WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has approved $500,000 in grant funding for St. Mary’s Health Wagon, a non-profit organization that provides health services to underserved individuals. The funding will be used to construct a new healthcare clinic in Clintwood, Va. that is expected to serve 3,500 uninsured and underinsured patients annually.
“Every year, the Health Wagon helps thousands of Virginians get access to healthcare they otherwise could not afford. As Governors and as Senators, we have been proud to support the important work of the Health Wagon. Worthy projects such as this clinic are why we have fought so hard in Washington to protect funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission. This new facility in Dickenson County will allow the Health Wagon to continue providing health, vision and dental services to underserved patients in Southwest Virginia,” said the Senators.
“We are so pleased that ARC chose to fund a much-needed construction grant for a brand-new stationary free health clinic in Dickenson County, the county where St. Mary’s Health Wagon began almost forty years ago. The Health Wagon is the region’s only free clinic, serving Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson, Buchanan and Russell Counties and is a medical home to over 10,000 patients. The new free clinic will be located in Clintwood, Virginia, and will bring a variety of new innovative patient resources and economic benefits such as medical tourism and new jobs to the region. The new clinic will have dedicated optometry, dental, ultrasound and x-ray suites,” said Dr. Teresa Tyson, Health Wagon Executive Director.
The current Health Wagon clinic in Clintwood has only two exam rooms, limiting the ability of physicians to accommodate patient needs. Construction of the new 5,000-square foot clinic will provide additional exam rooms for medical, dental, and vision care services, as well as administrative offices and spaces for x-ray, pharmacy, laboratory and telehealth use. Governor McAuliffe recommended funding for this project at the end of tenure, which has now been formally approved by ARC.
ARC project grants are awarded to local and state government entities and non-profits. The ARC funds are then matched by local funding sources. In addition to the ARC funds, local sources will provide $730,600, bringing the total project funding to more than $1.2 million. Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated over 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic underdevelopment. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed eliminating the program entirely. Warner and Kaine have continued to vote to fully fund ARC.
As Governors, Warner and Kaine both advocated for additional funding for the Health Wagon, a partner in the annual Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic that provides dental care, exams and treatment at no cost.