On June 2, 1999, United States Senator Robert C. Byrd dedicated the Marshall University Center for Rural Health. Constructed with federal funding secured by Byrd, the Center for Rural Health serves as the base for Marshall's rural medicine outreach programs, which directly affect more than half of West Virginia's counties.
The Center for Rural Health represents a transformation in the supports for rural health care, according to Dr. Charles H. McKown, M.D., dean of Marshall's School of Medicine. "The Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health represents for this region a dramatic transition in health care and health services and in the impact the medical profession can make on the health and well-being of communities," he said. "Now we can provide services to address problems in a more integrated and functional manner than ever, ever before, while at the same time continuing to improve our ability to educate new physicians."
"Like so many of Senator Byrd's visionary projects, the Center for Rural Health's impact will steadily increase over time, bringing benefits to future generations as well as our own," McKown added. "The School of Medicine and the people of rural West Virginia deeply appreciate his support for this important project."
Major projects underway at the Center for Rural Health include diabetes care, smoking cessation, care for rural elders and rural cancer prevention. The center also houses an ultra-modern learning technology center which will be used to support rural providers, as well as offices for two regional positions of the West Virginia Department of Health: the tobacco control office and the community health promotion/disease prevention specialist. In addition, the center contains an auditorium and teleconferencing center, the health sciences library and administrative offices of the School of Medicine.
Byrd secured $4.5 million in federal funding for the Center for Rural Health, as well as $2.45 million for the University Physicians Center. The two centers make up the Marshall University Medical Center, which is part of the Cabell-Huntington Hospital health sciences campus.