Grants benefit organizations

Published 3:16 pm Thursday, August 23, 2018

Grants from the Centra Foundation’s 2018 Community Health Initiative Fund resulted in grants for more than $500,000 to 25 health-related organizations. Four of these organizations are based in the Heart of Virginia.

Stephen Blewett

Central Virginia Health Services Inc. (CVHS) the Heart of Virginia Free Clinic (HOVFC), Piedmont Senior Resources Area Agency on Aging (PSR) and the Southside Virginia Family YMCA received $10,000, $14,000, $25,000 and $29,000 respectively from the Lynchburg-based Centra Foundation, going toward initiatives ranging from a transportation program, free swimming lessons, bulk generic drugs for uninsured patients and more.

CVHS Inc. offices based in Farmville and Prince George County received $10,000 from the foundation to fund colorectal cancer screenings.

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The Farmville office is called the Health Center for Women & Families and is located at 833 Buffalo St.

Paula A. Tomko, chief executive officer of CVHS Inc., which has 17 offices around the region, said the office was excited to be able to provide this service to people in the area who need it.

“We are very excited to be partnering with Centra to help our uninsured or underinsured patients who have positive results from screening to get colonoscopies,” Tomko said in a statement.

Tomko said the organization requested the grant because of the need for colonoscopy testing for patients who could not afford it.

“We think it will be really helpful in getting some of our patients colonoscopies that they otherwise might not be able to afford or would delay because of cost,” Tomko said. “Early detection can make a big difference, and we appreciate the Centra Foundation’s support in this area.”

PSR Executive Director Justine A. Young and Director of Transportation and Nutrition Thomas Jordan Miles III said in a statement that the grant would help offset the cost to provide the region with non-emergency medical transport, such as transporting area senior citizens to doctor appointments.

“There is a definite, clear and qualified need for non- emergency medical transportation for our senior population, aged 60 and over, in Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Nottoway, Lunenburg and Prince Edward counties – all of which we serve,” Young said in the statement. “We expect to start with this one van and grow exponentially. Lack of ability to make medical appointments results in deaths, decreased function and increased illness for our seniors.”

The statement cited that PSR would work with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles on this program.

Justine A. Young

“In the 2017-2019 Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation Plan, conducted by Centra Southside Community Hospital, transportation was ranked as most important through the needs and assessment process,” Miles said. “Also of the nearly 1,700 respondents in the STEPS Inc. Community Needs Assessment Summary for 2105-2016, almost half of all respondents rated public transportation “fair/poor” while nearly 39 percent of respondents rated the same for personal transportation.”

“We are very grateful for the $25,000 Centra Foundation allotted us,” Young said.

Pat Payne, executive director of the HOVFC, said the grant from the Centra Foundation would allow the clinic to purchase bulk generic drugs for its uninsured patients in seven counties, including Cumberland, Buckingham and Prince Edward. Payne estimates HOVFC has 193 patients and has a pharmacy licensed by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy.

The HOVFC also recently received grants from Hampden-Sydney College’s Philanthropy Class Fund, which used $2,480 to purchase full sets of dentures for four patients, and a grant from the Centra Foundation that provided dental care. The project to purchase the dentures was led by recent Hampden-Sydney graduate Ian Fraser.

Pat Payne

“Our patients are people who cannot afford insurance,” Payne said. She noted that the free clinic does not receive any federal or state funding. While it does receive a donation from Prince Edward County, the majority of its funding comes from private donations from members of the community. The doctors, nurses, and ministers who are involved with the clinic frequently work on a volunteer basis. She said the clinic makes sure that all services come to the patients free of charge. “We are a true free clinic.”

Stephen Blewett with the Southside Family YMCA said the majority of the grant will be used for scholarships that would allow members of the community to use the facilities and take steps toward a healthier life.

He also said the grant will also go toward free swimming lessons to members of five surrounding counties: Prince Edward, Cumberland, Buckingham, Nottoway and Charlotte. He said the program helped third through fifth-grade students in Cumberland and middle school students in Nottoway learn how to swim.

“We truly believe it is important for your children to have a safe place to be after school, and that they eat healthy snacks and be in a healthy environment,” Blewett said.

Blewett said any county is welcome to participate in the program, and asked that the county provide transportation to and from the facility.

To learn more about the CVHC Health Center for Women & Families, call (434) 392-8177; to learn more about PSR, call (434) 767-5588; to learn more about HOVFC, call (434) 315-5701 and to learn more about the Southside Family YMCA, call (434) 392-3456.