Bob Whitler and his wife Kathie.

The health of people in rural and underserved communities has been the guiding light of Bob Whitler’s life ever since he was a Peace Corps volunteer in the west African nation of Senegal, bringing clean water to isolated villages, 50 years ago.

Since then, Bob has become one the leading figures of West Virginia’s public health community.

After moving to West Virginia from his native Illinois (via Senegal) in 1968, he worked for WVU Extension Service and then for the Charleston Division/ WVU Medical Center.

In 1978 Bob and his wife and young son lived in Sierra Leone, where Bob was Associate Peace Corps Director for Health and Rural Development.

Back in West Virginia, he worked for the West Virginia Hospital Association establishing its first small and rural hospital committee, and was Vice President for Public Policy.

Bob is now Executive Director of the Partners in Health Network, Inc., a collaborative network of healthcare organizations, and Vice President for Government and Community Affairs at Charleston Area Medical Center.

We need this diversity of ideas, to come together to work toward real solutions.

Bob says that right now is a pivotal moment for West Virginia as it struggles to address the massive public health crises that threaten the future of the state.

“Our challenge is both exciting and daunting at the same time,” he says.

It’s why Bob believes so strongly in the importance of the West Virginia Rural Health Association.

“Something very powerful happens when you bring together players from different sectors of the healthcare community, from universities and researchers to the folks working in hospitals and clinics,” he says. “We need this diversity of ideas, to come together to work toward real solutions.”

You can join passionate and committed healthcare professionals like Bob Whitler as a member of the West Virginia Rural Health Association.

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As Chair of West Virginia Rural Health Association’s Policy Committee, Bob is eager for the state’s health community to drive positive changes to local laws and legislation that tackle real health problems.

In particular, he’s excited to explore the potential of community paramedicine in West Virginia’s rural communities, allowing licensed paramedics to provide an expanded range of health services to patients in isolated areas.

He also anticipates the West Virginia Rural Health Association helping state legislators weigh the benefits of a sweetened beverages tax this coming legislative session, to provide additional funding for desperately-needed health programs across the state.

“The West Virginia Rural Health Association is the focal point for very important issues that impact the entire state,” Bob says. “Our ability to improve the health of people in West Virginia has a massive impact on everything, from the strength of our workforce, our education system, and what the future looks like for our kids and our grandkids. There is no greater challenge right now.”

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