Institute for Rural Health at WKU receives $50,000 grant

Nicole Ziege

The WKU Institute for Rural Health has received a $50,000 grant to help continue teaching students about working in underserved areas in Kentucky, according to WKU.

The Institute for Rural Health, which started in 2001, allows students and staff members to travel to medically underserved populations in the state and provide health services and education to people in those areas, said director Matt Hunt.

The grant, called the “Healthcare and Health Promotion in Underserved Areas of Kentucky Project,” was awarded to the Institute for Rural Health on July 12, 2018, by the Good Samaritan Foundation, Inc.

Hunt said that the funds from the new grant will be used to purchase supplies for the institute, including flu and pneumonia vaccinations and tests for cholesterol and high blood pressure. He said these supplies will be administered to the patients by WKU students.

“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the help of this grant from Good Samaritan,” Hunt said. “The breath of our reach, so to speak, would not be nearly what it is now.”

Hunt said that although WKU provides some of its funding, the institute relies largely on grants to continue providing its services. He said that within the last five years he has worked as director, the institute has received about $850,000 in grants to continue its services.

Hunt said one of the most important aspects of the Institute for Rural Health is the way it helps WKU students gain experience in CHHS majors, including nursing, dental hygiene, public health, social work and healthcare administration.

In one year, Hunt said that students involved with the institute will work a combined total of about 3,000 hours with patients in the underserved areas. He said that last year, students saw a combined total of between 7,500 and 8,000 patient encounters.

“It’s very rewarding but at the same time, it’s very beneficial to our students so that’s why we exist,” Hunt said.

Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow Nicole Ziege on Twitter at @NicoleZiege.