GRAFTON, W.Va. – Preston Taylor Community Health Centers (PTCHC) will receive $2,079,690 as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, otherwise known as his COVID-19 relief bill.
“We were very pleased because there are always projects that we have in process and this is going to enable us to fund some of those changes that we need to do, so, we were very pleased,” Chief Executive Officer of PTCHC Linda Shriver said.
The funding was announced recently by West Virginia Senators Capito and Manchin. The funds are designed to help all Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funded health centers and look-alike health centers in West Virginia. All such facilities have been invited to participate in the COVID-19 Vaccine Program.
Shriver said PTCHC plans on playing a big part in the vaccine rollout in the communities it serves and doing all that comes with fighting the pandemic. As she’s already noted, in order to be effective they will have to implement some changes with the new funding.
One of those changes would focus on how to test patients who arrive at the health centers and are symptomatic with the coronavirus.
“We would like to have an isolated area where we can bring those people in to be tested without integrating them into the entire patient population,” Shriver said. “And because of the social distancing, we’ve had to expand the distance in our waiting rooms and this will help us do some extra space for waiting areas and we are now going to be able to do vaccines at our own site. That is another thing that gives us more capability to offer more services.”
All of the services, Shriver just described, involved patients willingly coming to the six health centers across four counties. However, she understands that a lot of the work combating COVID-19 will have to involve convincing many people to seek help.
“One other area that we will be able to fund is outreach and patient education activities,” she said. “Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of the pandemic, you’re doing so much with the patient care that you don’t have the resources to pay someone to go out and do those things, so we definitely will be providing outreach and education in the community.”
Another idea Shriver and her team had was to offer more home visits to patients.
That is important, she said, because many people need to receive their vaccines and tests at home, so a solution needs to be created.
“One of the things that we will be able to do this money is to provide vehicles, or to pay travel expenses for our nursing staff to go out into people’s homes to do the test or vaccines,” Shriver said. “Another idea we had with this was a mobile unit that we could use between sites because we do have six clinic locations in a four-county area. As we may not need that service full time at every site, the unit would allow us to go one day a week or schedule those instead of having full time at every site.”
The $2,079,690 in funds have not been released to PTCHC, but they will be in the coming weeks. Shriver said they will still have to formally apply for the grant by May 31.
In their grant request, they will pitch some of the ideas she’s already mentioned and lay out a budget. Ultimately, funds should arrive in June.
Shriver said, to some, that may seem late in the game, but she anticipates COVID-19 will remain relevant even in a few months.
“Yes, we expect it to be ongoing for quite a while,” she said. “The way it’s going now, it becomes more active and then it backs off and then it starts off again. You’ve got to be ready to deal with that as it goes. We’ve been doing some work with schools lately. And now that vaccines are available to school-aged children, that’s another population group that we hadn’t dealt with before.”