For over a century, Appalachia has been defined as a region with severe poverty, poor education, and limited health care. In Southwest Virginia, the poverty rate is over 30% higher than it is for the rest of the U.S., and there are almost 80% more adults without high school diplomas. Health care disparities are just as dramatic. The age-adjusted death rate is almost 20% higher in the Appalachian region of Southwest Virginia compared to the rest of the state. That’s why two young doctors decided to do whatever they could to make a difference in peoples’ lives in this underserved area. They wanted to provide high quality, compassionate health care to people who needed it desperately. They wanted to connect with people on a personal level and take time to listen to them. They wanted to provide broad-spectrum family medical care that also addresses patients’ emotional and spiritual needs. Finally, they wanted to make a long-term commitment to be with and care for the people of this region.
Dr. Easton and Dr. Melton had no money, no staff, no building, and little experience. Yet in July 2000, they opened their first clinic in a small trailer across the street from the hospital in Lebanon, Virginia. Despite their limited resources, they soon were recognized regionally and won three Health Care Heroes Awards for their innovations in rural health care as well as for their contributions to help the poor receive free medications. In 2003, they opened another clinic in the neighboring community of Honaker, Virginia. Their patient numbers grew quickly, and in just five years, they had over 10,000 active patients and thirty staff members. In May 2006, they moved from their small trailer in Lebanon to an 8,500 square foot state-of-the-art health care facility in order to better serve the needs of their growing patient population. C-Health moved to the other side of Russell County in August 2010 and opened their St. Paul clinic. Today, C-Health is a health center featuring thirteen providers serving over 17,000 rural, underserved patients. We provide employment opportunities to 50 citizens of Russell County and are widely known for our excellent quality of service and innovative implementation of technology in healthcare delivery.