GRAFTON—United States Congressman David McKinley says that he is of the firm belief that to better serve a community, one must first meet with its members.
In an effort to better serve the residents of Taylor County, McKinley makes time during his “down time” to meet with groups, organizations and other members of the community.
“Quite frankly, when I first went to congress 8 years ago, I didn’t know what was going on. What was happening in Washington, what was happening in the district, how do we interact or any of that,” McKinley shared. “So, for the past eight years, we have been meeting with people in the district and taking that information back to Washington.”
Recently, he paid a visit to the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department and met with Board of Health members, along with some key players from the department, to discuss some of the health issues within the county.
“What we are talking about in Washington is not always what you all are talking about back in Grafton. We’ve done over 300 of these meetings, that have allowed us to listen and hear what is actually going on,” he explained.
One of the areas discussed was the growing need for behavioral health for residents.
Grafton-Taylor County Health Department Administrator Boyd Vanhorn said that one of the main issues the department faces is that they are given funding based on the size of the county, and often the issues the larger areas are facing, Taylor County also faces.
“We are often overlooked here,” he expressed.
McKinley said that although there is the perception that the federal government has reduced funding, that is not the case. He said that the same amount of funds are being issued, but the dispersing entity is splitting it up differently.
According to Board of Health Member Jeff Isner, the board feels that it is very important to address issues or potential issues with the children, to better get a handle on the situation.
“It really is about the kids,” he noted. “If we can start resolving the issues at that level, then we will have a better shot at getting it under control. We have to break the cycle.”
While discussing the budding Behavioral Health program, Board of Health member Wilda Swisher revealed that when trying to gain the credentials, they often feel as if they are having to jump through hoops.
“One of our biggest obstacles is the state. We are passed around from one person to the next and given the run around,” she said.
Receiving grant funding was another issue that the roundtable addressed.
Vanhorn told the congressman that they often run into nit-picking when it comes to grant applications, sharing that they were once rejected on a grant because of a hyphen in between the Grafton and Taylor County in their name.
McKinley voiced his frustration with the grant process.
“See, this is the thing that really gets me irritated,” he voiced. “These grant applications that get turned down because someone didn’t dot their I or cross their T correctly, is just infuriating. When that happens, you contact my office and we will make some noise on your behalf.”
He told the group that he feels so strongly about organizations receiving grant monies, that he works closely with them to help secure funding, and that if he could be of any help, to let his office know.
For an example he shared that he was upset with veterans in the area not being awarded money that they were owed, so he hired someone whose job it was to secure the funds.
“He kept on top of those people denying grants because of the ‘improperly’ dotted I’s or crossed T’s, and in no time, he was able to secure over $3.8 million in money that was supposed to go to the vets,” McKinley shared.
During the meeting, McKinley took time to go around the table and ask each of the individuals if they were granted one wish in health care, what it would be.
After hearing and noting the issues discussed, McKinley told the attendees that he would take the concerns and possible solutions back to Washington.
Congressman McKinley’s Field Representative Wendy Madden told Board of Health and health department members that she had some connections that may be able to help them with some of their grant issues.
“If you ever need anything—help with grants, information or possible connections—please do not hesitate to contact Wendy or myself,” McKinley shared. “We want you to know that we are here for you and will help in any way that we can.”