Inadequate medical coverage brings job opportunities to WV - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Inadequate medical coverage brings job opportunities to West Virginia

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A new study from the West Virginia Rural Health Association and the Rural Health Research Center shows the state is lacking medical coverage in hard to reach areas.  This analysis marks the first step in enhancing health coverage and bringing jobs to rural parts of West Virginia.

"We are looking.  We are looking to make sure that we get healthcare providers out to the community, and that when they have a need, there will be someone who can fill that need," says Patricia Crawford, Co-Chair of the WV Rural Health Association Workforce Project.

The association reports that 50 out of West Virginia's 55 counties have a shortage in health care professionals or are medically under-served.  The study examined the density of physicians, physician's assistants, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, and dental hygienists per 10,000 people in West Virginia compared to the national average. 

"We can take this data and look at which areas are more under-served.  Then we hope from this point to develop a steering committee and a task force of representation of a broader spectrum of people around the state who can then identify what are some of the outcomes and strategies get providers to these more under-served areas," says Crawford.

Researchers say coal field areas, like McDowell County, are where people are suffering the most. 

With the affordable health care act, the organization is trying to recruit medical professionals to the area to assist with the growing demand. 

"We have a heart.  We want people to come here and stay here and provide health care for our rural constituents of West Virginia.  So that they'll stay here and live here and have great health coverage," says Shawn Balladeer, Rural Health Conference Director.

To start addressing the need and celebrate National Rural Health Day, the association is holding a recruiting event Thursday, November 15 from 2:00-6:30 p.m. in The Resort at Glade Springs with a reception following until 7:30 p.m.

Hopefully for some in health care, that'll mean coming home.

"The big cities do have a big draw because there's more to do, but to have a nice, decent, safe life, they want these rural areas and the rural homes they grew up in, so a lot of them are coming back, and hopefully it will help spur on… providing health care in these dire places that really need it," says Balleydier.

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