Virginia Tech class mobilizes for health outreach program

vtech-logoWhen The Health Wagon, a spiffy 2014-model motorhome, rolled onto the Drillfield this week, it wasn;t there to deliver flu shots or accept blood donations, but rather to tell a story.

Thanks to the efforts of a Virginia Tech communication class, the vehicle was on campus to draw attention to one of the state’s critical healthcare needs.

The Health Wagon takes medical personnel and services to needy people in six far southwestern Virginia counties who otherwise would have none. Visiting Assistant Professor Kelly McBride’s public relations campaigns class reached out to the program’s staff this semester to lend communication expertise.

Dividing into teams, the 30-member class arranged for The Health Wagon to travel to Blacksburg from its home bases in Wise and Clintwood, Virginia. The “Follow the Wagon” team, managed by senior public relations major Courtney Edwards of Richmond, Virginia, created a media packet and a public-service announcement and arranged a visit by the program’s corporate donors to see the new vehicle on campus.

Another student team focused on auto racing, a popular pastime in the region served, and succeeded in having The Health Wagon’s logo placed on a NASCAR vehicle that raced in late October. Another group worked on diabetes awareness with medical groups on and off campus to recruit interns and volunteers.

A third team’s contribution was technical support to the organization’s social media and Web sites, fixing broken links, Tweeting, and posting on Facebook.

“Working on this event taught me that effective communication is key to success,” Edwards said. “You need to communicate with your client to plan details and key messages. You also need to communicate with the media through press kits and releases, follow-up phone calls, and emails. I know that when this event is successfully launched for The Health Wagon, it will all be worth it.”

Founded in 1980 by the Medical Missionaries of Mary through the Richmond Catholic Diocese, The Health Wagon began its journey in a Volkswagen Beetle. Until purchase of the latest vehicle, the organization’s mobile health unit was a 2002 motorhome that had logged many thousands of miles along steep, winding secondary roads.

In 2013, The Health Wagon helped more than 11,000 patients with health care valued at more than $1 million. Further, with help from pharmaceutical companies, the Virginia Health Care Foundation, and the Mountain Empire Older Citizens agency, it provided $1.2 million in pharmacy assistance.

Primary funding for The Health Wagon has historically come from grants, but the program recently lost a sizable federal subsidy. Private donors stepped forward, and one of the student teams has contacted the region’s major hospital corporations about doing the same.

Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, said the class’s involvement is a wonderful example of how students across the liberal arts are well positioned to integrate what they learn in the classroom into practical and humanly transformative outcomes.

“The Health Wagon offers life-changing access to better medicine, but medicine alone is not enough; these communication students are contributing their expertise to make sure that those who might benefit know about the program and what it offers,” said Spiller.

McBride noted with pride that her students have planned events for next semester, long after the class is over, including a dinner auction to be held at the speedway in Pulaski County.

“They are committed to attending and working,” she said.

The new Health Wagon will be on the Drillfield today starting at 10 a.m. Its staff will be on hand to lead tours of the unit for university students, faculty and staff, and campus visitors.

augusta free press
augusta free press news

UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Buy here.

AFP Business

As professional consultants, Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including website design, SEO, TV/radio, video work, branding and logos, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation. Augusta Free Press LLC was founded in 2002.

Web Design

Augusta Free Press has designed more than 800 websites for clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design, content development and SEO. Short on staff? We’ll work with you to update your AFP-designed website in a timely manner or train your staff to make changes.

Marketing/Social Media Management

Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

Graphic Design

Augusta Free Press will help you take your vision to the next level. From branding and logos to print materials, our team will work with you to develop products to showcase your business. From brochures and rack cards to full-color magazines or print/digital ads, we’ve got you covered.

Event Planning/Fundraising

Augusta Free Press will help you plan the best event for your organization. From an open house or anniversary to a 5K or Pay Per View, we can handle it all. Looking for training for your sales staff? We can help energize your employees or board. Need ideas to raise more money? Let us help you plan a successful event. Want to hold a news conference or need help with a press release? We can do that too.

Click here for more.