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About IRH

Institute for Rural Health

The Institute for Rural Health (IRH) is housed within the College of Health and Human Services at Western Kentucky University. Most people know us for our two Mobile Units: The Mobile Health Unit and the Mobile Dental Unit. However, there is more to us than meets the eye.

Services currently provided by the Mobile Health Unit by Registered Nurse, Renea Watkins, include health care screenings for cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure and bone density; and health education in the areas of heart health, diabetes prevention and control and hypertension.  The Mobile Health and Wellness Unit also offers influenza vaccinations for our "Immunize Your Staff" program with Warren County Schools.

Services currently provided on the Mobile Dental Unit by Daniel Carter, DMD, and Bonny Petty, RDH, include the Dental Sealant Program, a service offered to 2nd and 7th grade students in our service area. The appointments are made with the help of the school in which the service is provided. Other programs currently offered by the Mobile Dental Unit are the fluoride varnish program and the Adult Dental Care Program. The fluoride varnish program is offered to Head Start Programs in and around Warren County. Appointments are made in advance with the help of the Head Start Program Coordinators at the school in which the service is being provided. The Adult Dental Care Program is offered to various community agencies including McCreary County Dental Blitz, Housing Authority locations, and other communities in the 27-county regional service area. Appointments for this program are made in advance with a liaison at the collaborating agency.

 In addition to providing health and dental care in our regional service area, the staff at IRH work daily on research projects, community outreach projects, and grant opportunities. The IRH works in constant collaboration with several departments on campus and within the college including Public Health, Allied Health, Nursing, and many other departments. All of the staff at the Institute for Rural Health are very dedicated to providing quality health care and health education across the state.

Our first Mobile Unit was acquired in 2001 from funding attained through a federal Health Research and Services Administration (HRSA) grant. This unit served a dual purpose and housed both our Health and Wellness services and our Dental Health Services.

Upon arrival at WKU, the Mobile Unit looked like this:

Original Unit

After a renovation to make the unit fully compatible for a multitude of dental services, it currently looks like this:

mobile dental unit

In 2008, Anthem gave a very generous donation that allowed the purchase of a second unit that would be used for Health and Wellness purposes.  That unit looks like this:

mobile health unit



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 Last Modified 8/24/17