The COVID-19 pandemic has left hundreds of thousands of Virginians without jobs and health insurance coverage.

Project Connect, a special new partnership among the Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF), the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC) and Sentara Healthcare has recently launched to help many local residents obtain needed health insurance from the state.

The Commission and Sentara have provided funding to VHCF for an Outreach Worker who will provide 1:1 application assistance to families and individuals interested in obtaining state coverage. Effective immediately, Liz Cunningham from the Virginia Legal Aid Society is available to provide information about Virginia’s Medicaid program and to help people apply. She can be reached at (434) 515-0497.

“Many of those newly unemployed or whose hours have been cut by the pandemic may not realize they now qualify for Medicaid coverage”, said Deborah Oswalt, VHCF’s executive director. “Our Outreach Workers are specially trained to assist local citizens with the application and enrollment process to ensure they have coverage for the medical care, behavioral health services and prescription medicines they need.”

“We are committed to helping area residents navigate the Medicaid application process to get needed coverage and to do so safely in a remote or socially distanced way,” said David Neumeyer, director of the Virginia Legal Aid Society.

Edward Owens, TRRC chairman stated, “There is nothing more important than the health and wellbeing of our communities and I am proud that the commission is supporting this effort to ensure that as many people in Southern and Southwest Virginia have access to care as possible. While the Tobacco Commission is usually associated with job creation efforts, it is important that we have a healthy workforce if we are to realize the commission’s vision of developing a diverse economy in the regions we serve.”  

If a person wants to apply for Medicaid health coverage on his own, there are several methods available. In addition to the newly funded Outreach Worker, a person can visit or call Cover Virginia at (855) 242-8282 for additional information about Medicaid or assistance applying for coverage.

The Virginia Health Care Foundation is a non-profit public/private partnership with a mission to increase access to primary health care for uninsured and medically underserved Virginians. The foundation was initiated by the General Assembly and its Joint Commission on Health Care in 1992. Since its inception, it has funded 437 community-based initiatives across the Commonwealth, and its programs and partnerships have touched the lives of more than 700,000 uninsured Virginians.

For more information about VHCF and its programs, partnerships and initiatives, visit or call (804) 828-5804.