Editorials, Opinion

Stepping up when we need them

Today, we celebrate people who stepped up when the community needed them.

Let’s have a round of applause for Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer and Dr. Kevin Blankenship.

For months, Mylan workers and Morgantown community members begged representatives for help stopping the plant closure or securing a new owner. For months, we received little more than lip service from Gov. Jim Justice, Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and Rep. David McKinley. Our state Legislature did what it could, allotting funds to attract a new buyer. After everything else failed, Fleischauer tried something different.

She wrote a letter to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and asked the former Mylan plant be designated as critical infrastructure. After all, the pandemic has shown us that an overreliance on international suppliers over domestic manufacturing threatens our public health and our economic safety.

Fleischauer copied Manchin and Capito, McKinley, Justice, Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch, as well as a number of local legislators and public officials — several of whom have now jumped on her bandwagon.

House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw, McKinley and Manchin have now sent their own letters to CISA, hoping to convince Director Jen Easterly to give the plant CISA’s blessing. Capito leveraged her position as committee chair to speak to representatives at CISA to understand what power the agency had to keep the plant operational — which, unfortunately, might be none.

After months of nothing, it took Fleischauer making the first sincere move to open the floodgates of political activism. This may not end as we hoped, but at least we’re finally getting some answers as to what can and can’t be done.

Our second honoree, Blankenship, recognized the closure of MedExpress on Don Knotts Boulevard left a health care hole in southern Morgantown, then created a new urgent care to fill it.

There’s a national conversation around “health care deserts” — “a community at least 30 miles away from the nearest trauma care center,” according to Health magazine. We’re seeing a microcosm of this phenomenon: Medical services — from emergency to primary and everything in between — are increasingly concentrated on the Evansdale side of Morgantown.

When all you have is a sore throat that needs checked, or a cut that needs a few stitches, a trip to the hospital or the emergency room probably isn’t necessary. But without an urgent care center on the south side of Morgantown, going to either of the two hospitals or their subsidiaries in Evansdale is the only option. While that trip is more of an inconvenience to most, for people without access to reliable transportation, that trip becomes impossible.

Blankenship’s Waterfront Urgent Care brings the reassurance of access to medical care back to a community left confused and concerned after MedExpress’ sudden departure.

Waterfront Urgent Care officially opens tomorrow, Aug. 2. It’ll be open seven days a week, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at 215 Don Knotts Blvd., Suite 100.