Coalition receives federal funds to help combat COVID-19

By Brandon Martin

The Martinsville Henry County (MHC) Coalition for Health and Wellness will receive $637,205 in grant funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help combat the coronavirus.

The grant funds are part of an overall $20 million fund announced by U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

“This federal funding will support centers who are doing life-saving work in their communities during this crisis,” Kaine and Warner said, both democrats. “We’re pleased to see these federal dollars go towards supporting Virginia health centers, and we will keep working to ensure that health centers in the Commonwealth receive the help they need during this challenging time.”

The MHC Coalition provides medical and primary health services at the area’s Federally Qualified Health Centers–Bassett Family Practice and Ridgeway Family Health.

“We are very grateful for the resources that we have received so that we can continue increasing access to medical and behavioral health services to meet the needs of our patients and the community,” Brittany Anthony, director of Marketing, Development & Community Relations for the coalition.

Anthony said that the non-profit organization hasn’t prepared their budget and workplan yet but the funds are to be used for “the detection of coronavirus and/or the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19.”

This can include maintaining or increasing capacity and staffing levels at the health centers, she added.

Anthony also said the health centers have changed some of their processes like most others dealing with the fallout of COVID-19.

Changes include “screening patients before they enter the clinics and encouraging virtual visits so that patients can stay home, when possible, in an effort to keep our staff and patients healthy.”

She added that the health centers now have the option to refer patients with symptoms of COVID-19 to the Martinsville Speedway drive-thru testing site which opened April 8.

In addition to their work with the virus, the health centers are continuing to provide normal services to patients with chronic conditions and spring illnesses as well as providing basic medical and behavioral health services, Anthony said.

Some basic services they provide are routine office visits, annual physical exams, medication assistance, lab services and child health services, according to the coalition’s website.

Anthony said that the coalition needs to assure that the health centers “remain available for patients needing more critical care during this pandemic emergency.,” as well.

According to the coalition’s website, they accept and file with most major medical insurance providers, including Medicaid and Medicare. They provide a sliding fee scale based on income and family size but won’t deny medical treatment because of an inability to pay,

The MHC Coalition was initially funded through a $4.5 million grant from the Harvest Foundation.

The organization also operates the Health Connect Center in Uptown Martinsville. The center doesn’t provide direct medical care but it does connect those seeking health care services with the right resources to make informed health decisions, the website said.

Some examples of the center’s work are helping women get access to mammograms, annual eye exams for those with diabetes, and providing access to affordable prescription medications through the MedAssist program.

To find out more about the MHC Coalition and the area’s community health centers, visit https://healthycommunitymhc.org/.

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