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River Valley designated ‘Rural Health Program of the Year’

River Valley Health & Dental recently was designated “Rural Health Program of the Year” by the state Office of Rural Health in a virtual award ceremony.

The award is given to honor exemplary health programs that address an identified need in a rural community, according to a recent press release.

The center was able to demonstrate its creativity, responsiveness and effectiveness in serving the most vulnerable population in Lycoming County, said a spokesperson.

The center serves over 17,000 patients per year, with 72 percent of those patients living at or below the poverty level.

Partnering with community resources, the center provides services including primary care, behavioral health, chiropractic, women’s health, dental, medication assisted treatment, pharmacy, health education and transportation options. It also offers free services, such as incentive-driven tobacco cessation programs, diabetes education and management programs, dental baby days (education for new parents and children up to age 3), sexual health education programs and other integrated options to “treat the whole person.”

“I am very proud of the work and effort of our staff to reach out and serve our patients. We believe health is dynamic and that a holistic approach to addressing the whole person and family is key to maximizing well being and ultimately, the best approach to reducing healthcare disparities,” said James Yoxtheimer, CEO and president.

“In addition, we were pleased to achieve this award in partial recognition of the extra efforts made by our staff in response the pandemic,” added Yoxtheimer.

The award gave consideration to the outreach and survey efforts that staff and others, to include Dr. Beth McMahon and a survey team from Lock Haven University, undertook to ascertain the needs and impact of COVID on the River Valley patient base.

The center participated in a research-based study at the start of the pandemic, then provided results based on over 400 patients to an outside research team that provided funding used for ongoing planning and evaluation of the pandemic response.

“This patient-based, data-driven insight provided our health care providers with direction…” Yoxtheimer said.

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