2017: The Year in Review
It has been another busy, fulfilling year at Maryland Area Health Education Center West, better known as AHEC West.
AHEC West earned two major grants in 2017 that help us continue pursuit of our organizational mission to "improve access to and promote quality in healthcare through educational and other partnerships."
In June the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded a third Rural Health Network Development grant for the Mountain Health Alliance, a regional network of public health care agencies, hospitals, and community organizations that works to broaden access to health care, especially for low income and/or uninsured, underserved adults. In July, the federal Office on Women's Health approved our grant application for Stretching To EmPower (STEP), a new program that is working to prevent opioid misuse among female residents of public housing agencies in Allegany County.
AHEC West closed out the year by welcoming Allegany Health Right to its Cumberland offices. Now known simply as Health Right to reflect an oral-healthcare mission beyond Allegany County alone, the organization ceased operations as an independent non-profit and is now a separate program within AHEC West.
2017 also saw continuation of existing programs at AHEC West, including Exploring Careers in Health Occupations (ECHO), clinical education coordination for University of Maryland health professions students, the GAIT and GGEAR geriatrics programs, and the HPV Prevention Project, a joint program of the National AHEC Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Western Maryland Health Insurance Connector, also housed at AHEC West, continued its important work in helping area residents secure health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and experienced its busiest open enrollment period yet.
All in all it has been another momentous year. Looking ahead, AHEC West will continue working to reduce regional health disparities by increasing access to health professional training programs, forging healthcare coalitions, participating in networks addressing regional health concerns, strengthening health-professionals education, and increasing access to oral and behavioral health services. We look forward to continuing this vital work in 2018.