The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 27, 2013

Shot in the arm


The Register-Herald

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In West Virginia, there are several rural areas that don’t have the same access to health care that areas of larger populated cities enjoy.

Marsh Fork is one such area.

The area tucked in the western corner of Raleigh County did get a brand new elementary school, which was dedicated last week. That will serve the area’s education purposes very well.

But in the initial plans for the school, a community health clinic was to be incorporated in the facility.

Unfortunately, the clinic portion was abandoned due to funding issues as construction moved forward.

The good news is, apparently the structure was still built with the possibility of annexing a clinic at a later date.

Sen. Joe Manchin brought up the issue of a rural health clinic for the Marsh Fork area at the school during the dedication ceremony, calling it an “ideal place” for one, while also vowing, “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we have a rural health clinic working out of the school.”

School-based clinics have been established at other area schools, and they have proved to be very successful.

AccessHealth opened a new clinic at Beckley-Stratton Middle School last year which also serves Beckley Elementary School. With existing clinics at the Academy of Careers and Technology/Woodrow Wilson High School, also sponsored by AccessHealth, and Independence High School and Coal City Elementary School, sponsored by New River Health Association, Raleigh County now has four.

New River Health and Rainelle Medical Center also have a presence in 10 schools throughout Fayette, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties.

As of December 2012, there were 75 school-based health centers in West Virginia serving 94 schools in 28 counties.

Officials have touted all of the great things about the new Marsh Fork Elementary School, and they’re right. But they also need to find a way to get a school-based clinic established there to really complete the picture.

The sooner the better.

Manchin views it as a place for a community clinic, not just for students, but getting it up for the students to start off would be a great starting point.

There’s no question, it will be a real shot in the arm for western Raleigh County citizens.