West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission
Community and Technical College System of West Virginia
West Virginia’s higher education community joins nationwide observance of National Rural Health Day
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s higher education community is celebrating the state’s health providers and educators today as part of National Rural Health Day. Held annually on the third Thursday of November, this day is designed to recognize the efforts of those serving the health needs of an estimated 57 million people across the country.
“West Virginia depends on our rural health providers and educators to ensure our citizens have the quality healthcare they need. This is true during normal times, and it is especially true today as our state continues fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Chancellor of Higher Education. “Our office works within West Virginia’s communities to train the rural providers of the future through various financial aid programs and rural health initiatives. As we continue that critical mission, we are proud on this national day of recognition to thank the many heroes on the front lines, right now, working to keep West Virginians healthy.”
The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission administers several scholarship and loan repayment programs designed to develop healthcare providers for rural and underserved areas of the state, and to support the communities where students learn and eventually practice. The Commission also oversees the West Virginia Rural Health Initiative, a collaboration with the state’s three medical schools aimed at recruiting and retaining rural providers by providing community-based training for students in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and allied health fields.
National Rural Health Day is organized by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. In West Virginia, the State Office of Rural Health is presenting its “Community Star” award today to Debrin Jenkins, Executive Director of the West Virginia Rural Health Association.
“Mrs. Jenkins worked tirelessly to create the West Virginia Hepatitis Academic Mentoring Partnership, which has served more than 50 physicians in the southern part of our state,” said David Deutsch, Associate Director for the State Office of Rural Health. “Her work showcases the community-minded, can-do spirit of rural health stakeholders to address challenges.”
To learn more about the Commission’s rural health care programs and view a new publication about the West Virginia Rural Health Initiative, visit http://www.wvhepc.edu/inside-the-commission/offices-and-affiliates/health-sciences/.
To learn more about National Rural Health Day, visit https://www.powerofrural.org/.
While attending Washington & Lee University School of Law, Debbie Curry fell in love with teaching, and that’s when she knew she wanted to be involved in higher education. Now the director of rural outreach and development at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Curry works to promote health care education in rural West Virginia, which she says is a dream job.
Molly Penzenik, a Master of Public Health student at West Virginia University, was the recipient of the 2020 WV Rural Health Conference Outstanding Abstract award. This new award was selected by conference poster subcommittee members, using a scoring rubric, that includes representation from Marshall University, West Liberty University, the WV School of Osteopathic Medicine, West Virginia University and the WV Bureau for Public Health Division of Rural Health and Recruitment. The abstract entitled “The evolution of Medicaid telehealth policy in West Virginia in response to COVID-19” and co-authored by Dr. Stephen Davis and Jonathan Herczyk, was presenting during the podium presentations at this year’s conference. Congratulations, Molly!
Brenna Kirk, a PhD student in the West Virginia University School of Public Health, and her co-authors, were awarded the 2020 WV Rural Health Conference Poster of the Year. Conference attendees were able to view the virtual poster session then vote for their favorite during this year’s conference. Ms. Kirk’s poster, co-authored by Dr. Ranjita Misra, Dr. Deb Koester, Dr. Elizabeth Cox, Dr. Dana King, and Dr. Mike Brumage, focused on the work of the WV Diabetes Collaborative. “Comparing in-person vs. virtual meetings for engaging West Virginians in diabetes research” is a collaborative, multi-disciplinary effort between Marshall University and West Virginia University where patients are partners to inform and improve patient-centered diabetes health outcomes in the state. Congratulations, Brenna!