School of Medicine health policy fellows to study West Virginia water crisis

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Three Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine resident physicians in the department of family and community health who are also Paul Ambrose Health Policy Fellows will spend the month of February at the West Virginia Legislature reviewing the state’s recent water crisis and its health policy and health care implications, as well as other health-related legislation.

Dr. Kimberly R. Becher, Dr. Matthew Q. Christiansen and Dr. Kane A. Maiers started their month-long rotation Monday. Health policy fellows at Marshall have been providing physician resources to the legislative leadership since the program was created in 2010.

“As health policy fellows, we are plugged into the issues that affect the health of our state’s citizens, both on the individual level as well as the state level,” said Maiers. “There are many, many facets of this far-reaching water crisis and as physicians interested in public health policy, we felt devoting much of our time this session to reviewing the state’s infrastructure, response and public health policy in regard to the crisis would be beneficial.”

Dr. Stephen M. Petrany, co-director of the health policy track at Marshall and recently named chair of the department of family and community health, said one of the original goals of the Paul Ambrose Fellowship Program was to help young physicians fine-tune their leadership skills so they can effectively contribute to the health policy process.

“We are fortunate to have three bright, young physicians who are interested in exploring health policy in our state,” he said. “Our department is working hand in hand with Drs. Becher, Christiansen and Maiers to provide assistance in their research of this particular health issue and applaud them for their commitment.”

Jennifer Plymale, who serves with Petrany as co-director of the program and is also director of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health, said it’s a wonderful opportunity for the residents as well as members of the Legislature.

“Drs. Becher and Maiers have participated in this program for three years and have learned much about the legislative process, while in turn providing a great resource for lawmakers,” Plymale said. “These physicians are on the front line, seeing patients every day, and their input on all kinds of health legislation is invaluable.”

The health policy program is a partnership of Marshall’s department of family and community health, Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health, and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. It was inspired by and named for Paul Wesley Ambrose, a Marshall medical alumnus whose life and dynamic health policy career were cut short on Sept. 11, 2001.

Date Posted: Wednesday, February 5, 2014