The Inspiring Journey of Heather Robinson, PA-C: A Trailblazer in Healthcare and Community Advocacy

Breaking Barriers Shattering Ceilings, and Healing Lives: The Inspiring Journey of Heather Robinson, PA-C

Picture it: Mingo County (or Sophia:  Sicily)

1977 – Southern West Virginia, deep in the hills in the heart of Mingo County, a bi-racial girl named Heather Kaye Marcum was born and raised lovingly raised with resilience and determination by a white parents in a very white community.  Daughter of the late Denzil and Kaye Marcum, Heather was raised in Naugatuck, WV, and began her education at Nolan Grade School as the only black student and remained so throughout her secondary school career including Lenore Jr. High and finally graduating from Tug Valley High School in 1995;  the only other person who had skin color as Heather, was Polynesian sister (me!).  I remember specifically when I was in kindergarten and she was Head Start, we were on our way “to town” while issuing through Naugatuck, we saw Willie Evans and his little brother chummin’ it up on the Swap Store steps. I said to Heather:  See those boys?  They call us nigger (on Roger Hatfield’s school bus).”  I was five years old and she was four. 

Heather faced unique challenges but never allowed them to define her.  Instead, she used her experiences to forge a path of success that would break glass ceilings and leave a lasting impact on the medical field and her community.  Not to mention her mother, Kaye,  passed on to Heaven when Heather was only 15 years old.  All the accomplishments after that have been done so without her momma in person,  yet still with her as she instilled lifelong lessons in Heather.  Talk about resilience!  Heather does have “other mother” figures who stepped in including but not limited to her Aunts Lou, Dora, Bernie, Jan and Mrs. May.  At the end of the day, none of them would ever replace her mother, as this facet makes her shine so bright you need sunglasses!!

Heather’s higher education began at Marshall University, where she pursued her bachelor’s degree and first master’s degree in biology. During her time at the university, she excelled academically and became a Resident Advisor in the infamous “Twin Towers” dorms. This experience taught her valuable leadership and interpersonal skills, which she would later apply in her medical career.

While studying at Marshall, the “Daughter of Marshall” set her sights on becoming a Physician Assistant (PA), a field that aligned with her passion for healthcare and her desire to make a difference in people’s lives.  Heather used to help her mother study with note cards while she (mother, Kaye) was in nursing school.  Alderson Broaddus recognized her potential and welcomed her into their PA program, where she thrived as a student. Upon graduation in 2005 from Alderson Broaddus, she officially became Heather Marcum, PA-C, with a newfound sense of purpose and commitment to her patients’ well-being.  

Since the beginning of her medical career, Heather has explored various concentrations in the medical field, including family clinics, addiction clinics, urgent cares, and private practice. And let’s talk about COVID.  This professional was in the MIX. She was outside in drive thru testing, she was inside with testing.  Coming home to strip her clothes at the door.  She faces this unprecedented pandemic LIKE A CHAMP.  Heather’s journey has led her to where she is now:  PA-C of the newly opened Brighter Futures Clinic operated by Boone Memorial Health (BMH) in Madison, WV, BMH saw the increase of Hep-C cases and wanted to make an impact and serve the needs of the community to combat a disease that affects millions worldwide.. The Brighter Futures clinic is also open to the general public for screening and treatment. Click HERE for more information

Beyond her professional achievements, Heather’s impact extended to the realm of policy and representation. In ONE groundbreaking move, she became the first black woman, the first black person, and the first PA-C to be appointed to the West Virginia State Board of Osteopathic Medicine (by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin) in 2013. SHATTER THOSE CEILINGS, GIRL!  Where I’m from, that’s varsity lettering in THREE sports! FIRST-TEAM ALL STATE.  Serving on the board for many years, Heather has proven herself as a formidable advocate for inclusivity, diversity, and excellence in the medical field. Her dedication to making a positive change earned her the respect of her peers, leading to her becoming the most senior member of the State Board.

Heather’s ambitions and dreams didn’t stop with the medical field. A new a blessing, her son RJ graced this earth on April 20, 2006!  Now we have a momma bear on our hands as she has been his biggest cheerleader and supporter of this current All State Chapmanville Football Tiger.  And with this, the communities and teams are blessed by her volunteerism.

She co-founded the current In-Action Group in 2009, a heartfelt initiative that has fed tens of thousands of people in need every Thanksgiving. This venture was started alongside her late ex-husband, Coach Lee Jones, a testament to her ability to uplift and inspire those around her, both personally and professionally.

Heather Robinson, PA-C, exemplifies the power of determination, resilience, and empathy. Her journey from being the only black student in her classes to becoming a pioneering force in the medical field and her community is a source of inspiration for aspiring healthcare professionals and anyone seeking to break barriers.

As she continues to make strides in her medical career, Heather’s commitment to her family, patients, her community, and her passion for healing shines brightly. Her unwavering dedication for the #underdog (cue Alicia), to helping eradicate Hepatitis C and her role in shaping healthcare policies are a testament to her enduring impact.

Heather Robinson’s story is a reminder that one person can make a significant difference in the lives of many with strength, compassion, and a steadfast spirit. As she continues to pave the way for a brighter future, Heather leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of those she touches and stands tall as a beacon of hope and progress for generations to come.

I am proud to be her sister!!

Lekili Dean

Heather Robinson’s journey from a small town in West Virginia to become a pioneering force in the medical field and her community is a source of inspiration. As the first woman, Black person, and PA-C appointed to the West Virginia State Board of Osteopathy Medicine, she has been a formidable advocate for inclusivity, diversity, and excellence in healthcare. Heather’s dedication to curing Hepatitis C and feeding those in need showcases her unwavering commitment to making a positive impact. Her story serves as a beacon of hope and progress for generations to come.

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