PATH to build 3 health centers in Pender Schools

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - It's about to get easier for some kids in the Western side of Pender county to go to the doctor.  Members of the Pender Alliance for Teen Health or PATH say there isn't even a pediatrician on the western side of the county, meaning some kids have to drive 45 minutes just to go to the doctor.

However, thanks to a new grant all that is about to change. The Federal Government announcing this week that they will be giving PATH half a million dollars to build centers in the Pender County Schools.  PATH was working on building a center at West Pender Middle School using state grants, but with the additional funds they will also be able to build centers at Pender High School and Burgaw Middle School.

Organizers say even though the centers will be in mobile units, they will look a lot like a doctor's office, complete with three exam rooms, a lab, and a waiting room.

They say there's a large need in the western side of the county for accessible health care and with pediatricians so far away a lot of time it's hard for families to find the gas money and other funds to take their kids to the doctor.

"People have to travel a far distance and I think when you are trying to chose between putting groceries on the table or seeing the doctor, a lot of people will put seeing a doctor on the back burner," said Beth Gaglione, the executive director of PATH.

"I had a little boy who drove 45 minutes to come see me, and when I walked in the room he had a huge smile on his face and he said you are coming to my school, and that just made everything hit home," said Beth Deaton, the President of the PATH Board.

The first center will open at West Pender Middle School this spring.

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