Southwest Virginia Health Authority Blueprint and Healthy Appalachia Institute are unveiled

The Southwest Virginia Health Authority unveiled at a news conference Friday its proposal to improve the region’s health using a grassroots plan crafted by Southwest Virginia’s health care leaders and citizens.

Delegate Bud Phillips

The Blueprint for Health Improvement and Health-Enabled Prosperity is the first definitive strategic plan developed to address the health disparities that residents of Southwest Virginia face, said Delegate Bud Phillips, the Authority chair. The Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 2006, developed the comprehensive plan to improve health and the quality of life in the region.

Residents of Southwest Virginia have a premature mortality rate that is 26 percent higher than Virginia as a whole. Southwest Virginia has higher rates of health risks than other localities in Virginia in obesity, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The Blueprint identifies those issues and needs and sets near, intermediate and long-term goals and objectives to address those needs.

“We believe the Authority’s approach is a model for the nation to follow because it was developed by the people who know health care and what Southwest Virginia’s needs are,” Phillips said. “By improving health care, we improve the quality of life in Southwest Virginia.”

Sen. William Wampler

Some identified goals, such as improving dental health in the region by allowing dental hygienists to provide preventive care and a proposal to put a dental clinic in Wise County, are well underway. An immediate goal is to develop a Medical Specialist Training Center in the region so residents no longer need to travel long distances to see heath care specialists. The University of Virginia School of Medicine is seen as a vital partner in the plan to create a Medical Specialist Training Center, Phillips said.

“It’s about building it from the bottom up,” Sen. William Wampler said at the news conference. “The Blueprint sets measurable goals so we can take it one step further.”

Also at the news conference, David J. Prior, Chancellor of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, presented details of the Healthy Appalachia Institute, a strategic partner of the Health Authority created to study and determine the region’s health-related needs so the Authority can implement those proposals. HAI partnered with the Authority in drafting the Blueprint.

Chancellor David J. Prior

“The Blueprint is significant,” Prior said. “The implementation of the Blueprint is the agenda. We’re here for the long haul. Everybody is involved and now it’s time to get to work.”

HAI is housed at UVa-Wise and is collaboration between the College, the Southwest Virginia Health Authority, the University of Virginia, the Southwest Virginia Graduate Medical Education Consortium and key partners in government, education, business and health care.

For more information on this news release, contact the Office of College Relations at 276-328-0130.