Dual ribbon-cutting ceremonies signal better access to care in the Bluegrass State


PIKEVILLE, KY (WOWK) — Local and state leaders came together Monday in Pike County for some special ceremonies.

The two ribbon cutting ceremonies held at the Pikeville Medical Center serve as the beginning of an era of increased access to great medical care right there in the region.

The Appalachian Valley Autism Center—or AVA Center—was the first ceremony held.

“This is a re-dedication in fact,” says Ron Burchett, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Pikeville Medical Center.

The event marked the growth into a larger space—from 3,000 square feet to 27,000—indicative of the growing need for this autism center.

“We have about 26 ‘learners’ we call them right now and hope to go to about 120, but we still have a waiting list of many dozens beyond that,” Burchett says.

It was a recognition of need which spurred co-director of the AVA Center Debbie Blackburn into motion on this project.

“A year ago in December, my granddaughter was diagnosed as being on the spectrum,’ Blackburn says, ‘First thing we asked was ‘what do we do?’ and they said move. And that was unacceptable for us.” 

It was also unacceptable for the governor.

“If we believe that healthcare is truly something that everybody should have, that should be accessible, should be affordable, it means that every child in this region should have a place right here,” says Governor of Kentucky Andy Beshear.

The rapid progress on the AVA Center wasn’t the only achievement celebrated at the Pikeville Medical Center, either.

The second ribbon cutting took place at the Heart and Vascular Institute, signaling the fruition of a $53 million dollar expansion.

U.S. Congressman for Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District Hal Rogers says this comes at a crucial time for the region, since heart disease is currently the leading cause of death in Kentucky.

“So there’s no better place for 13 physicians to be housed in one location to tackle the life-saving heart disease battle than we face here in these mountains,” Rogers says.

“And in-between the two facilities, about 34 million dollars of investment in Pike County,” Beshear says.

For more information about the AVA Center, visit their website here.

For more information about the Heart and Vascular Institute, visit their website here.

For more information about the Pikeville Medical Center, visit their website here.

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