August 14, 2018
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Very soon, Milton residents will not need to leave town to receive a full range of healthcare.
Valley Health broke ground Monday morning on a new 15,000-square-foot community health center that will house everything from family medicine to behavioral health, and even dentistry. It will also have an in-house, drive-through pharmacy. Construction of the $4 million center should be completed by April. A portion of the center will be paid for using federal Health Infrastructure Investment Program grants.
The new center, located on the site of the former Mountaineer Opry House, will replace the existing Valley Health location on One Harbour Way. The lobby of the new center will include a tribute to the historic Opry, and Steve Shattls, executive director and CEO of Valley Health Systems Inc., said they still have the lease on the current location for a few more years and they are in the planning stages of what they will use that space for.
“Healthcare in rural communities and communities like Milton is economic development,” Shattls said. “We employ approximately 35 people, maybe more, at the current health center and we will be employing 10 to 15 to 20 more. Our payroll is about $3 million. That turns over in this community and it has a great impact on this community and the surrounding community.”
Valley Health has been operating in Milton since the 1980s, beginning at Grant Medical Center before moving to the space on Harbour Way. Grant Medical was one of Valley Health’s first outposts for rural primary care, Shattls said.
Debbie Zuberbuehler, nurse and operations officer for Valley Health, was there from the beginning, working a Grant Medical Center straight out of college. She said she always wanted to work at a community health center.
“When you work at a community health center, you have the opportunity to develop a lot of relationships,” Zuberbuehler said. “You develop relationships with the families that come in and you serve and care for. It’s just a privilege to get to know them and you get to know them very well.”
Zuberbuehler said she has worked with limited resources. At one time, they had just one pediatrician and especially for those with little to no insurance, it was a struggle to find a place to refer them to get specialty care.
“The barriers of the past are no longer,” she said of the new center.
The groundbreaking was the kick off to Valley Health’s celebration of National Health Centers Week. Every year, community health centers provide primary and preventative care to over 27 million patients nationwide. In West Virginia, 1 in 5 people receive healthcare at a community health center and Valley Health is the largest community health provider in the state, according to U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., a former Valley Health board member.
To play into the National Health Center Week 2018 theme, “Community Health Center Super Power,” Valley Health is recognizing three Healthcare Heroes of its own who have displayed exceptional acts of patient care. The public is invited to vote throughout the week for the Valley Health “Healthcare Hero of the Year” by visiting valleyhealth.org, reading about the three nominees, and clicking “vote” to recognize the physician they feel is most deserving of the honor. Voting opened Monday and closes at 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16.
Tuesday is Children’s Health Day, and all Valley Health family medicine and pediatric locations are offering immunization services. Immunization appointments are encouraged, but not required. Valley Health’s Hurricane, Southside, Point Pleasant Pediatrics and Coal Grove locations will also be giving away free bike helmets, while supplies last, thanks to a sponsorship from McKesson.
On Wednesday, Valley Health’s 10th Street location in Huntington will provide free health screenings, including blood pressure, glucose and vision tests. Appointments are not required, and participants do not need to fast.
On Thursday, Valley Health will be partnering with the American Red Cross to facilitate a blood drive at its East Huntington health center from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Members of the community are invited to participate, particularly those with blood types A, B, and O, for which there is currently a shortage.
Valley Health Wayne and Valley Health Upper Kanawha on Friday will host farmers markets at their locations to observe Agricultural Health Day and the importance of eating fresh, healthy produce.
Valley Health Systems Inc. is a network of more than 30 non-profit community health centers and public programs providing healthcare since 1975. Operating in southern West Virginia and southeastern Ohio, Valley Health provides services to more than 65,000 patients each year.
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