The Wyoming County School Board ended a memorandum of understanding with the Tug River Health Association, a non-profit group, that reportedly receives government support and does not pay taxes in the county.
Mike Davis, board member, said the project had evolved into something other than what he had voted to approve and had begun to impact private businesses in the county.
Tug River's mobile unit, purchased with a government grant, was supposed to serve children in remote areas who didn't have access to health services, such as immunizations and wellness checks, Davis explained, and the market was supposed to be so small it would not impact private businesses.
The project was to serve children in the Huff Consolidated, Herndon Consolidated, and Road Branch areas.
Davis said he'd received several phone calls concerning the mobile unit, noting that it had been expanded into Oceana and Mullens, where services are readily available, and that adults were also being treated on the mobile unit.
Davis said one of the callers had indicated they were just beginning a small practice and the mobile unit was impacting that business.
He said one of the callers termed the use of the mobile unit “unfair.”
“That resonated with me,” he said.
Davis said he'd invited the callers to attend the board meeting to talk with the entire board, but they didn't appear Monday.
However, Drs. Sam Muscari Sr., Mike Muscari, and Anthony Flaim, of Family Healthcare Associates, did attend to talk with the board.
Deirdre Cline, Wyoming County Schools superintendent, said the county Health Department staff was concerned they would be unable to complete all the needed immunizations before school begins due to the pandemic and that is the reason the mobile unit services were expanded.
John Henry, student services director, said they had requested a waiver from the state so that students didn't have to receive the required immunizations before school begins, but state officials wouldn't budge.
The mobile unit seemed to provide the answer to providing the immunizations, according to schools officials.
Henry said school nurses are still contacting parents about obtaining the required immunizations prior to the beginning of school.
Mike Muscari told the board that Family Healthcare serves four counties, with six locations, three of which are in Wyoming County.
“We are the largest private health care group in southern West Virginia,” he said.
He emphasized the offices administer tens of thousands of immunizations each year and are ready and available to provide whatever services children in Wyoming County need.
“We can handle anything,” he emphasized. “That's what we do.”
Prichard said, for years, Family Healthcare physicians have provided physicals for school athletes.
“We've been very supportive of this board of education and will continue to be,” he emphasized.
Muscari said the group could compete with anybody, but they would ask for a level playing field.
“I'd love to have access to your facilities and your resources,” he told board members.
The mobile unit schedule was announced through the schools' numerous social media outlets and its information app.
Cline emphasized the only objective of the project was to provide needed services to children, nothing more.
“The intention was one thing,” Davis said of his vote to approve the project, “that evolved into something else...
“This should not evolve into taking away business from people who are paying taxes..., the businesses that are supporting us.”