CEG’s Appalachian Partnership Fund will help local organizations reach at-risk and rural populations 

CHARLESTON, W. Va. – On March 3, 2022, the Community Education Group (CEG) announced the recipients of their Appalachian Partnership Fund, earmarked for local groups serving West Virginia’s most vulnerable and rural populations. CEG chose sixteen local organizations throughout West Virginia for their efforts to address COVID-19 and the HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and Substance Use Disorder syndemic.

CEG, along with the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute and West Virginia Rural Health Association, will host a 5:30 PM reception at the Four Points by Sheraton Charleston (Capitol City Suite C) to celebrate the work to combat the syndemic of hepatitis, HIV, and substance use in West Virginia. In addition, a virtual launch for awardees unable to attend the public event will be held on March 4, with special guest Dr. Ayne Amjad, Commissioner and State Health Officer for the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health.

“We’re pleased to announce a cohort of deserving grantees from across the state of West Virginia,” said CEG President and Founder A. Toni Young. “It’s our honor to partner with them and to support their exemplary work serving our communities.”

The recipients of the CEG Appalachian Partnership Fund (and county they serve) are: Milan Puskar Health Right (Monongalia), West Virginia Health Right (Kanawha), Beckley Health Right (Raleigh), Good Samaritan Free Health Care (Berkeley), Shenandoah Community Health (Berkeley), Covenant House (Kanawha), Community Connections, Inc. (Mercer), Wheeling Health Right (Ohio), The Martinsburg Initiative (Berkeley), The Healing House (Kanawha), Bright Futures Now (Kanawha), Anchor Medical, LLC (Raleigh), Jefferson County Community Ministries (Jefferson), Cabell County EMS (Cabell), The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (Kanawha), and Reset Incorporated (Marion).

“The West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute is pleased to join this event celebrating partnership and success related to syndemic and substance use response in our state,” said Dr. Susan Bissett, President of the WV DII. “Along with CEG grant announcements, we will share updates on projects and programs across the state that all three organizations are working on to make our communities safer and stronger.”

CEG funds will sponsor and promote events that deliver health services such as COVID-19 testing, COVID-19 vaccination, influenza vaccination, HIV testing, obtaining PPE, COVID-19 and HIV test kits, or wellness education. In addition, CEG monies fund efforts to underwrite county-wide healthcare services, such as supplementing nursing personnel costs, traveling to rural areas, and other measures to provide vital healthcare services to communities in need.

The $1 million partnership fund was made possible due to a CDC agreement with CEG to build the evidence base of effective interventions to improve vaccination coverage and identify and implement strategies to reduce disparities in vaccination coverage in rural and at-risk populations throughout West Virginia.

“Our partnership with the CDC is allowing us to make strides in the fight to improve the health and well-being of West Virginia’s most vulnerable residents. Our effort to identify and work with community groups statewide can become a community partnership model to replicate throughout Appalachia,” added Young. “We’re proud that all these grantees are still in the fight against COVID, more than two years since the pandemic began.”

List of Grantees and Funds Description

Outreach Grantees

Milan Puskar Health Right (MPHR) (Monongalia County)

Providing funds for a mobile van and staff to provide COVID, Influenza, HIV tests in Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Taylor, and Upshur counties.

West Virginia Health Right (Kanawha County)

Providing funds for a mobile van and staff to provide COVID, Influenza, HIV tests in Clay, Logan, Putnam, Roane, and Mingo counties.

Beckley Health Right (Raleigh County)

Beckley Health Right will offer remote testing for COVID-19, HIV, and HEP-C and offer Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations through their Community Care Outreach Program in Southern West Virginia.

Good Samaritan Free Health Care (GSFC) (Berkeley County)

The funding will provide charity health care, medications, diagnostics, medical supplies, preventative supplies, outreach, education, and training to the homeless, uninsured, and under-insured of the Eastern Panhandle. They will focus on Berkeley County and organizations that primarily support the homeless.

Shenandoah Community Health (SCH) (Berkeley County)

This project will increase the capacity of Shenandoah Community Health’s Special Purpose Clinic to combat hepatitis C in the state. SCH will hire a full-time care coordinator to focus on patients who have tested positive for hepatitis C and link them to health services.

Covenant House (Kanawha County)

Covenant House will hire a Support Specialist to locate and support individuals who are unstably housed and living with HIV to link them to health services, including the COVID vaccine.

Community Connections, Inc. (CCI) (Mercer County)

The goal of the COVID Rural Recovery Education and Outreach program is to foster community participation in developing an action plan to address COVID vaccination stigma within the substance use populations of Rural Appalachia. Once created, they will oversee a timely response plan, outreach and education focused on individuals within the target population who have not received a full COVID vaccination.

Wheeling Health Right (Ohio County)

This grant will allow WHR to hire two health care professionals who will dedicate 100% of their time to provide testing and vaccinations, thus allowing the Clinic to expand the hours to provide these services.

The Martinsburg Initiative (TMI) (Berkeley County)

TMI will spend the funds from this grant to employ a social worker working directly with Berkeley County Schools to support children and families in increasing awareness of trauma and substance use and linking families to the COVID 19 vaccine.

The Healing House (Kanawha County)

The Minority Impact Initiative will connect women of color to a holistic behavioral health support system that will help them identify and address the rootwork necessary to heal and move forward after trauma.

Bright Futures Now (Kanawha County)

Bright Futures Now, Inc. is requesting funds to ease the burden on West Virginia healthcare facilities by providing COVID-19 testing and vaccination outreach services to at least 250 individuals in Kanawha County.

Anchor Medical, LLC (Raleigh County)

Anchor Medical will set up a mobile outreach unit to travel between Raleigh, Wyoming, and Mercer counties in WV. The unit will provide COVID-19, Flu, Hepatitis, HIV testing, and COVID, Flu, Hepatitis A&B vaccinations.

Jefferson County Community Ministries (Jefferson County)

JCCM is seeking support to continue reducing and preventing homelessness, offsetting medical expenses, relieving economic harm to workers and households by providing financial and food assistance, and by continuing to operate an emergency shelter. In addition, they will partner with West Virginia University Medicine to link those in need of the COVID 19 vaccine to the shot.

Cabell County EMS (Cabell County)

Huntington Quick Response Team (QRT) proposes to utilize these funds to acquire and distribute fentanyl test strips and educational information about COVID-19 among their quick response teams and link those in need of the shot to services.

Event Grantees

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (Kanawha County)

The Woman’s Club of Dunbar will host a Community Health Fair in the city of Dunbar, WV, in the spring of 2022.

Reset Incorporated (Marion County)

Reset will host multiple small meetings of communities of color to discuss hesitancy issues related to the COVID 19 vaccine in Fairmont, WV.

About The Community Education Group

Community Education Group (CEG) works to eliminate disparities in health outcomes and improve public health in disadvantaged populations and under-served communities. CEG conducts research, trains community health workers, educates and tests people who are hard to reach or at-risk, shares its expertise through national networks and local capacity-building efforts, and advocates for practical and effective health policies that lead to social change. @CEGInWV