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West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine hosted state NAACP conference

From The Register-Herald of Beckley

LEWISBURG, W.Va. – The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) hosted the state branch of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization on Aug. 25-26.

The school was the site of the annual conference of the West Virginia State Conference of Branches of the NAACP, whose theme for the 2023 event was “thriving together.”

The two-day gathering included reports from officers and committees, a banquet and special sessions on health disparities and chronic illness along with environmental and climate justice.

In welcoming NAACP members to the school’s Lewisburg campus, WVSOM President James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., pointed to successes the school has had in assisting a nonprofit organization committed to helping disadvantaged communities in Charleston, W.Va., with training community health workers.

Nemitz also emphasized the school’s work with Race Matters Inc., whose purpose is to improve the health outcomes of minority communities through education on health topics such as diabetes, blood pressure self-monitoring and chronic disease self-management.

“A medical school should do more than produce quality care and competent physicians. We should make a difference in the health of West Virginians,” Nemitz said. “There is a crisis in many African American communities because of a lack of access to health care, and while I’m proud of the work we’ve done in delivering programs specifically for the African American community, I want us to do more.”

James Nemitz

Nemitz said the medical school is committed to increasing diversity among its students and employees.

“To improve the diversity profile of the school, we need your help. We need you to go out there and tell people about WVSOM, to send us applicants, to help us develop programs to nurture children who want to be physicians,” he said. “The dean, the faculty and I are committed to improving our curriculum in terms of making students aware of the racial disparities in our country and teaching them about the need to understand the communities they’re going to work in and the patients they will see.”

In addition to constituents representing various areas of West Virginia, conference participants included Darryl Clausell, president of the NAACP’s West Virginia State Conference, and Loretta Young, president of the NAACP’s Greenbrier County branch and a founding member of Race Matters Inc.

Young helped the state NAACP select the campus as the conference site and said she welcomes future collaborations between WVSOM and Race Matters Inc.

“We would like to expand our partnership with WVSOM because we serve many rural areas where it’s not possible to have specialists, and we need to concentrate on how to help people change their lifestyles and get adequate care,” she said. “We want people to realize you can be healthy and be black.”

— WVSOM is a national leader in educating osteopathic physicians for primary care medicine in rural areas. Visit WVSOM online at www.wvsom.edu.

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