Chamber News

Sep 22, 2017

MCCC Bertie’s Place opens in Wheelwright

MCCC Bertie’s Place opens in Wheelwright


Officials from throughout the county joined community members in Wheelwright on Sept. 22 to celebrate the opening of the new Mountain Comprehensive Care Center facility.

MCCC Bertie’s Place opens in Wheelwright


Officials from throughout the county joined community members in Wheelwright on Sept. 22 to celebrate the opening of the new Mountain Comprehensive Care Center facility. And as it turns out, that facility - geared to provide all sorts of programs to help Southern Floyd County residents - would not have been possible without the generous donation from two families.

MCCC stepped into the picture years ago, when Alberta "Bertie" and Alfred Rhea donated a nine-room house to the organization, but the house - a former boarding facility for coal mines who came to Wheelwright to work - was also donated to the Rhea family years before they donated it to MCCC.

“Miss Bertie,” as she was affectionately known, worked for Hilton and Ruby Garrett, the family that originally owned the property and operated it as a boarding house. Bertie cared for the owners when they became ill, so they left her the property when they died.

“So, it is like a gift that keeps on giving,” MCCC Marketing Director Dorian Moe said. “Because now, we will always be giving something through our services to our clients.”

On Sept. 22, Bertie's daughter Alfreda Rhea Barnes, who traveled from Maryland for the grand opening, thanked MCCC and the community for helping her mother's dream come true.

“This is a dream come true, one that my mother had,” she told the crowd. “She was a community person, one that love to help others. No one could know her and not know the love that she showed for each person that she met.”

Pointing out around 10 Rhea family members who attended the ceremony, she said the family is proud to see the MCCC clinic open in Wheelwright.

“We are proud to be a part of helping in the community,” she said.

Bertie died in 1997 and her husband Alfred died last year. Barnes said his mother worked as a registered nurse at McDowell ARH hospital and spent some time working as a home health nurse in Floyd prior to her death. She said her mother always wanted to turn the home into a facility that helps children, but she wasn't able to finalize plans before she died. She said she and her father reach out to MCCC after Bertie died because they wanted to find an organization that could help fulfill her mother's dream.

MCCC initially planned to open a children's treatment center there, but the house was in disrepair and had to be torn down, so the organization changed plans.

It built the new clinic with assistance from the city of Wheelwright, which authorized a $500,000 Community Development Block grant for the $700,000 project.

“We’re just glad to have this facility,” Wheelwright Mayor Don “Booty” Hall said. “It's a big thing in our community. We welcomed you with open arms, we got CDGB; we got everything set up. We just want to thank the Mountain Comp people from wanting to come here, you see what I'm saying? I'm just glad they wanted, they chose us… I think the community will enjoy it and a lot of people will find it useful."

MCCC Executive Director Promond Bishnoi said the clinic will ease the travel burden for some MCCC clients and give others the opportunity to get help they might otherwise not have been able to receive.

"The services are so needed in the community," he said. “We had a lot of folks who were traveling from Wheelwright to come to our Martin clinic and some, to Prestonsburg, but now we are able to provide services right here, so they don't have to travel as far.

He said the travel burden kept some clients from seeking help, but now, they have a facility close to home. “There were some who would come to our Martin clinic, but some just didn’t participate in services at all, so now, they can participate,” he said. Bertie’s Place is one of several clinics that offer therapeutic rehabilitation services for adults with severe mental disabilities in Floyd and the surrounding counties. MCCC also has clinics providing these services in Martin, Prestonsburg, Pikeville, Paintsville, Inez and Salyersville.

In Wheelwright, clinic services will go beyond therapeutic rehabilitation. In addition to the day treatment center program, the clinic will also provide outpatient substance-abuse counseling and other services MCCC offers for children and adults. Clinic director Trina Caudill reported that MCCC is partnering with the Floyd County Health Department to offer health care services there and clinic clients can be connected to providers via telehealth service that will be provided there.

She teared up when she talked about the donation.

“The compassion touches my heart, just knowing that somebody offered the property and gave it to us to provide these services,” she said. “It says so much about what their mother had done. It’s just really moving. “

She believes having the clinic in Wheelwright will save lives because it offers residents of Southern Floyd County access to services they may not otherwise be able to receive.

Josh Ball, associate Executive Director of Shaping Our Appalachian Region said the project shows “the power of collaboration.” He said part of sores regional blueprint to build a 21st-century Appalachian includes addressing public health issues.

“And you have to do that by bringing them to the people where they need them the most, and this is very important,” he said.

With more than 900 employees, MCCC serves more than 20,000 people in eastern Kentucky annually.

“Think about if that wasn’t available, what that would mean to people,” Ball said.

MCCC has expanded and opened several new facilities in the past few years, including substance-abuse treatment facilities via a partnership with Prestonsburg at StoneCrest. The organization is nearing completion of a low-income housing unit that it started building in Prestonsburg this year, Bihnoi said.

He said MCCC is “just trying to meet the unmet needs of our community.”

Floyd County Judge Executive Ben Hale commended MCCC for its growth and said the county will continue to support the organization.

Numerous community members from Wheelwright and surrounding communities attended the event, as did Floyd County Clerk Waugh, Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt, Floyd County Schools interim superintendent Steve Trimble, Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton and others.

For more information about the clinic call, 606-452-2900, or visit,