Randolph County Housing Authority awarded $1.5m grant to bring health workforce development classes to North Central West Virginia

Elkins, WV — The Randolph County Housing Authority in Elkins, WV, was awarded $1,544,884 through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for their new educational program, Targeted Health Instruction of North Central WV, or THINC.

HRSA awarded nearly $46 million to 31 community-based organizations nationwide to expand public health clinical and operational capacity through workforce development. Randolph County Housing Authority was one of these organizations and the stand-alone pick from West Virginia.

“Randolph County Housing Authority is excited to be awarded this Rural Workforce Program grant from HRSA. Without the support from our partner network in North Central WV, this grant award would not have been possible. Our rural communities are underserved in health care,” states Jennifer Griggs, program manager for the project. “This workforce training is focused on providing short-term training, allowing a participant to enter the workforce quickly.”

THINC will provide educational opportunities to a six-county region (Randolph, Upshur, Tucker, Lewis, Webster, and Barbour counties) in West Virginia. The classes include Clinical Medical Assistant, Community Health Worker, Behavioral Health Technician, Billing and Coding, and Electronic Health Records.

RCHA has developed a network of community organizations to bring these classes to West Virginia, which include Davis Health System, Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College, Davis & Elkins College, Youth Health Services Inc, Randolph County Development Authority, Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, Workforce WV, and the Human Resources Development Fund. RCHA is looking to have more healthcare and community organizations be part of this network.

“Davis & Elkins College is honored to partner with the Randolph County Housing Authority, Davis Health System, and Youth Health Services to provide the educational component for the training of community health workers and behavioral health technicians for our region,” stated Chris A. Wood, President of Davis & Elkins College. “The classes offered through Davis & Elkins College will provide critical training and skills for participants to move into good jobs and meet a community need within the healthcare field. Working collaboratively with our partner organizations, we are committed to improving both opportunity and the quality of life in this community.”

THINC will enable over 250 people to access medical training classes during the three-year grant period. Not only will this improve those individuals’ quality of life by opening doors to family wage career opportunities, but it also creates a flow of newly trained medical professionals to ease the medical field’s hiring burden highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, the THINC program will also focus on training at least 80 individuals already working in the medical field with the desire to obtain new skills and a non-entry level position.

Davis Health System Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Catherine Chua, states, “Davis Health System is honored to be a part of the Rural Public Health Workforce Training Network Program. This is a unique opportunity to invest in our healthcare workers. HRSA funding will support initiatives to cross-train existing healthcare workers and allow curriculum development and advanced clinical learning opportunities for students preparing to meet the increasing healthcare needs of north central West Virginia.”

Randolph WORC, a subset of RCHA, has been offering Allied Health courses in partnership with Eastern West Virginia Technical and Community College since August 2021. So far, 27 students have already received medical certifications or other accreditations through the program. Receiving the HRSA grant will allow Randolph WORC and the program partners to expand the courses being offered and continue to expand the opportunities for growth within the medical workforce for WV residents.

“Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College is delighted for this opportunity to provide accessible and affordable training classes to benefit the community health care system in Elkins. Our aim is to help develop healthcare workers in the areas of clinical medical assistant, billing, and coding, and electronic health care records to best support hospital staff development and career advancement opportunities. We couldn’t be a more proud partner of the Randolph County Housing Authority to help stabilize and develop the healthcare workforce system in the region,” stated Dr. Megan Webb, Dean of Advancement and Continuing Education at Eastern.

RCHA will work with the community organizations to complete the development of the different course curriculums and class schedules. RCHA aims to have the new allied health courses enrollment open in the spring of 2023.

If you are interested in learning more about the grant or being part of this program’s network of partners, please get in touch with Jennifer Griggs with the Randolph County Housing Authority at 304-636-6495 ext. 138 or via email at jgriggs@rchawv.org.

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