These days, the Charles Drew Community Health Center in Burlington has patients doing a double-take. They walk in, look around and wonder if they are in the right place.

“I just keep hearing everyone ask, ‘Is this the Charles Drew Center?” said Heather Miranda, director of health center. Miranda came to the center from the Piedmont Health Corporate Office, where she had been director of health services, in May, just after the month-long renovations were completed.

Charles Drew, one of eight community health centers operated by Piedmont Health, has the same mission it always had – providing its high quality, affordable care to residents of North Carolina. But it has a new look. Half of the 8,700-square-foot center has been renovated.

The renovations allow for substantial improvements:

  •  The front waiting room now has three windows and chairs where patients can talk to the receptionist privately before they go back to see their doctors. The room used to have two people behind plate glass windows. New chairs fill the waiting room and light flows through the glass doors.
  •  Three additional exam rooms were added for a complement of 15 exam rooms, meaning less wait time for patients and more space for doctors doing their medical examinations.
  • The pharmacy work space has been expanded so pharmacists can see more patients and fill more prescriptions in less time.
  • Space in the break room/conference room has been increased and a partition has been added so that both can have functions go on at the same time.
  • “The back work space has been divided into cubicles so that each staff member has his or her own private space and the overall flow with the new space is better”, said Samantha Smith, assistant center manager. She also notes an education room has been added.

Carl Taylor, Director of Pharmacy for Piedmont Health, is very proud that there is a private space to have conversations with patients and the pharmacist. “This new area will serve all patients – especially seniors – who may have questions about all of their medications,” Taylor stated.

“It’s nice, it’s pretty,” said one patient from Graham, waiting for a doctor on a recent visit with her son. She has been coming to Charles Drew for medical care for seven years. It saves her money and it’s not too far from her home.

“They’re going along faster,” the patient added. “I would normally come in and stand in line for 10 or 15 minutes. Now, I stand in line from three to five minutes. It’s not so congested anymore.”

Smith expects patients will see even more of an impact once winter rolls around when patient traffic increases.

The health center opened in 1996 and is named after Charles Drew, an African American surgeon who died after a car accident in Burlington, N.C., in 1950.

Plans for the renovations had been in works for five years, according to Miranda. Piedmont was waiting for a $400,000 federal grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to come through, she explained.

“Although it took quite a long time to have these renovations, it was worth the wait,” Miranda said. “The patients and staff are elated by the new changes!”



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