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Debbie previously worked as the Economic Development Director of Patrick County in rural, southwestern Virginia. In 2017, the local hospital closed, in part because Virginia had not yet expanded its Medicaid program, which would have reduced uncompensated care. After the closure, Debbie faced a difficult challenge: how to continue to recruit businesses to the area without a hospital in the county.
“If you’re trying to bring businesses in, access to health care is just critical,” Debbie said.
The closure of the only hospital in the county was not just bad for business and the local economy, but also for residents who worry about family and community members experiencing a health care emergency. “When mom and dad have grown up here, but the kids don’t live in town anymore, what are they going to do?” Debbie said.