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Dr. Ashley Perrott

The most impactful aspect of the new clinic Novant Health is opening in Winston-Salem is the ZIP code it’s serving, said Dr. Ashley Perrott, a family physician with Novant Health Salem Family Medicine and senior physician executive for the Community Health and Wellness Institute.

Winston-Salem’s 27105 is 58% African American, 19% Latino and 19% white. Its residents have the highest concentration of chronic disease in Forsyth County, with high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol being among the most prevalent.

“These conditions contribute mightily to chronic health conditions that can lead to a diminished quality of life and premature death,” Perrott said.

The average family income in 27105 is significantly less than the national average of $70,000. Nearly 30% of residents live below the poverty line — about double the rate elsewhere in Winston-Salem.

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So, the new Intergenerational Center for Arts and Wellness Center that Senior Services, Inc. and partners are opening is a bonus for the neighborhood. Senior Services is a nonprofit designed “to help older adults remain at home for as long as possible and to help age with dignity and live with purpose.”

“We’re in a unique location,” said T. Lee Covington, Senior Services’ president and CEO. “To the west is one of the most affluent areas in the city. To the east and south are historically marginalized populations … living with limited resources.”

It’s also a food desert, so access to fresh produce is often challenging. The new center directly addresses that issue. “We love that the food bank is partnered with us,” said Perrott. “This building amplifies our ability to talk about choosing fresh fruits and vegetables over starches. After we have that conversation with a patient, we can refer them around the corner to … easily access those foods.”

Novant Health’s clinic will occupy 2,800 square feet of the 62,500 square foot center, located on a 10-acre campus that has three entrances – from Shorefair Drive, W. 30th Steet and Millbrook Drive. Take a virtual tour.

Not just for seniors

Despite Senior Services leading this effort, the center is not just for people 60 and older, Perrott said.

“The Intergenerational Center for Arts and Wellness is a community resource for all,” she said. “Senior Services owns the building, but they’ve been very clear that the center is for everyone.”

Among other services, the building offers:

  • An adult day center
  • A primary care clinic (appointments should be made in advance)
  • Same-day sick care through the primary care clinic

Novant Health led a community needs assessment that showed comprehensive diabetic care is a tremendous need in the area. So, diabetes education (and medication), nutrition counseling and limb preservation will be among services offered.

“A large risk factor for vascular disease and amputation is diabetes control,” Perrott said. “A lot of patients in this area suffer after an amputation and don’t have easy access to follow-up care.”

All the healthcare services offered are aimed at attacking the chronic conditions plaguing many in this area. Novant Health’s team at the new center is prepared. A lot of research has gone into identifying the biggest health concerns, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, in this population.

The clinic will open in November and operate weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to serve patients – pediatric, adult and geriatric – regardless of their ability to pay.

Overcoming resistance

Novant Health has been working for several years to address the social determinants of health that prevent many people of color from attaining their best health. For instance, next year Novant Health will expand care to men at Novant Health Today’s Adult Primary Care clinic in the nearby Boston-Thurmond neighborhood, another historically underserved corner of the city. (The clinic currently serves women and children.)

So, Novant Health is an ideal partner in this venture, as well. In addition to joining Senior Services in this revolutionary effort, Novant Health donated $750,000 to the Senior Services Creative Connections Capital Campaign to help get the center off the ground.

The new clinic is a state-of-the-art safe space. This patient population may be skeptical of the healthcare establishment – and leaders understand that they have to address that skepticism and fear. One way of doing that: co-locating other agencies and services on the same campus.

“We need to overcome resistance,” Covington said. “And that takes time. We hope people will show up here for an art or dance class and then discover there’s a doctor in the building and decide to return to get care.”

The power of partners

Novant Health is one of 21 partners at the center. “Each one brings their own core constituents along,” Covington said. And the fact that all 21 are at the same place means it’s convenient for people who may not have their own transportation. It’s also on the bus route, which helps with access.

In addition to Novant Health, other partners include Winston-Salem State University, providing occupational and physical therapy education, therapeutic recreation, social work, health care management and more; Family Services, which enrolls more than 600 children (ages birth to five) in its child development programs; and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, which is establishing a satellite clinic and research space led by physicians from the Sticht Center for Healthy Aging and Alzheimer’s Prevention.

HandsOn NWNC, Second Harvest’s Providence, the Hispanic League and Sawtooth School for Visual Art will also be located at the center, along with 12 other local nonprofits which will use about 20,000 square feet of shared space.

Covington hopes it feels like a “one-stop shop.”

“We can connect people to more than just what they initially came for,” he said. “Being in the same space allows us to introduce people to other providers in real time. We can make immediate connections, and that’s crucial for individuals and families in crisis.”

In addition to the healthcare clinic, Novant Health will use a significant amount of shared space in the center. The 2,650-square-foot Gallery Theatre will open in this month and host, among other events, a Healthy Living Speaker Series beginning in January. That’s a free monthly program in which Novant Health experts will speak on health-related topics to educate the community.

As Perrott says, the greatest significance of this facility lies in its geography: “This is how we change lives one person at a time: by providing holistic care and focusing on a few disease states that affect the community – and in a place where they live. We’re not asking patients to travel far to a place they’re unsure of. And that matters. Patients want – and deserve – care in their own community.”

Novant Health clinic hours

Novant Health clinics operating within the Senior Services building – and the days they’re open – are:

Mondays: Diabetes

  • Novant Health Diabetes Management
  • P: 336-718-7500

Tuesdays: Heart & Vascular Institute

  • P: 336-277-2000

Wednesdays and Thursdays: Community Health and Wellness Institute

  • Novant Health Family Medicine Shorefair
  • P: 336-277-2680

Friday: Diabetes

  • Novant Health Diabetes & Nutrition
  • P: 336-277-1660

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