West Virginia Healthy Start and Navigator funding will continue

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In support of its efforts to encourage the health and well-being of West Virginians, the West Virginia Healthy Start/Helping Appalachian Parents and Infants (HAPI) Project, housed at West Virginia University Health Sciences, has been awarded more than $3.5 million in federal funding.

The next nine months of HAPI operations have received $532,933 in grant dollars from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), with $750,000 expected yearly through May 2019. The recently announced grant totals $3,532,933 over the next five years.

“HAPI is aimed at improving pregnancy outcomes for all women in our region,” Wanda Hembree, M.D., HAPI principal investigator and associate professor in the WVU Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said. “With the help of this grant, we are able to identify risk factors in all pregnant patients in our region who seek prenatal care. We can then address each risk factor with our clients and work with them to reduce their risks and achieve a healthy pregnancy and birth experience.”  

“We are very pleased to be able to continue our community-based services for pregnant women and new mothers through the West Virginia Healthy Start/HAPI project,” Penny Womeldorff, project director, added. “We have spent more than a decade building services and partnerships within our eight-county region and look forward to growing even more. This project serves some of the most at-risk women and families. At the federal level, Healthy Start continues to evolve, and we look forward to implementing new, federally directed initiatives to support healthy mothers and babies in our state.”  

Funded by HRSA since 2001, West Virginia Healthy Start/HAPI is a collaborative project of the WVU schools of Medicine and Dentistry, the West Virginia Office of Maternal, Child, and Family Health, and many community health agencies in the counties served by the project. One of more than 80 Healthy Start Projects nationally and the only Healthy Start project in the state, HAPI’s goal is to help women and their families have the healthiest babies and families possible and to target high rates of infant mortality with high risk populations.

In addition to the HRSA grant, the National Healthy Start Association is one of many groups receiving $60 million in Navigator grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The West Virginia Healthy Start/HAPI Project was one of seven projects in five states awarded a Navigator grant under the National Healthy Start Association. Services provided under the Navigator grant will include outreach, education, and direct assistance for enrollment in the marketplace under the Affordable Care Act and assistance with enrollment in the Medicaid expansion.  The Navigator grant will have two full-time Navigators placed at the Monongalia County Health Department and at the Barbour County Health Department.

The West Virginia Healthy Start Navigator grant will use $141,826 to help community members in eight local counties, including Barbour, Harrison, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Randolph, Taylor, and Upshur.

For more information: Leigh Limerick, Communications Specialist, 304-293-7087
lal: 09-10-14