History of the WVACHS

In October of 2014, a group of providers from six federally qualified health centers (Cabin Creek Health Systems, FamilyCare, Lincoln Primary Care, New River Health Association, Valley Health Systems, and Wirt Health Services Association) and one academic medical center (Charleston Area Medical Center Family Medicine) formed a primary care network dedicated to finding creative solutions to community health issues. The WVACHS has been maturing from that point to include additional primary care systems, organizations, and researchers. The network is a mixture of health care providers, health care administrators, and academic researchers. It was brought together by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission with funding and support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.
The WVACHS became an Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research registered practice-based research network in August, 2020 and became certified as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in May, 2021.
We love our communities and state, find great value in our work, and feel confident that together we can make significant impact on priority health issues in our state and region.
Our Team

Joanna Bailey, MD; Tug River Health Association

Joanna Bailey, MD is a board certified family physician working for the Tug River Health Association in Wyoming and McDowell Counties. 


​Adam Baus, PhD, MA, MPH; West Virginia University School of Public Health, Office of Health Services Research

Adam is a Research Assistant Professor with the West Virginia University School of Public Health. For the past 16 years, he has been fortunate to partner with primary care centers on quality of care improvement and practice-based research efforts through his position as Director of the West Virginia University Office of Health Services Research. He serves as the project director for the West Virginia Alliance for Creative Health Solutions.


Laura Boone, JD; Pallotine Foundation of Huntington

Laura is the Senior Program Officer at the Pallotine Foundation of Huntington.


Jennifer Boyd, PA-C; New River Health Association; West Virginia Primary Care Association

Jennifer Boyd is a Physician Assistant who has been practicing family medicine at New River Health Association since 1988. She is interested in research related to common issues faced by patients, practitioners and communities in West Virginia. Jennifer has worked with providers from Community Health Centers across West Virginia through her position with the West Virginia Primary Care Association and is also the Co-Director of the Practice Based Research Network of the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute.


Carolyn Canini; West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

Carolyn is the Director of Behavioral Health Programs with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.


Martha Carter, DHSc, MBA, APRN, CNM; formerly of FamilyCare Health Centers

Martha is the former CEO of FamilyCare Health Centers, a Community Health Center serving Putnam, Kanawha, Boone, and Cabell counties. She was in clinical practice as a Nurse-Midwife for 20 years.


Amber Crist, MS; Cabin Creek Health Systems

Amber is the Chief Operating Officer of Cabin Creek Health Systems.


Daniel Doyle, MD; Cabin Creek Health Systems

Dr. Dan Doyle has been a practicing family physician in Fayette County West Virginia since 1978.  He helped to found the New River Health Association, a federally qualified community health center in 1978 and has practiced there ever since. Dr. Doyle graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1968, Harvard Medical School in 1974, and completed a family medicine residency at the University of Massachusetts, Worcester in 1977. His teaching and research have focused on medical education for community health, evidence based practice, communication skills, and pulmonary rehabilitation. 


Michael Grome, PA-C; Lincoln Primary Care

Michael Grome is a certified Physician Assistant who practiced for over 30 years in rural West Virginia at the Lincoln Primary Care site of the Southern West Virginia Health Systems. His career interests include general Family Medicine but are now focused primarily on Elderly patients.  He is a current member of the Marshall Family Medicine Geriatrics Team.  He previously served on the Board of Medicine and the DHHR Pharmacy and Therapeutics committee for the state of West Virginia. He has a particular interest in the unique medical problems facing rural Appalachians.


Jandy Hanna, PhD, MSB.; West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine

Dr. Hanna is the Associate Dean, Research and Sponsored Programs with the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.


Sarah Hansen, APRN, AGNP-BC; Cabin Creek Health Systems

Sarah Hansen is a Adult/Geriatric Nurse Practitioner working at Cabin Creek Health Systems since 2016. She is a National Health Service Corp Scholar. She is overall interested in preventable diseases, chronic disease management and population health of rural West Virginia, specifically those conditions affecting older adults.


