SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — With West Virginia facing some of the toughest healthcare challenges, coupled with the shortage of providers, Shepherd University’s School of Nursing hopes to turn those problems around in the Eastern Panhandle.
Recently, Shepherd University’s Nursing Program was awarded a four-year, $2.7 million Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to help fight the opioid crisis in the region.
“This chronic pain issue and the poor health of the region have really led to this opioid crisis that we have in our region,” said Scott Beard, Provost & Chief Academic Officer at Shepherd University.
One direction they’re taking is to encourage advanced practice nurses to work in rural West Virginia.
“It is going to put our students into federally qualified health care centers in rural West Virginia,” said Dr. Kelly Huffer, Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing.
According to school officials, the grant will pay for two years of academic expenses while students work in rural clinics.
Some of the money will also go towards putting new technology into the hands of students, such as using light therapy, or Photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy, which “targets pain and wound healing.”
West Virginia reportedly has the worst statistics on overdose deaths in the country, according to health officials.
“It’s really, I think going to be extremely impactful in terms of getting providers out into the community,” said Beard.
Nurses will be doing clinicals in Martinsburg, Paw Paw as well as Berkeley Springs.
A remote app for patients who can’t get into the doctor’s office is also planned to be implemented this coming year.