Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center announced today it has received a grant totaling more than $160,000 from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), to further expand and develop our Integrated Behavioral Health and substance abuse treatment services.
HRSA awarded $200 million to more than 1200 health centers across the nation to increase access to high quality, integrated behavioral health services, like what can be found at RCCHC. This includes the prevention or treatment of mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder.
"Health centers and behavioral health providers are on the front lines of the fight against the opioid crisis and substance abuse, especially in rural communities," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
RCCHC is proud to be part of the fight, and is excited for the opportunity to expand the work we are currently doing to better serve our patients and community. We understand that addressing mental health needs may be the key for many with chronic diseases to living healthier lives overall. "If you can treat the anxiety or depression, you're going to have stabilization or improvement of the chronic disease," said RCCHC CEO, Kim Schwartz. Schwartz was recently quoted in an international article regarding mental health treatment in the United States called “Treating a Chronic Disease, Beginning with Mental Health”. She added, "Patients who are successfully treated for a mental illness begin to feel better. Then they take better care because they feel better about feeling better. It's a Mobius strip."
Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center offers a wide variety of mental health services at its clinics in Ahoskie, Colerain, Creswell, and Murfressboro and Woodland (opening Fall 2019). From common mental health diagnoses such as Anxiety, Depression, ADD/ADHD, Bipolar, and PTSD to Substance Abuse, Opioid Addiction Treatment, and NARCAN/Naloxone training.
"It is essential to treat the whole person at RCCHC, and to help to take away the stigma attached to mental health," says Schwartz, "because it is ALL health - mental, physical, spiritual and social."
Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center will host a free men’s health fair with information on men’s health issues like prostate cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, health screenings, and activities for the whole family. The event is open to the public on Monday, September 16 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Ahoskie Comprehensive Care, 120 Health Drive in Ahoskie. More information is available by calling the event coordinator Erin Storie at 252-209-0237.
Most people who don’t live or work with high schoolers probably don’t go out of their way to spend much time around them, but by doing that, we might be missing out on some of our community’s most productive and thoughtful residents.
Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center’s (RCCHC) Hertford County Wellness Center (HCSWC) Director, Catherine Parker, is adamant that youth can be active participants in their community to guide positive change. “We want to create a community where young people have a voice and are invited to the table. Teenagers don’t normally have a platform to create community change, but when adults step back, they do amazing things.” says Parker.
The catalyst for much of the current youth led work began with the Youth Wellness Academy (YWA), a partnership between the Hertford County Student Wellness Center, the Hertford Health Maintenance Alliance and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation. It was created with the intent to let students pursue leadership opportunities, especially those who may not have otherwise had the chance to do so.
One such opportunity was the Photovoice Project, where YWA members were asked to examine community conditions and discuss how they are affected through photography. Photos taken by the students ranged from spoiled food, to empty storefronts, to decaying sidewalks, but also images of hope and opportunity. As a response to the Photovoice, youth services were identified as a priority among community partners for three years, and the need for safe and accessible places to exercise helped create the P.A.W. Path Walking Trail – a trail open to the public connecting Hertford County High, Bearfield Primary School, Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, ECU School of Dental Medicine’s Service Learning Site, and town sidewalks. Youth Wellness Academy students also traveled to Raleigh to advocate for P.E. in schools, and organized “Destress for the Test”, an afternoon of relaxing activities to help students at Hertford County High School relieve stress before their final exams.
Students have also led an active role in the Farm to School to Healthcare program, a community partnership created to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables and safe spaces to be active in Hertford County. High school aged “Garden Stewards” dedicate large amounts of their time and energy over the summer and school year to maintain school gardens located at Hertford County High, Hertford County Early College, C.S. Brown H.S. STEM, Bearfield Primary, and Riverview Elementary, as well as Ahoskie Community Gardens where produce is grown to be sold at youth led farmers markets. At the markets, students take care of everything from manning the cash register, to giving out samples of healthy dishes they have prepared, to managing promotional social media accounts. Volunteers from the program also assist with its annual “Farm to Table Dinner”, whose guest speakers last year included NC first Lady Kristin Cooper and former NFL player Jason Brown, now the owner of First Fruits Farm.
The Hertford County Student Wellness Center, in partnership with Hertford County Cooperative Extension were also lucky enough to have three interns this year, Dacia Peele, Lindsey Stallings and Zach Wise. Among their accomplishments includes leading the charge on the “StoryBook Trail” where walkers can read pages of a storybook as they follow along the P.A.W. Path., along with implementing a garden art project at Bearfield Primary School. Parker states that she’s grateful not only for their hard work, but also their professionalism, and the valuable advice and input they have offered about programs the in the county.
“As adults, we forget what it’s like to be young and we tend to have a nasty habit of thinking ‘kids these days are so [negative opinion]’ without really involving them in the conversation,” says Parker, “I challenge everyone to engage with our youth. They have amazing ideas –and the option to leave. But we want them to know Hertford County is their home, and that they can make home what they want it to be. There must be a seat at our table for young people or they will find another table.”
Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center Practice Administrator Weyling White was among the graduates of the 26th Leadership North Carolina class. Fifty-six civic and community leaders from across the state celebrated their completion earlier this month of this prestigious program in the Old House Chamber of the North Carolina State Capitol.
Each year, through a rigorous selection process, LNC chooses a class of established and emerging leaders from across the state to participate in its acclaimed program. Leadership North Carolina’s Class XXVI comprises top leaders from the government, business, nonprofit, and education sectors.
“I’m forever grateful for my LNC experience and for the opportunity to connect with other great leaders across our wonderful state. LNC has provided me with the tools necessary to face the challenges seen in my community as well as throughout the state of NC. I would like to thank Nucor Steel for the financial support, and my employer, Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, for their commitment and support during my time in this program. Both of these organizations made it possible for me to be a member of Class XXVI,” said White.
Leadership North Carolina’s mission is to inform, develop, and engage committed leaders by broadening their understanding of and involvement in issues and opportunities facing North Carolina. The Leadership North Carolina Program cultivates a network of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences who share a deep commitment to their state. There are more than 1200 graduates of the program whose continued ties to LNC and to one another provide them with rich opportunities for serving North Carolina.
Weyling White, Practice Administrator for Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center (RCCHC), has been selected by the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine to the prestigious honor of membership. White joins over 150 leaders in health, medicine, and policy across North Carolina to receive this honor and partner with the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) to advance health policy for a healthier state.
"Joining the NCIOM is a huge honor and I am extremely grateful. I started my career with one goal in my mind and that was to give back to my community in a way that will save lives. We all have a part to play in our community and I have never looked at what I do as work, but as a responsibility to the people we serve," says White.
CEO of Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center and current NCIOM board member, Kim Schwartz, adds, "As a member of the NCIOM Board, I am well aware of what it takes to be nominated to membership of NCIOM - and Weyling White is recognized as an emerging leader in the safety net health care community across North Carolina. We are very proud of his accomplishments, along with his leadership at RCCHC."
"We are pleased to welcome new members to the NCIOM," said Dr. Adam Zolotor, president and CEO of the NCIOM. "We look forward to working with them to continue the mission of the Institute, seeking constructive solutions to statewide problems that impede the improvement of health and efficient and effective delivery of health care for all North Carolinians."
The North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) is an independent, quasi-state agency that was chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1983 to provide balanced, nonpartisan information on issues of relevance to the health of North Carolina's population. The NCIOM convenes task forces of knowledgeable and interested individuals to study complex health issues facing the state in order to develop workable solutions to address these issues to improve health, health care access, and quality of health care in North Carolina.