And the future is uncertain.

“Who knows what’s going to happen?” Howard said. “ ... We always have to be ready to turn on a dime to go back to surge.”

Howard said she is confident that despite the clinic’s closing, the Charlestown community will still have access to health services. Springfield (Vt.) Medical Care Systems continues to operate the Charlestown Health Center on CEDA Road, which is open seven days and offers primary care, outpatient counseling, minor skin surgeries, women’s health services, sports medicine and planned diabetic visits.

Springfield Hospital is just seven miles away and Valley Regional in Claremont is about 12 miles from Charlestown.

Though SMCS and Springfield Hospital entered chapter 11 bankruptcy last summer in an effort to deal with $20 million in debt, SMCS plans to continue providing services in Charlestown.

“We are open and plan to continue all of our services to each of the communities we serve,” said Joshua Dufresne, SMCS’s acting CEO, in a Tuesday email.

Last year, prior to the pandemic, Valley Regional closed a rehabilitation practice and a primary care practice it had previously operated in Newport.

“I knew the Newport people we needed here more,” Howard said.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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