WVSOM, partners awarded $100K grant to advance health equity in Greenbrier County

The Greenbrier County Health Alliance, in partnership with the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine’s (WVSOM) Center for Rural and Community Health (CRCH), and a team of local and state partners, has been selected to participate in a national learning collaborative to advance health equity. As part of the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge, they will receive a $100,000 grant.

The alliance was one of 20 teams — selected from 100 submitted proposals from eight identified states — chosen to participate in the challenge, which is funded by the Aetna Foundation with the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties. The challenge’s goal is to support communities with populations of less than 600,000 that are changing the way they work together across sectors to reduce disparities in chronic disease outcomes.

The funding will allow the team to strengthen food access and health care systems in Greenbrier County and to engage community residents as leaders in their work during the two-year initiative.

“We will address two priorities throughout the challenge. One will be to increase the ability of local residents to easily access healthy, local food by improving and sustaining local food systems. The other will be to increase the ability of local residents to achieve better health and improve access to health services by strengthening clinic-community connections and building an architecture of community-based, community-owned, evidence-based health promotion programs,” said Sally Hurst, CRCH director of outreach programs and Greenbrier County Health Alliance executive director.

West Virginia is the third most rural state in the nation, and 91 percent of the state’s counties are medically underserved areas where access to health care is a concern. The Greenbrier County team will take steps to advance health equity in the county, especially in the Meadow River Valley area.

“Both this challenge initiative and our work as the Greenbrier County Health Alliance are about health equity: working with communities to strengthen systems, environments and policies so that everyone has the opportunity to reach their best health, no matter where they live,” said Julian Levine, outreach director at WVSOM’s Clingman Center for Community Engagement and assistant director of the Greenbrier County Health Alliance. “We plan to focus a majority of our efforts with this initiative in the Meadow River Valley. It’s such a great opportunity to bring positive national attention and resources to highlight and build on existing momentum in communities across Greenbrier County."

Proposed strategies for the Greenbrier County challenge will build from successful activities already implemented locally as well as develop new activities in coordination with the challenge team and local communities.

The team plans to support further development on the former Rupert Elementary School campus, including the Meadow River Valley Early Childhood Learning Center (Marvel Center), to invest in chronic disease self-management programs and to support and strengthen local food systems.

“Reducing health inequities is important because health and wellness are fundamental human rights,” said Drema Mace, Ph.D., MSP, WVSOM’s vice president for community engagement and development and the executive director of the CRCH. “The Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge opportunity will help us eliminate inequalities that affect health status so individuals in our community can enjoy life and pursue their life plans.”

Twelve organizations plan to partner in the Greenbrier County initiative including the Greenbrier County Health Alliance, WVSOM’s CRCH, the Greenbrier County Commission, the Meadow River Valley Early Childhood Learning Center, the West Virginia University Office of Health Services Research, Fruits of Labor, Rainelle Medical Center, the Robert C. Byrd Clinic, WVU Extension – Greenbrier County, the Meadow River Valley Association, Greenbrier Valley Medical Center and farmers in Greenbrier County.

The team will develop a specific challenge plan in August, with help from the National Association of Counties, to submit to the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge program in September.

The Greenbrier County Health Alliance is a nonprofit partner of WVSOM’s CRCH, staffed and supported by the CRCH with nonprofit oversight from a community board of local leaders. The alliance works to strengthen systems, policy and environments to advance health equity through grants management, partnerships and collaborations.


Date Added: 
Friday, July 31, 2020