Carroll County health care clinic accepts other forms of payment instead of money

A daughter, her mother, and grandmother join forces to bring medical care to a rural part of southwest Virginia. 

It's a place where people have a hard time getting and paying for good health services.

This family of nurse practitioners is doing something very different.

75-year-old nurse practitioner Dee Everhart has earned the right to retire, but that's not happening anytime soon.

On July 1, Virginia law changed, allowing nurse practitioners to open their own practices without an attending physician on site. It’s a huge deal to those who live in the deep country, where the nearest doctor can be hours away.

"I mean in order to get any type of health care they would have to go up the mountain or into North Carolina and there wasn't anything local,” nurse practitioner Carole Everhart said. “For me it wasn't about the money, it's more of the being able to do what I do, which is practice advanced nursing and provide quality affordable convenient health care."

This new ''nurse practitioner-run" clinic opened July 16. It’s the only one of its kind in Virginia.

Since then, without any advertising because there's no money for it, these three women, from three different generations, have seen more than 200 patients in a 1,500-square-foot office that sits quietly on a country acre.

"There's a physician up on the mountain that I can call him at home and say ‘I have this problem what do you think I ought to do?’ And he gets no reimbursement or anything. I mean he just does it out of the goodness of his heart and when I call the specialist they're the same way," nurse practitioner Dee Everhart said.

The Everhart Primary Health Care Clinic is different. Every visit there costs $40. If you don't have the money to pay that's ok, you're going to pay anyway. You know how to mow a lawn? Can you push a broom? Do you have chickens or eggs? Just about anything you can do, they will take as payment to pay off your debt."

The Everhart's do not take private insurance or Medicare or Medicaid. It's cash, debit or credit card, or something to make a salad.

“We got garden veggies from one of our patients and it's great. I remember growing up and getting paid in country ham and moonshine!," Carol Everhart said.

The Everharts say they need to see 12 to 15 patients a day just to break even.