Chambers County awarded for Community Health and Wellness Center

Published 11:30 am Thursday, August 31, 2023

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For the second year, Chambers County was awarded by the Association of County Commissioners of Alabama for the work done bringing the Chambers County Health and Wellness Center to the rural area. 

“This is two in a row for Chambers County Commission,” said County Commissioner Sam Bradford during the county commission meeting. 

The ACCA awarded Chambers County with an award for efficiency and innovation in county government in the rural county category on Aug. 24. 

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“We partnered with Auburn University and the city of LaFayette, which is a good example of the commission and cities working together,” Bradford said.

The project began in 2020 when the county commissioners became involved with Auburn University on a health initiative. Chambers County ranks high in many health concerns including cervical cancer, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and hypertension.

“That’s what kind of brought to our attention that we needed to do something to either get people educated or to get people the medical care that they needed,” said Commissioner Debra Riley.

Riley said the unique partnership between the county and the university helped the project stand out. 

The center houses an OnMed telehealth station that provides free, virtual healthcare to the rural community. The OnMed station can provide up to 85% of the healthcare that a physician’s office could offer. 

“It’s the future of healthcare,” Riley said. 

Since it opened in March, over 300 people in Chambers County have received services at the center.

Auburn University partners like Professor of Nursing Dr. Linda Gibson-Young have organized health screenings and informational sessions run by nursing and healthcare students from Auburn and Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) to bring awareness of some of the health issues in the county. 

ADECA and Chambers County Extension Office have also partnered on the project. 

“It is rewarding to be involved in something where a large number of people have already been served,” Riley said. “And the more people that understand that it’s there and it’s free, the more people that can be served.”

Last year, the ACCA awarded Chambers County with the same award for the county’s roadside litter initiative funded with $6,000 by the county commission. For every mile that churches, nonprofits and civic organizations pick up litter along the highways, they can collect $250.

According to Bradford, the county collected around 21 miles worth of litter last year. 

Bradford and Riley are currently working on a Student and Young Adult Leadership program for the upcoming year.