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VCU Health Tappahannock Hospital offers Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula patients the right care in the right place at the right time

On Jan. 1, 2021, Riverside Health System’s hospital in the Northern Neck and upper Middle Peninsula region of Virginia will join VCU Health System. 

VCU Health Tappahannock Hospital building exterior

As part of the agreement finalized in October, several related services — diagnostics, physical therapy, the Riverside physician practices in Tappahannock, Warsaw, Aylett and Callao, as well as Tappahannock Urgent Care (MD Express) — will also become part of VCU Health in 2021.

This means you might see “VCU Health” in front of the name of some of your local doctor’s offices and your local hospital. But aside from the name change, what does this really mean for patients in the Northern Neck and upper Middle Peninsula?

In short, you can expect the same great local care you have come to expect right in your backyard, along with expanded services connecting you to experts in specialized care at VCU Massey Cancer Center, VCU Health Pauley Heart Center and the VCU Medical Center.

We spoke to Dr. Richard Dunn, chief medical officer at VCU Health Tappahannock Hospital, and Dr. Tom Yackel, president of MCV Physicians, VCU Health’s faculty practice, about what these changes mean for you.

What does it mean for me, as a patient, that Tappahannock Hospital and the surrounding Riverside doctor's offices are now part of VCU Health?

Dr. Dunn: A major benefit of our two institutions coming together is better access to the local services we offer. In time, we hope to increase preventive care in our area, as we all know that prevention is the best way to improve health outcomes in our communities. 

Dr. Yackel: Another benefit is seamless access to services based in Richmond when you need them. Imagine you need a heart transplant. In the future, the care coordination between your local provider and our specialists based at the academic health system in downtown Richmond will be easier.

Which doctor’s offices are becoming a part of VCU Health?

Dr. Yackel: All of the local Riverside Medical Group practices will become part of VCU Health in 2021. This includes Riverside Surgical Specialists Tappahannock, Riverside Gastroenterology Specialists Tappahannock, Riverside Urology Specialists, Riverside Northern Neck Bone & Joint, Riverside Pain Management Specialists, Riverside Physical Therapy – Mt. Clement, Riverside Diagnostic Center – Mt. Clement, Riverside Tappahannock Emergency Physicians, Riverside Tappahannock Hospitalists, Riverside Tappahannock Cancer Care, Riverside Callao Medical Arts, Riverside King William Medical Center, Riverside Tappahannock Family Practice, Riverside Warsaw Medical Arts and Tappahannock Urgent Care (M.D. Express).

Can I still see my usual doctor?

Dr. Dunn: You can continue to see the same doctor you have come to count on. Over the next several months, we will add some providers and practices to increase the care we provide locally in our communities.

Will my doctor’s office still take my insurance?

Dr. Dunn: We are currently accepting the same insurance providers as before the transition.

Can I still access my electronic medical record?

Dr. Dunn: We know our patients love the connectivity and simplicity of the Epic Electronic Medical Record system. VCU Health is transitioning to the same system Riverside is currently using, which means you will not need to learn a new system.

Will I be able to see doctors who specialize in heart health, cancer and transplants at VCU Health Tappahannock Hospital?

Dr. Yackel: Yes. VCU Massey Cancer Center has been on-site for two years already, and other services will follow suit. Our VCU Health Pauley Heart Center will have an inpatient and outpatient presence in Tappahannock. VCU Health has many other specialties that can offer care to the community, using a combination of onsite providers, procedures and surgeries and some telehealth options.

What services will be offered at VCU Health Tappahannock Hospital that might not have been offered before?

Dr. Yackel: As we add more services locally, we will be able to offer more specialty procedures and services at Tappahannock in the future, particularly in cardiology.

That said, patients in need of some highly specialized services, like open-heart surgery or transplant, will continue to receive care at VCU Medical Center in Richmond. An academic medical center has all the resources these complex cases could possibly need on-site.

Dr. Dunn: The good news is that many services with high demand in the community are already offered at Tappahannock, such as chemotherapy, general surgery, orthopedics and cardiac diagnostic services. We will continue to provide these services to our patients.

What about potential new treatments available through clinical trials? Will I have access to those at VCU Health Tappahannock?

Dr. Yackel: We are working with our research clinicians to establish VCU Health Tappahannock as a site for clinical trials in the future. Offering access to cutting edge clinical trials is one of the ways that VCU Health can improve care in the community.

What else should the community know about this important milestone? 

Dr. Dunn: This is an exciting time for the health of our community. Building on what Riverside has done for the past 25 years, VCU Health will bring more services to our area and enhance access to highly specialized care for our patients. At the same time, we will continue to provide outstanding local care right here in the Northern Neck.

Dr. Yackel: I know that everyone at VCU Health, including the more than 1,000 clinicians in our practice plan, is honored to more deeply participate in serving the health needs of the Tappahannock community. It has been a warm welcome, and we can’t wait to work together with the Riverside Tappahannock team even more closely.