Minnie Hamilton provides array of services to rural area

By Bob Weaver

Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center has received a $447,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to increase health services in Calhoun and Gilmer County, according to CEO Barb Lay.

A second grant of $200,000 has been awarded the center to provide dental care to area residents who are unable to afford it.

"Providing good health care to Calhoun and Gilmer counties has always been our goal," said Lay. "Part of doing that is getting grant money to provide services to the community, particularly to those who do not have insurance, CHIPS, Medicaid or Medicare."

Sally Richardson, the Executive Director of the Institute for Health Policy Research, said this week, West Virginia has one of the highest rates in the nation of adults without health insurance. Calhoun's rate of uninsured is about 30%.

Lay says MHHCC has a talented team always working on obtaining special funds and grants to improve care. "It takes a lot of energy and skill," she said, with grant applications resulting in about $1 million dollars annually.

Minnie Hamilton grant writer's (L to R front) Sheree Ullum, Shelia Gherke, Connie Law and Jessica Malona (L to R rear) Edward Lawaty, Barb Lay and Steve Whited

Administrator Steve Whited, who supervises grant writing, said the HHS $447,000 grant will be used to expand services in Calhoun and Gilmer counties, including outreach, social services, radiology and lab services, most of it directed to primary care. The grant is renewable.

HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said "Nearly half a million Americans are expected to benefit from these awards, through greater access to comprehensive primary and preventative care." The federal government announced 131 grants totaling $55.8 million.

Whited said every person in Calhoun and Gilmer County should qualify for care at Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center, which also delivers school-based health services.

The dental services will be developed in MHHCC's annex, formerly occupied by Westbrook Health. "We will have a dentist and dental hygienist. The grant will also create about four jobs," said Lay.

HHS Secretary Thompson said "By improving oral health services at Minnie Hamilton, we will markedly improve local residents overall health and well-being. Health centers are the only source of health care available to many people in the communities that will benefit from these grants.

Only two other health organizations received the grants in West Virginia.

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