History of Eastern Shore Rural Health System, Inc.

  • The first center opened in Onley in 1976.

We became a reality in 1975 when a group of concerned citizens had a vision and mission to improve the health care available on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. We received a Rural Health Initiative Grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), selected a Board of Directors, and were incorporated by the state in 1976 as Accomack Rural Health Systems, Inc. Recognizing the need to provide health care in both counties, the Board of Directors changed the name of the corporation to Eastern Shore Rural Health System, Inc. in 1978.

  • Chincoteague Island Center opened in 1977.

Along with the Chincoteague Kiwanis Club and our Board, we established a medical center on Chincoteague Island.

  • Atlantic Center opened in 1981.
  • Children’s Health Center (later Franktown Community Health Center) opened in 1984.
  • Bayview Center opened in 1985.
  • New 5,000 square-foot Atlantic center opened in 1987.
  • New 4,000 square foot Franktown Children’s Health Center opened in 1990.
  • Dental Services offered to Accomack County Public School students beginning in 1993.

In 1992 the dire need for affordable accessible dental care for children was identified when a survey of school children spearheaded by the Accomack County Public Schools and the Virginia Department of Dental Health revealed 70 percent of the children attending ACPS never sat in a dental chair. A fully equipped mobile dental trailer was purchased and put in place to provide restorative and preventive dental care to ACPS students in 1993.

  • Onley Center moved into the Market Street facility in 1994.
  • Permanent Pungoteague Elementary dental facility opened in 1995.

The mobile unit acquired in 1993 then served ACPS’ Kegotank and Metompkin Elementary schools from 1995 through 2000. Northampton County Public Schools added its first dental site, which we staffed, at Kiptopeke Elementary School in the mid-nineties.

  • Expanded Services to Include Migrant Population in 1996.

We received a grant, renovated a facility in Nassawadox and began seeing patients. (The Nassawadox building later served as corporate headquarters until the move to Onancock.) Our services were expanded to include translation, pharmacy, outreach, transportation and extended hours to better serve the needs of this population. At the end of the first season we realized we needed to integrate the migrant services into all of our centers. Integration began during the 1998 season. HRSA funding is received to support this community.

  • Updated our logo and color scheme, and uniformly changed the centers’ names to Community Health Centers in 1997.
  • Permanent Metompkin Elementary dental facility opened in 2000.
  • Northampton County Public Schools opened its second dental site at Occohannock Elementary School, which we staffed, in 2001.

In August of 2005, NCPS decided to take full ownership of the school dental program in their county. We pulled out of Kiptopeke and Occohannock dental sites.

  • Franktown started seeing adult dental patients in 2001.
  • Return to Chincoteague Island Community Health Center in 2002.

We once again became the tenant for this medical facility in partnership with the Kiwanis.

  •  Franktown Community Health Center started seeing adult medical patients in 2003.
  • New practice management system and electronic health records implemented across all of our medical facility locations in 2008.
  • New Onley Community Health Center 20,000 square-foot facility, our current Onley facility, opened in 2010.
  • The Traveling Oral Health Program, or TOPs, starts in 2012.

Our traveling dental team performs exams, gives cleanings and fluoride treatments, takes x-rays and applies sealants to protect teeth using portable equipment. The TOPs program currently serves Accawmacke and Kegotank Elementary Schools and Arcadia Middle School in Accomack County and Occohannock Elementary in Northampton County.

  • New 19,806 square-foot Atlantic center, our current Atlantic facility, including dental services opened in 2013.
  • The Corporate Office moved to Onancock in 2014.

The original corporate facility was in Onancock, then moved to Nassawadox in 1999, and back to Onancock in the former Onley Community Health Center facility in 2014.

  •  All medical locations attain the highest Patient Centered Medical Home status from the National Committee for Quality Assurance in 2015.
  •  Bayview and Franktown medical services consolidate into 22,706 sq. ft. Eastville Community Health Center in 2020. Dental and behavioral health services offered at Eastville.

Franktown center remains open as a dental only facility. Franktown is also where our call center is located and some corporate functions are housed there. We began our own behavioral health program in 2020. Prior to that time, mental health services were offered via partnerships with other organizations.

  • Changed our logo and color scheme to depict the region we serve where the land meets the sea in 2022.
  • Permanent dental location at Nandua Middle School opens in 2022.
  • Permanent Kiptopeke Elementary dental location opens in 2022.

In the fall of 2021 the NCPS School Board approved an agreement with us to once again provide dental services. Plans call for permanent units at Kiptopeke and Occohannock Elementary Schools and Northampton High/Middle School. Services are delivered via our Traveling Oral Health Program at schools currently without a permanent dental unit.

  •   Express Care opened in May 2023.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia’s first urgent care opened at Four Corner Plaza in Onley.

  •  Atlantic Community Pharmacy opened in June 2023.

We purchased H&H Pharmacy in Oak Hall and opened our first pharmacy in July 2023. The pharmacy in our Eastville center is a privately owned independent pharmacy.

Coming soon!

Rural Health will open its second pharmacy at our Onley Community Health Center in late 2023 – early 2024.