Health is about more than individual well-being; it has massive implications for the region’s economy. Demographic changes, industry shifts, and federal policies have placed an increased emphasis on proactive approaches to health in rural communities. Epidemics of obesity, drug abuse, and malnutrition are holding back Appalachia’s workforce, even as workforce development and health care delivery offer opportunities to make the health sector an economic engine in the region.
Current investors in this sector include ARC, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and local and regional foundations. Active initiatives and opportunities in this sector include:
- Innovative health care delivery and workforce training to meet the growing demands on our health care system.
- Efforts to address obesity, malnutrition, and food insecurity through increased access to fresh healthy foods and nutrition education.
- Re-entry programs and other efforts to improve workforce readiness.
- A regional funder Health Working Group that is conducting research on effective philanthropic investments to create a culture of health in the region.
- Innovative approaches to financing health care, including a loan fund for rural health infrastructure in West Virginia.