Book chronicles Hall’s 40-year battle for health, against poverty

By Molly Burchett
Kentucky Health News

Eula Hall has been called an angel, dynamite, a force to be reckoned with, and a living legend. She has dedicated her life to combating poverty in Appalachia and providing health care to those in need. Some say that she has done more for health care in Eastern Kentucky than any other single person.

Even at age 86, Hall continues to fight against poverty, providing health care to those who need it. Hall’s story will be told in a new biography, Mud Creek Medicine: The Life of Eula Hall and the Fight for Appalachia, written by Pikeville native Kiran Bhatraju.

Hall grew up in Pike County and moved to the Mud Creek community in adjoining Floyd County at the age of 16. She witnessed the devastating impact of poverty, including lack of health care, and became a staple in the Mud Creek community, someone to whom people would turn when they were sick or hungry.

In 1973, at age 46, Hall opened the doors to The Mud Creek Clinic in Grethel, Ky., a rural community in Floyd County, with a $1,400 donation and the help of two local doctors. The clinic rented space at first, but Hall quickly moved her family out of a nice home in Mud Creek so the home could be converted into a clinic to provide health care regardless of patients’ ability to pay.

For 40 years, Hall’s clinic has weathered hard times, reports Jonathan Meador of WKMS in Murray. But, with resiliency and the help of the community, the clinic now operates in five locations and continues its mission: To provide Appalachia’s poorest residents with health care and dental services they can afford.

Hall says things have improved in Appalachia in the last 40 years, but she is still concerned that growing income inequality in America is leaving too many of her patients behind, reports Meador. Appalachians still face numerous economic and health disparities that are deeply rooted in poverty.

“We still have people who don’t have enough to meet their needs,” Hall told Meador. “These are good people; these are honest people, hard workin’ people, when they were able. But you know, they’re disadvantaged now, and they just don’t have the means to meet their needs and stuff, and somebody has to be concerned; somebody has to look out for ’em.”

Bhatraju says that proceeds of his book will go toward funding the clinic. Click here to purchase a copy of the book.

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