Community praises new program providing free health care in Eastern KY

BATH COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – A new program is expected to provide free health care to more than 2,500 people in Eastern Kentucky.

Fred Williams lives in Bath County, one of the five counties included. He said he knows some people in the community struggle to make ends meet, and often sacrifice their health in the process.

“It’s been a great thing for the community. There are people that are coming up here that can’t afford it – that won’t do it unless they have something like this,” Williams said.

Wednesday, there was a tour of Bath County’s clinic, located in Bath County High School.

It offers free eye and dental care and health screenings; Its part of ‘Operation Gateway Kentucky,’ a project in which military troops from all over the country work with communities and provide the services they need – all while the troops get the hands-on training they need.

There are five sites across Bath, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan and Rowan counties. It’s funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

“It certainly is a win win,” ARC Co-Chair Gayle Manchin said. “You talk about eliminating these disparities and providing resources to areas that do not have these critical components, then it’s programs like these that step up to the plate and make sure they have it.”

Williams said the clinic is especially important after this past year – a year that caused financial strain for many, including himself.

“I lost my job during that. Now, that I’m on Social Security, I have some help, but there was a point in between there I didn’t have anything, so I put everything off,” Williams said.

The program ends July 19. Everyone in need of care, or just wanting to check on their health is encouraged to come out.

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