Tracy Hendershot, MD; Camden-Clark Primary Care

Dr. Hendershot is a family physician practicing in southern Wood County. He views the success of physician directed community based research as a quality marker of a health delivery system. He is the past President of the West Virginia Academy of Family Physicians and previous Paul Ambrose Health Policy Fellow.


Connor Levy, MPH; Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine

Connor is a medical student at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.


Mary Ann Maurer, DO; Charleston Area Medical Center

Dr. Maurer is a Family Medicine Specialist and Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at West Virginia University Health Sciences Charleston Campus.


Kevin McCann, MD; Marshall University

Dr. McCann is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Health at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University.  He has maintained a full time practice in Lavalette, Wayne County, West Virginia since 1997 and has served as the Health Officer for the Wayne County Health Department since 2004.  His areas of work in research include:  physician burnout, chronic pain management in primary care, diabetes and physical exercise.


Alexandra Persily, BS; University of Virginia School of Medicine

Alexandra Persily is a 2019 graduate of Wake Forest University, with a degree in biology and minors in chemistry, sociology, and psychology. During her college career, she had the opportunity to experience a summer internship with the Harm Reduction program at the Kanawha Charleston Health Department under the supervision of Dr. Michael Brumage. While there, she had the opportunity to work directly with persons affected by substance use disorder, and developed a deep understanding of the challenges faced by the population. In addition, her undergraduate research at Wake Forest studied the role of the prefrontal cortex in working memory. Currently, she is finishing her first year of medical school at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Her future interests include psychiatry, pediatrics, and primary care, with a special interest in underserved populations.


Cynthia Persily, PhD, RN; West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

Cynthia Persily PhD, RN, FAAN is currently Senior Director of Health Sciences at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. In this role, she is charged with identifying needs across the healthcare training and practice landscape and working to devise solutions by encouraging stakeholder collaboration, targeted grantmaking, and modifications to education and training programs. Policymaking activities include drafting legislation and regulations, preparing statutorily required reports and providing data and information for legislative requests. Dr. Persily provides oversight for a variety of rural health programs, as well as grant and scholarship initiatives, setting programmatic vision and expectations while advising program directors and participants. Special programs under the Health Sciences division focus on behavioral health, nursing workforce, rural health, primary care research networks and vulnerable population needs.

Dr. Persily holds a BSN from East Stroudsburg University, an MSN in Perinatal Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania, a PhD in Nursing and Health and Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania, and a post graduate certificate from West Virginia University as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Dr. Persily is a proud alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows program, a national nurse executive leadership program. She is also a graduate of Leadership America. Dr. Persily’s textbook “Team Leadership and Partnering in Nursing and Health Care” is used across the world by health sciences students developing team leadership skills.


Jordyn Reed; West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

Jordyn Reed is a Health Sciences Program Coordinator at the West Virginia Higher Educational Policy Commission. Her work at the Commission focuses on program development for health professions education, recruitment, and retention.


April L. Vestal, MPH, Director, West Virginia University Institute for Community and Rural Health

April L. Vestal is Director of the West Virginia University Institute for Community & Rural Health (WVUICRH). WVUICRH assists in the development and oversight of rural health programs for WVU health sciences students to aid in recruitment and retention of health care professionals to rural areas of West Virginia. April has worked in rural health education and recruitment of health professionals for over 26 years. She holds a BS degree in Organizational Management and Development from Bluefield College and Master of Public Health from West Virginia University.


Robert Walker, MD; West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

Dr. Walker is a Consultant to the Division of Health Sciences with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.


Mathew Weimer, MD; Valley Health System

Along with his involvement in the WVACHS, Dr. Mathew Weimer is a family physician and Chief Quality Officer for Valley Health Systems in Huntington. He is the chair of the Protocol Review Committee for the West Virginia Practice-Based Research Network, is a past chair of the Chief Medical Officer committee of the West Virginia Primary Care Association, and is a member of the Clinical Practice Committee of the National Association of Community Health Centers. He also serves on the board of directors for, and is the medical director of, the Aledade West Virginia Health Center Accountable Care Organization.


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