CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A group of Mingo County residents campaigning to expand a community health center in Williamson received a boost Thursday when they were awarded an $800,000 federal grant.
The grant would go toward expanding the Williamson Health and Wellness Center, a clinic providing services at no charge or at a reduced cost. Williamson officials announced Thursday that they had secured a license to expand the center. The center would now be federally licensed, allowing staff to see thousands of additional patients.
The clinic's expansion is the pinnacle of work done by Sustainable Williamson, a group of people and organizations trying to improve the county's overall physical health and economic climate.
A news conference was held Thursday to promote Sustainable Williamson as one of 12 finalists for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Roadmaps to Health Prize. Up to six of the finalists may receive a $25,000 cash prize if they meet the foundation's criteria of finding community-based solutions to health problems.
Williamson Mayor Darrin McCormick and other Sustainable Williamson members led Robert Wood Johnson Foundation judges on a tour Thursday. Their tour included a look at the city gym, a visit to the Williamson Farmer's Market venue and a trip to the local fitness center.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Sen. Joe Manchin and Rep. Nick Rahall, all D-W.Va., announced the federal funding at a news release. The money also would provide about $704,000 to Community Care of West Virginia, in Upshur County.
"This funding is so important because it will boost the health-care services provided by two important community health centers -- and, in turn, that's going to boost the foundation we have in West Virginia to support and maintain a healthier population," Rockefeller said in a news release.
Manchin and Rahall echoed similar statements.
"This funding will go a long way toward addressing the unmet health-care needs of our region, while boosting local employment and economic growth," Rahall said in the release.
The total $1,516,667 in federal funding comes from the Affordable Care Act through the Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration (HHS/HRSA) Health Access Point Grant Program.
Reach Travis Crum at travis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.