Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority

The purpose of the VHWDA is to facilitate the development of a statewide health professions pipeline that identifies, educates, recruits and retains a diverse, geographically distributed and culturally competent quality workforce for all Virginians.

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Discover Virginia’s Blue Ridge Region and AHEC Shenandoah Valley

Shenandoah Valley - The cities of Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, Waynesboro, Winchester and surrounding areas

The cities of Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, Waynesboro, Winchester and surrounding areas

Healthcare Workforce in the Blue Ridge Region

The Blue Ridge region, including the counties of Albemarle, Augusta, Bath, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Frederick, Greene, Highland, Loudoun, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange, Page, Rappahannock, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Warren and the cities of Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, Waynesboro and Winchester, is home to hospitals, health systems, Community Health Centers (CHC), community colleges and universities that offer health professions career studies, internships, training and job opportunities. In the region, 16 counties are considered medically underserved while 15-31% of the population in the region's cities live below the poverty level. Harrisonburg, a vastly diverse city, is comprised of 15% Hispanic or Latino, where over 20% of the population speaks a language other than English at home, and more than 14% of the population is born outside of the United States. In 2009, 51 different languages representing 42 countries were spoken in Harrionsburg schools and limited English speaking students represented 35% of the student population. The top health care barriers for the region include no insurance, lack of transportation and language barriers.

Blue Ridge Area Health Education Center (AHEC)

The Blue Ridge AHEC (BRAHEC) is a partner program of the Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services at James Madison University. BRAHEC focuses on health and the community. Specifically, Blue Ridge AHEC partners with academic and community agencies to develop, expand or support health and human services for those whose health status is most vulnerable. Linking local health and human service providers, resources and programs, Blue Ridge AHEC creates community response to community need - building community capacity  and solutions one opportunity at a time.

Community Based Student Education: Blue Ridge AHEC works with James Madison University to train over 2,000 Pre Professional Health students. These students participate in AHEC programs gaining vital experience with diverse limited English speaking populations to become more effective, culturally competent practitioners. In additiona, BRAHEC partners with the local federally qualified health center to provide clinical rotations to undergraduate and graduate health career students.

Interpreter Services: Blue Ridge AHEC is centered in multi-cultural communities. Blue Ridge AHEC's non-profit Community Health Interpreter Service (CHIS) offers health and human service providers access to trained health care interpreters on an as-needed basis. The service improves the LEP (Limited English Proficient) community's access to health care while health and human service providers benefit from trained professional interpreters that improve communication and reduce risks.

Accurate communication is the cornerstone of competent, effective health care. For hundreds of Shenandoah Valley residents, linguistic and cultural barriers seriously compromise the quality of health care that they receive and contribute to health disparities. The use of trained interpreters removes barriers, improving access, outcomes and the health of our community.

Interpreter Training: The Blue Ridge AHEC offers the central Shenandoah Valley and surrounding areas two interpreter training programs. These training programs help ensure that all community residents have access to clear and accurate communication with their health and human service providers. BRAHEC provides interpreters for over 1,200 medical and community appointments per month in 9 languages.

The first program, Health Care Interpreting, utilizes the national "Bridging the Gap" curriculum, and trains qualified bilingual persons to become specialized professional interpreters in medical and other health care settings.

The second program, Introduction to Community Interpreting, trains bilingual persons to effectively interpret in public settings such as school systems, social services, and government agencies.

The third program, Promotores de Salud, has trained over 200 Spanish speaking lay health promoters to share basic health information with family, friends and their community. Many participants of Promotores de Salud have found employment in allied health fields. BRAHEC hopes to expand the program to include Russian, Kurdish, Arabic and Tigrina in the coming years.

Blue Ridge AHEC
James Madison University 601 University Boulevard
Harrisonburg, VA 22801

Phone: (540) 568-3383

Deborah Stranges, Program Director

Deborah Stranges

Deb Stranges brings significant successful experience in program design and implementation, grants management, and organizational development to the Blue Ridge Area Health Education Center.  A Baltimore native, Deb worked for the past nine years in Union County, North Carolina, as part of the Smart Start early childhood initiative and for over 20 years in commercial insurance underwriting and operations management in North Carolina, New Jersey and Wisconsin.  Deb holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Live, Work and Play in the Blue Ridge Region

Get Outside: Hike the Appalachian Trail from the northern tip of the region to the southwestern corner of the state; ride your bike on the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy the breathtaking views; explore the depths of the Luray Caverns or ski from the tops of Massanutten Resort or Wintergreen Resort.

Historic Landmarks: Take a tour of Belle Grove Plantation which began with the German immigration into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. In 1732, Jost Hite with his partner Robert McKay and 16 families, journeyed to the northern Valley to settle on 140,000 acres obtained in two land grants. Spend a day at the Frontier Culture Museum where thousands of people migrated to colonial America to create a life for themselves and their descendents. These first pioneers came to America during the 1600s and 1700s from communities in the hinterlands of England, Germany, Ireland, and West Africa. Take a guided tour of Monticello, the masterpiece of Thomas Jefferson, nestled in beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia.

Taste Virginia's finest wines: Autumn Hill Vineyards, Barboursville Vineyards, Burnley Vineyards, Farfelu Vineyard and Winery, First Colony Winery, Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery, Jefferson Vineyards, Keswick Vineyards, King Family Vineyards, Trump Winery and Vineyard, Mountain Cove Vineyards and Winegarden, Rappahannock Cellars, Rose River Vineyards, Sharp Rock Vineyards, Shenandoah Vineyards, Stone Mountain Vineyard, Unicorn Winery, Veramar Vineyards, White Hall Vineyards, Wintergreen Winery.

Counties and Cities in the Blue Ridge Region

The Blue Ridge region includes the counties of Albemarle, Augusta, Bath, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Frederick, Greene, Highland, Loudoun, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange, Page, Rappahannock, Rockbridge, Shenandoah, Warren and the cities of Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, Waynesboro and Winchester.

District Health Organizations and Hospitals

Augusta Medical Center
Central Shenandoah Health District
Culpeper Regional Hospital
Fauquier Health System - Hospital in Northern Virginia
Lord Fairfax Health District
Martha Jefferson Hospital
Rappahannock/Rapidan Health District
Rockingham Memorial Hospital
Shenandoah Memorial Hospital
Thomas Jefferson Health District
Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital
University of Virginia Health System
University of Virginia Health Science Center
Winchester Medical Center

Community Health Centers (CHC)

Harrisonburg Community Health Center
563A Neff Avenue
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
Phone: (540) 433-4913

Highland Medical Center School Based Healthcare
240 Myers Moon Road
Monterey, VA 24465
Phone: (540) 468-3300

141 Fort Collier Road
Winchester, VA 22603
Phone: (540) 665-6386

Migrant SVS-Winchester Outreach
867 Fairmont Avenue
Winchester, VA 22601
Phone: (304) 263-4999

Winchester Family Health Center
525 Amherst Street
Winchester, VA 22601
Phone: (540) 722-2369

Winchester Family Health Center
130 Peyton Street
Winchester, VA 22601
Phone: (540) 722-2369

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