Sheltering Arms to stop providing psychological and physician services later this year

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)— Hundreds of people who receive outpatient physician or psychology care at Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Associates will have to look for another practice.

A letter sent in March to over 3,000 patients in the SAPRA community, said the non-profit will no longer offer psychology or physician services after October 31, 2021.

However, this does not change the inpatient physical rehabilitation services offered by Sheltering Arms Institute or the outpatient therapies and wellness programs provided by Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Centers.

The hospital and the outpatient therapy clinics will remain in operation, according to the letter.

Dianne Jewell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sheltering Arms Corporation and Hospitals, said the Board of Directors and executive staff evaluated the performance of all of their services in 2019.

They made a decision to cut their psychology and physician services because of “increasing and financial challenges in healthcare.” The letter goes on to say, “sustaining a small physician and psychology practice group is no longer feasible.”

“Insurance companies don’t like to pay us for what we do, but the pandemic really put a pin in it for us,” she said.

Jewell said seven physicians and two psychologists will be affected by this change.

“Small practices of any kind are having a hard time because healthcare finance is difficult,” she said.

Over 570 patients currently receiving care with the nonprofit will also be affected. However, Jewell said they have a list of other practices on their website that may be accepting new patients. 

Erin Barlow, a patient at Sheltering Arms Physical Rehab Centers for over 18 years, said she tried other local practices and wasn’t successful.

“It’s a safe place to go when you feel miserable and know you’re going to get better,” she said.

Barlow was involved in a car accident which led to chronic pain in her neck. She said her primary care provider referred her to Sheltering Arms in 2001.

“It’s devastating,” Barlow said.

Now, Barlow has to search for another practice or she may follow her doctor to their next location.

“I don’t know what’s to come honestly because there’s just not another group like this in town,” she said.

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