New West Side Clinic Offers Health, Hope for Charleston Residents
The opening of a small, community clinic brought out a big crowd on Charleston’s West Side Tuesday including many of the state’s top political and elected officials who came to the grand opening of the city’s new Health Right Clinic.
Health Right clinics provide free, comprehensive health care for uninsured and low-income people. State officials and members of the Charleston West Side community say the new clinic is meant to bridge a gap in health care coverage in the capital city.
“Having health here, and promoting health equity is so important, and it’s something brand new for the city and it’s even brand new for the state,” said Shayla Leftridge, Health Right director of outreach, diversity, equity and inclusion.
Both of the state’s U.S. senators, Charleston’s mayor, state delegates and community faith leaders spoke to the value of having another health provider in this part of the city.
“We have communities that sometimes need more attention, need more help, and sometimes they’re forgotten. They’re not forgotten today,” said Sen. Joe Manchin. “If you don’t have your health, you have nothing, and a person who’s gonna be productive has to be healthy in order to be productive.”
Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin lauded the importance of having a community health facility on the West Side.
"The West Side has been deeply neglected for more than two decades… in health care, in housing, in public recreation, in transportation… the laundry list goes on,” said Goodwin. “When the pandemic hit, we saw the most serious effects on the West Side because it was already a community in which folks were suffering. There’s been so much talk of planning. There’s been so many discussions on what we should do. Now we’re seeing the fruits of those discussions.”
Decades of neglect on Charleston’s West Side has left the community with little resources. The goal of the new Health Right clinic is to help provide equity and stability there. Many who live in the area see the clinic’s opening as a strong and concrete step to improving the quality of life for residents there.
“The West Side, over the years, they’ve been promised a lot of things, and those promises disappeared, they just evaporated,” said Bishop Robert Haley. “Our young people are leaving West Virginia mainly because of job situations, but also, there’s nothing to do. Those things have to change, and Health Right being here is just the start.”
Health Right now has two clinics in Charleston. One on the East End opened in 1999.