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South River Medical Clinic in Grottoes closes after 10 years

GROTTOES, Va. (WHSV) – The town of Grottoes is losing its only medical facility. The South River Medical Clinic is closing after 10 years of providing medical services to residents of the town.

The clinic last opened its doors to patients on Friday. It will remain open for the next few weeks to allow patients to obtain their medical records and pick up any remaining prescriptions.

“They just showered me with good wishes and they’ll miss me. It’s so nice to know you’ve had an impact on their lives,” said Mary Koogler, clinic owner and nurse practitioner.

Koogler worked in the emergency room and orthopedics for more than three decades before having a major stroke in 2010. Two years later, in 2012, she opened the South River Medical Clinic and provided an invaluable resource to Grottoes and the surrounding community.

“She had this big stroke and couldn’t use a side, couldn’t speak, and to see what she’s done and the people she’s cared for since, it’s really exciting to see. be a part,” Jennifer said. Hanger, a registered nurse who has worked at the clinic since it opened.

After 10 years, Koogler, 77, is retiring to spend more time with his family.

“My husband got sick this year and he had surgery and I decided that here I take care of others, I have to take care of my own. So I started thinking about it and I decided there was no more time, but now,” Koogler said.

Koogler knows there is a huge need for the Grottoes clinic and tried to find someone to take it over, but had no luck.

“People don’t want to go to family medicine anymore, they want to go to big institutions where they can make a lot of money. You don’t make a lot of money in a small practice like this. It’s a working-class town, a lot of my patients don’t have insurance,” she said.

The clinic has been busy over the years and its regular clients are sad to see it go.

“It meant a lot. I mean, I can’t tell you how many patients have come up and said, ‘Can’t someone take over?’ and I’m going to miss them, that was special,” said Brandi West, the clinic’s X-ray technician who had worked there since it opened.

Over the years, Koogler and its staff have provided a variety of medical services such as x-rays, vaccinations, lab tests and various treatments.

“It’s personal care. I’m more than a number, I’m a person and she always treated me well. She knows me by my first name, we know each other’s families, it’s just hometown comfort,” said Angie Harpine, who has been a patient at the clinic for 10 years.

Harpine said she adores Koogler and the rest of the staff and will miss the clinic very much.

“She has done a great service to the medical community of Harrisonburg, Augusta County and Rockingham County for a long time, from her time as an emergency room nurse until today. I just wish him well, I feel like I lost a friend,” Harpine said.

Brandi West and Jennifer Hanger said the staff are like family and they’re both grateful for everything they’ve learned from Koogler.

“I have an emergency and critical care background and learned so much from family care that I never thought possible,” Hanger said. “I learned so much that I never knew anything about drugs, anything other than x-rays and now I feel like I have a great knowledge to go out there and share,” West added.

As Koogler retires to spend more time with her family, she says she will miss the people she served the most, some of whom she has watched grow up over the past decade.

“Seeing different family members and meeting their needs. You know it’s always rewarding to be able to help someone and to know that you’ve done something good for them,” she said.

Grottoes Town Manager Stephanie McAllister told WHSV that the town is sad to see the South River Medical Clinic close and hopes to bring another clinic to town in the future.

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