Thu December 08, 2022

By Jeff Smithpeters

Hope's Wadley Rural Health Clinic has served area patients since 1994

Dr. Dale Goins (left) with Nurse Practitioner Tammy Wellman. Both practice at the Wadley Rural Health Clinic in Hope.

The Wadley Rural Health Clinic, located on 302 Bill Clinton Drive in Suite B, has been operating in Hope since 1994, when then Medical Park Hospital opened five such clinics in Southwest Arkansas. Four of those have closed over the years since, but, as Dr. Dale Goins, the physician in charge at Hope’s Wadley RHC said, “It turned out that our clinic is the only one that continued.”

The clinic started in a location just across from then Medical Park’s emergency room. The hospital was purchased by Wadley after a year and the Rural Health Clinic was renamed the Wadley Rural Health Clinic and then moved to its present place soon after that.

The original mission of the RHC was, according to Goins, to provide medical “access for people with difficulty travelling to Texarkana.”  Goins said the clinic, which is currently seeing about 25 patients a day, treats anyone past the age of two, leaving the infants to the pediatricians. But if they can toddle, they can be treated at Wadley RHC. The clinic is also a Medicare and Medicaid treatment provider.

Goins came to Hope in 1980 to joint practice with Dr. Lowell Harris. His own specialty is geriatrics, while Nurse Practitioner Tammy Wellman, born and raised in Hope, practices alongside Goins in Family Medicine.

Asked about the triple threat of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, influenza and COVID that has circulated in the United States the past several months, Goins said of the three, he sees more influenza patients and the number of COVID patients has dropped off over the past two months.  He is also seeing more presentations of strep throat recently. Wellman said she had diagnosed a COVID patient Wednesday morning, but lately had seen “way more flu and strep.”

As for RSV, the clinic does not see as many cases because their youngest patients are age two or above. RSV is more severe in infants and older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s website on the virus.

Dr. Goins’ advice to the public right now is to stay home if you become ill. The low incidence of flu over the year after COVID first reached pandemic status was instructive that staying home helped prevent the spread of all infections.  “When people got sick,” Goins said, “they stayed home. This year, we are seeing more influenza but once again, if people stay home when they're sick, it won’t spread as bad.”

Wellman added a three-word piece of advice to stay well. “Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands,” she said. Goins said he advised the use of hand sanitizers.

Goins and Wellman’s experience recently at the clinic also seems to support the CDC’s recent statement that this year’s flu shot is a close match to the strain now circulating. Goins said, “Personally, I haven't seen anyone come in who had the flu shots down with flu. So that's usually a sign that it's pretty effective, and we do strongly encourage the flu shots.”

He attributes this year’s success to over 40 years experience of the medical community developing the flu shots. He said that over 42 years of medical practice that included him taking the flu shot yearly, he has only contracted flu twice. Wellman said she had it once in a year when she could not get the shot due to a shortage of the vaccine.

Goins is also the collaborative practice physician at the Pafford Clinic. He also collaborates with Nurse Practitioner Emma Bissell at Access Medical Clinic. Goins and Wellman also volunteer with Charitable Christian Medical Clinic.

Wadley Rural Health Clinic’s number for appointments is 870-777-8115, but it also takes appointments through its website.