Access for all in the Mountains

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Blue Ridge Health offers access to affordable, virtual care


With hundreds of thousands of newly unemployed residents in the state, people are facing the loss of benefits usually provided by their employers. Blue Ridge Health (BRH) has offered universal access to comprehensive care for everyone in Western North Carolina (WNC) for over 55 years. For anybody with or without insurance, there is an option for medical, dental, behavioral health, discount pharmacy and more. BRH operates 28 practices across eight counties in WNC. Sliding fee discounts are available based on income and household size, and no one is ever turned away for an inability to pay.

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“We feel strongly that the loss of insurance and the spread of Covid-19 should not cause folks to delay care. There are options in the mountains for people to get the care they need, whether insured or not,” said Dr. Richard Hudspeth, CEO for BRH, “And it’s arguably more important than ever that we have an ongoing conversation with our medical and behavioral health providers.”

BRH has an expanded network of virtual care opportunities available for all insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the uninsured. Accessing care from home is especially important given the spread of Covid-19, and the trend toward virtual care is something BRH has been preparing for over the years.

New patients are now being accepted across all service lines. Register as a patient, if not already registered, and set up an appointment over the phone. Once scheduled, an email or text message will be sent providing simple instructions and a link. Click the link at your appointment time and your doctor will appear on your screen.

A virtual visit takes place via video or phone using a smartphone, tablet or computer. Once the visit is finished, notes and referrals are provided for the patient just like an in-person appointment. If needed, prescriptions are electronically routed to a BRH pharmacy or other preferred location. In many cases, BRH pharmacies are able to offer free delivery.

“Universal access to virtual care is critical during this cautious period,” said Dr. MaryShell Zaffino, Chief Medical Officer for BRH. “There are a lot of patients across the mountains that have chronic illnesses, a need for mental health, or they don’t have insurance, and we want them to know we’re here for them. We are a comprehensive primary care medical home, available for anybody and everybody.”

Patients should practice safe social distancing, but not at the expense of their health, so BRH wants to make it known that no matter your income, insurance status, or level of need, they have services available for all.

Patients in need of care – routine or urgent – or those concerned they may been exposed to Covid-19 and are experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath are encouraged to access virtual services as well.

If you would like more information about Blue Ridge Health, call 828-692-4289 or visit


Submitted by Lee Homan