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Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass receives grant to improve healthcare access in eastern Kentucky

Samantha Morrill

A new grant from the Kentucky Association of Health Plans will help improve healthcare access in the state’s southeast region.

The association is awarding $300,000 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass. The money will help support its mobile clinic and help students get free dental services across Letcher, Leslie, Knott, Perry and Pike counties. It also includes the hiring of a new case manager to help provide that access.

Nate Graham, CEO of the organization, says it’s meant to help with important follow-through care that would be tough to access otherwise.

“That's just getting the student to an appointment for whatever it may be, whether it be tooth decay, extractions, surgeries, anything like that,” Graham said.

Another part of the grant will create a pilot program with the University of Pikeville to organize pop-up immunization clinics at community events. That includes vaccinations for diphtheria and measles, as well as vision and dental checkups.

“A lot of times, if you look into some of these underserved communities, the access or the ability to get immunizations that are needed, are not there,” Graham said.

The grant will be awarded over the span of three years, with $100,000 being awarded each year.

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Shepherd joined WEKU in June 2023 as a staff reporter. He most recently worked for West Virginia Public Broadcasting as General Assignment Reporter. In that role, he collected interviews and captured photos in the northern region of West Virginia. Shepherd holds a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Communication and a bachelor’s in music from West Virginia University.
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