Blue Ridge Region and AHEC

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

Health Care Workforce in the Blue Ridge Region

The BRAHEC service area covers over 9,000 square miles, making transportation a major barrier to health care for many residents. Nearly 60% of the district's population lives in only six counties (Albemarle, Augusta, Culpepper, Fauquier, Frederick and Rockingham) and two cities (Charlottesville and Harrisonburg). In the region, 15 counties and all 7 cities are classified as MUA/P. Fourteen are primary care HPSAs; 6 are mental health HPSAs; and 15 are dental HPSAs. Four FQHCs and five rural health clinics serve the region. (October 21, 2016--retrieved from: HPSAfind and VDH). Harrisonburg, the largest city in the district, has a population of 52,538 with 18.6% self-identifying as Hispanic/Latino. Almost 23% speak a language other than English at home, 19% were born in another country, and 32% were estimated to have incomes below the poverty level. (American Community Survey 2010-2014). In 2015, 47 different languages, representing 42 countries of origin, were spoken in Harrisonburg City Public Schools and LEP students represented 38% of the student population. (November 1, 2016-retrieved from: Harrisonburg website).

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
755 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
Phone: (540) 568-6007

Linda Plitt Donaldson, MSW, PhD,
Interim Program Director

Linda Plitt Donaldson

Linda Plitt Donaldson is an Associate Dean in the College of Health and Behavioral Studies at James Madison University. Part of her role includes the Directing the Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services which houses the Blue Ridge Area Health Education Center, among 27 other community-based programs and clinics. Dr. Plitt Donaldson brings extensive experience in higher education teaching and administration, nonprofit human service management, community practice, and public policy advocacy. Prior to entering higher education in 2004, Dr. Plitt Donaldson worked for ten years in a community-based homeless services agency in Washington, D.C, providing direct service, directing programs in advocacy, social justice, family services, and developing affordable housing.

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 on the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail.

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 Health Care
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

Find Local Support

Blue Ridge Region AHEC – Shenandoah Valley

Capital Region AHEC – Richmond Metro and surrounding areas

Eastern Virginia Region AHEC – Southeast Virginia and Peninsula

Northern Virginia Region AHEC – Northern Virginia

Rappahannock Region AHEC – Northern Neck, Fredericksburg, and Middle Peninsula

South Central Region AHEC – Lynchburg, Danville, and surrounding area

Southside Region AHEC – South of Richmond

Southwest Virginia Region AHEC – Roanoke Valley and West