By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
The new St. George Canaan Valley Clinic and St. George Canaan Valley Pharmacy hosted an open house to welcome invited guest and staff to the new facility. Chief Operations Manager Julie Strawderman welcomed everyone and said, “This is an exciting time for St. George Medical Clinic. We are very excited to be in the valley now.” Strawderman had everyone stand for the National Anthem and the introduced Chief Executive Officer Paul Wamsley, Jr.
Wamsley welcomed everyone to the dedication and said, “This has been three years in the making with lots of difficulties, but we made sure it happened. We really pulled together. The staff pulled together. The board pulled together. We made it happen.”
St. George Medical Center, Inc is vastly adding ways to serve the residents of Tucker County and surrounding counties and Wamsley gave a background of St. George Clinic. St. George started in 1979 as just a trailer with three exam rooms. and one provider. In 2007 they had 12 employees. In 2014 with the help from the Sisters of St. Joseph they opened a school-based clinic in Hambleton with 26 employees.
In 2016 they added the St. George Medical Clinic Dental Services adjacent to the school-based facility. Wamsley said, “Dental was such a huge asset to the curriculum of St. George Clinic and to the community that we serve.” They quickly outgrew that space in that facility and added a separate dental facility in 2018.
Also, in 2018 St. George added the behavior health wing called the “Woody Nester Health Wing” and has grown three-fold. Wamsley said, “It was at that dedication that Diane Hinkle said this was great but do not forget about Canaan. Diane was very persistent and every time we met her; she said do not forget about us. We did not forget you, Diane.”
The pandemic hit in 2020, and after the declaration of the pandemic St. George decided to form an administration team due to the quickly growing number of patients and 56 employees on staff. Wamsley said, “We developed an administration team that could not only protect the patients and staff during the pandemic but also kept the mission of St. George Clinic at heart.”
The administrative team was present at the open house and introduced themselves to the guests. Those team members consisted of Physician Assistant and Chief Medical Officer Solena Roberts, Chief Operations Manager Julie Strawderman, Quality Improvement Manager Chantel Jones, Chief Informational and Compliance Officer Dani Lambruno, RN and Nurse Manager Emily Ramsey, Psychologist and Director of Behavior Health Amber Gump, and Director of St. George Dental Clinic Dr. Christopher Payne, DDS.
Wamsley said, “It is the team members beside me that actually has provided the grounding for the clinic itself. We also say we start the day with a blank puzzle. And as the day progresses the pieces of the puzzle get put together. And it is each of these team members that makes up those pieces of that puzzle. Different shapes; different sizes; different colors. They always seem to make the puzzle piece fit.
There might be a piece of that puzzle missing but it’s always the team members that actually finds the puzzle piece and puts the puzzle back in its place. At the end of the day with the team we have established nothing gets dismantled, nothing gets by them, and actually it is creating a masterpiece of a puzzle. The next day we start blank again with new hurdles and new goals.”
The construction of the clinic became a reality because of the American Rescue Plan that made it possible to apply for a grant. Wamsley said, “Senator Manchin has been a huge supporter of community health centers throughout the time I have been in service here. And community health centers always experience a bipartisan support politically. It does not come easy. Obviously when you are in the political world you have to write letters first and continuously address our Senators and our politicians to make sure our funding continues, and they always hear us.” Wamsley then introduced Senator Manchin’s representative, Frank Jezioro.
Jezioro said, “As I look around, I see some of the people I have seen before and some of you that I know. When Senator Manchin was Governor, I went in as Director of DNR (Director of Natural Resources) and for ten years did a lot of work in this area. But I have watched it grow all my life. This a special place and I know a lot of you are aware of that and that is why you are here. When I first came up here in High School in 1962 there was one gas station in Canaan Valley. That was it. There was nothing else here and I have watched it grow over the years as the population grew and the people became aware of what a beautiful place it was and now you have services here.
You have an older population in Thomas, Davis, and around the area. And you have transit people coming in and Senator Manchin realized the importance of this. Maybe a little bit of self-serving because he has a house right down the road.”
Jezioro went on to read a greeting from Senator Manchin to the St. George Medical Clinic. In his greeting Manchin thanked the St. George Clinic for opening the newest clinic in Canaan. Jezioro read, “Tucker County is truly a beautiful place and when West Virginians work together for the good of their neighbor there is nothing that can get in the way. I sincerely thank everyone that made today’s event possible. As well as many administrators, staff, and supporters for providing excellent care. The work that you are doing is truly impactful and you make our state an even better place to work, live, and raise a family one project at a time.”
Wamsley finished by thanking everyone involved in helping make the completion of the clinic possible and welcomed the new staff of the St. George Canaan Valley Clinic and Pharmacy. Following a ribbon cutting ceremony guests were invited it to dine on lunch served by local restaurants and food venders. The new clinic is located at 6368 Appalachian Highway, Davis and is open Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The pharmacy will be open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.