Project Access® Network to include McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey Counties

Asheville, NC – Western Carolina Medical Society (WCMS) and Project Access® are pleased to announce the Project Access® Hub and Spoke Network, a new collaboration with CareReach, McDowell Access to Care and Health, Toe River Project Access and Mountain Community Health Partnership. This initiative will address access to specialty care and other critical resources for low-income, uninsured people living in those counties. This work is supported by a grant from Dogwood Health Trust.

“Dogwood Health Trust’s investment in the Project Access® network project means more low-income Western North Carolinians who are ineligible for Medicaid and cannot afford marketplace insurance will have access to specialty care, diagnostic care such as labs or imaging, and medications,” says Mariela Solano, Director of Health Access and Equity Programs at WCMS. “We are grateful to have their support!”

WCMS’ Project Access® provides free or low-cost comprehensive medical care to low-income (under 138% of the Federal Poverty Level), uninsured individuals as well as referrals and navigation for socio-economic resources in Buncombe and Madison counties. This grant will support partnerships with Mitchell, Yancey and McDowell counties to expand access for their low-income, uninsured residents to WCMS Project Access® resources. This grant also provides funding for interpreter services and transportation assistance. Project Access®, which is marking its 25th anniversary this year, has served more than 69,000 patients since 1996 and has been replicated in over 100 communities in 32 states.

“This will provide a great benefit to the people of McDowell County, helping them access specialty care that is not available locally and is out of reach due to lack of health insurance,” says Amy Stevens, MATCH Program Supervisor. “MATCH has always strived to serve the needs of the whole-person- this partnership will help us fulfill a very important piece of that mission.“

“CareReach and its Toe River Project Access program are thrilled to partner with WCMS Project Access in this collaborative effort to serve the uninsured population of Mitchell and Yancey counties,” notes Joseph Jones, Regional Program Manager, CareReach. “With so many of the region’s specialty practices based out of county, accessing specialty care can already be challenging given the distance it takes to reach medical providers. Lack of insurance adds significantly to the barriers that keep people from accessing vital care. We look forward to seeing the benefit this partnership brings to the Toe River Valley.”

“Everyone deserves to be healthy, and access to quality care is absolutely essential to maintain health. Project Access® has long been at the forefront of closing gaps in care access, and we are extremely pleased to help expand the reach of this innovative approach,” said Dr. Susan Mims, interim CEO of Dogwood Health Trust.

Dogwood Health Trust is a private foundation based in Asheville, North Carolina with the sole purpose of dramatically improving the health and wellbeing of all people and communities of 18 counties and the Qualla Boundary in Western North Carolina. Dogwood Health Trust focuses on innovative and equitable ways to address the many factors that contribute to overall health and wellbeing. With a focus on housing, education, economic opportunity and health and wellness, Dogwood Health Trust works to create a Western North Carolina where every generation can live, learn, earn and thrive, with dignity and opportunity for all, no exceptions. To learn more, please visit

Now in its seventh year, McDowell Access to Care and Health (MATCH) is a collaborative network that ensures access to whole-person, coordinated care for low-income, uninsured residents by connecting them to resources for medical health, behavioral health, and social safety net resources. Through outreach, co-location and community-based health events, the MATCH team reaches those who could benefit from free primary care, insurance coverage, and referrals to case management and community resources. MATCH is a partnership between McDowell Hospital and CareReach.

For almost 20 years Toe River Project Access (TRPA) has served uninsured residents of Mitchell and Yancey counties by linking them to health care and other essential health services.  A vital resource for these mountain communities, TRPA connects participants to a network of healthcare providers and partners, helps identify insurance options, and provides linkage to resources that help meet the social determinants of health. In January of 2021, TRPA moved to CareReach to continue its mission of improving the health of residents of the Toe River Valley, regardless of insurance status.

The Western Carolina Medical Society’s mission is to advocate for healthy communities, increase access to affordable healthcare, fight health inequities, and promote wellness in WNC. Since 1885, WCMS has been highly respected for its leadership and innovation in addressing issues of access to affordable health care, disparities in health, and wellness promotion. Throughout its history, WCMS has been at the forefront of working collaboratively with area organizations to address the health challenges facing our community’s residents.

For more information about the Western Carolina Medical Society contact Amy Barcomb, Director of Development at 828-274-2267 or or visit