On May 24, 2021, Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) hosted two ribbon cutting ceremonies for the new state-of-the-art Heart and Vascular Institute expansion and the new location of the Appalachian Valley Autism (AVA) Center.  The ceremony was attended by Governor Andy Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers and a host of other local dignitaries.

The first of the two ribbon cutting events was held at the new location of the AVA Center, a move that became necessary within weeks of opening the initial 3,000 square foot facility in summer of 2020.  Due to an overwhelming need, the decision was made to move the AVA Center into the current four-story, 27,000 square foot Health & Well-Being Learning Center.  The AVA Center is the first comprehensive center of its kind in Eastern Kentucky, offering Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), speech, occupational and feeding therapies for children on the autism spectrum. Since opening, the AVA Center quickly expanded from Phase I to V to accommodate expansion and provide more opportunities for learners.

“We appreciate Governor Beshear and Congressman Rogers taking the time to tour the AVA Center and the Heart and Vascular Institute to witness the tremendous difference we are making in the lives of people in our region,” said PMC President and CEO Donovan Blackburn.  “Knowing that families in our region are not having to travel several hours for specialty services is wonderful.”

Specializing in early intervention and treatment, the AVA Center offers ABA therapy, which has been shown effective in increasing communication skills, improving attention and decreasing problem behaviors.  AVA Center therapists are specifically trained to work with newly diagnosed children as young as two years old.

“Pikeville Medical Center is meeting some specific advanced medical needs in the mountains, from autism to heart disease,” said Congressman Hal Rogers. “To help expand the innovative autism therapy taking place at the AVA Center, I have requested over $665,000 in federal Community Project Funding for a new Sensory Stimulation Activity Area. With nearly 200 children on the waiting list, it is clear that the AVA Center is meeting a major medical need in Eastern Kentucky.”

“Health care is a human right, and Kentuckians across the commonwealth deserve access to the state-of-the-art facilities and medical interventions like the ones we’re celebrating today at the new PMC Heart and Vascular Institute and the AVA Center,” said Governor Andy Beshear. “As we build a better Kentucky, I’m so excited to see the difference these resources will make for our people suffering from heart disease or living with autism. I’m grateful for the efforts of Congressman Rogers, PMC staff and local leaders to see these projects through, even during a global pandemic.”