TAZEWELL, Va. — A feasibility study for a project in Tazewell County could lead to the “mass scale production” of a medical screening kit with a worldwide market.

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) officially presented a previously announced grant for $170,000 to the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) Wednesday to finance a medical screening convenience kit manufacturing feasibility study and the build-out of a medical incubator site in the county.

“If the pilot project is successful in the VCEDA region, the hope is that Tazewell County can become the location for mass scale production of the medical screening convenience kits which would lead to significantly more employment,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “We look forward to seeing the results of the feasibility study when it is complete.”

The feasibility study will look at the development and manufacturing possibilities for a cervical cancer medical screening convenience kit to improve health and foster economic diversification through new medical technologies.

“This is exciting news for our region,” said Virginia Delegate James W. “Will” Morefield, R-Tazewell County. “A healthy community is a strong community and we are making every effort to improve access to healthcare in Southwest Virginia. The development and manufacturing of medical devices used to improve the quality of life for women in Southwest Virginia and around the world will only help our efforts to diversify the economy.”

State Sen. Travis Hackworth, R-Tazewell County, said the project is good for the economy and also relates to a health concern.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our region,” he said. “A pilot program such as this is more than just an economic development benefit, it also addresses a serious health concern for our community. I am hopeful for the many women who will benefit from these cervical cancer screening  kits and appreciative of the collaboration between VCEDA, Tazewell County, Clinch Valley Medical Center and Moein Health. Making our community healthy and creating jobs is a wonderful combination.”

According to VCEDA, The IDA is partnering with Moein Health, LLC on the project and will utilize the grant for the renovations and furnishings needed at the incubator site; for equipment; medical kit materials for the pilot study project; assembly of the medical kits; and to deploy the medical kits in the region in association with health partners.

The project application said a key to the success of the project is collaboration with Clinch Valley Medical Center. The project also seeks to provide the test kits it produces through the Health Wagon and Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinics.

Moein Health LLC is a California limited liability company founded and developed a patented new screening method for cervical cancer which can be done in one clinic visit, the VCEDA said. The screening kits are cost-effective, not highly technical and designed for use in mobile units and mission clinics.

“With a potential market of billions of women, Moein Health sees great potential for the cervical cancer screening kits which could also save many lives by making the screening easier, more available and increase the likelihood of earlier screening,” the application to VCEDA said.

According to the application materials presented to VCEDA, in 2018, cervical cancer ranked in the top three cancers affecting women younger than 45 years of age making cervical cancer a global threat to the lives of young women, negatively impacting the world economy.  In Appalachian states, rates of cervical cancer are higher than the U.S. average.

“On behalf of the IDA Board of Tazewell County, we are excited and pleased to support Moein Health and the medical needs of Southwest Virginia as well as the world,” said Kyle Hurt, chairman of the Tazewell County IDA. “We are excited that Moein Health, in collaboration with Clinch Valley Medical Center, is choosing Tazewell County as their location to begin US-FDA trials for the new medical screening convenience kit.”

Hurt said he is optimistic about the project.

“We are confident that the Moein Health team will successfully establish the new cervical cancer procedure and begin the second phase of Moein Health growth within Tazewell County,” he said. “This patented procedure will be a blessing for women’s health across the USA and indeed the world. With the assistance of VCEDA and the Tazewell County IDA, we expect great things here in Tazewell County from the Moein Health team.”

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com 

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