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Building a healthy and sustainable West Virginia

It was a treat to attend the second meeting of the board of “Healthy Harrison” (part of the philosophy to take West Virginia’s health status from last to first) in Bridgeport recently.

Harrison County, W.Va.

What a great start the stakeholders in Harrison County are making in that quest. As their first formal project they are collaborating and partnering with the Jarvis 10k Run to increase participation and expand its scope to a community health and wellness event.

Not only were community leaders from Harrison County at the meeting, but Dr. Dino Beckett, DO, who oversees “Sustainable Williamson” attended as a guest and partner. Dino was the former student body president at West Virginia University, and is a great leader.

Of note, Sustainable Williamson was recognized as one of six Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health award in the United States in 2014. Wow!

Dino recounted his approach as he returned home to Williamson from graduating at the WV School of Osteopathic Medicine and a family medicine residency at WVU Charleston.

Harrison County, W.Va.

He organized the Williamson Redevelopment Authority to focus on the health of the population and started the Williamson Health and Wellness Center. He and others also founded Sustainable Williamson, which focuses on not only the health of the population, but the economic redevelopment through entrepreneurship.

A good lesson to us is that Dino and his colleagues started with no budget. They just got started.

They painted street lights that had been left with primer on them for many years, fixed up old buildings, planted community gardens, started walking competitions and started a running club.

Williamson, in the heart of coal country, has experienced a rebirth under the leadership of Sustainable Williamson and Dino. It now serves as a model for the state and the country to follow.

All that it takes are bright spots like Dino in Williamson to show others the way.

Not only is he giving great healthcare, he is giving hope to his home town and his family, friends and neighbors across the state (like Healthy Harrison, and others).

At WVU, we talk about going first.

Dino Beckett and Sustainable Williamson are going first and leading by an example to all of us.