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National Maternal Health Day: Maternal Health in Rural Areas

Maternal health is a critical aspect of overall well-being, and its significance is particularly pronounced in rural communities. In these areas, access to quality healthcare resources is often limited, posing unique challenges for pregnant women and new mothers. The lack of easily accessible healthcare facilities, skilled professionals, and educational programs can lead to delayed or inadequate prenatal care, increasing the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Addressing maternal health in rural communities is essential for ensuring the health and survival of both mothers and their newborns.

One of the primary reasons maternal health is crucial in rural areas is the vulnerability of pregnant women to complications. Limited access to prenatal care can result in undetected health issues, contributing to a higher incidence of maternal mortality and morbidity. Moreover, the physical distance to healthcare facilities may hinder timely emergency interventions, making it imperative to prioritize maternal health initiatives that bring services closer to rural communities. By improving access to prenatal care and skilled birth attendants, the likelihood of preventing and managing complications increases, positively impacting maternal and infant outcomes.

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Mental Health, Let's Talk About It

Navigating the winter months with mental health disorders can be particularly challenging due to factors such as reduced sunlight, colder temperatures, and the holiday season. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression associated with changes in seasons, often intensifies during winter. To mitigate its effects, individuals can explore light therapy, spending time outdoors during daylight hours, and incorporating light-enhancing activities into their daily routines. Additionally, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is crucial for stabilizing mood and energy levels, as disruptions to sleep patterns can exacerbate symptoms of various mental health disorders.

The winter season can contribute to social isolation, which is especially detrimental to individuals with mental health disorders. Efforts to stay connected with loved ones and engage in social activities, even if they are virtual, can provide a crucial support system. Community involvement and participation in group activities can foster a sense of belonging, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation that often intensify during the winter months.

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Wilma Jean Pippenger Receives Bill Moats Meritorious Service Award

The below is from the Cleveland Daily Banner, December 30, 2023

What is a Maternity Care Desert?

Maternity care deserts pose a significant challenge to rural Tennesseans, where access to comprehensive maternal healthcare services is often limited. In these areas, the shortage of obstetricians, gynecologists, and maternity care facilities creates what are essentially maternity care deserts. Pregnant individuals in rural Tennessee face increased difficulties in finding accessible and timely prenatal care, essential for monitoring the health of both mother and baby throughout pregnancy. The absence of nearby obstetric care providers in these deserts contributes to delayed or inadequate medical attention, leading to potential complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

The impact of maternity care deserts on rural Tennesseans is evident in the higher rates of maternal and infant mortality, as well as adverse birth outcomes. Limited access to proper maternal healthcare services exacerbates existing health disparities, disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations in these regions. Women in rural areas may encounter difficulties in securing transportation to distant healthcare facilities, further hindering their ability to access timely and necessary prenatal care. As a result, the health outcomes for both mothers and infants in rural Tennessee can suffer, underscoring the urgent need for targeted interventions to address these disparities.

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National Flu Vaccine Awareness Month: Vaccine Hesitancy in Rural Areas

Vaccine hesitancy in rural areas often stems from a combination of factors, including distrust in healthcare systems, concerns about vaccine safety, and the influence of tight-knit community networks. National Flu Vaccine Awareness Week provides an opportunity to engage local leaders, community influencers, and healthcare providers in initiating conversations about the importance of vaccination. By fostering open and transparent communication, public health campaigns can work towards dispelling myths and addressing specific concerns that contribute to hesitancy, ultimately building trust and encouraging higher vaccine uptake.

In addition to communication strategies, improving access to flu vaccines in rural areas is crucial. National Flu Vaccine Awareness Week can serve as a catalyst for organizing mobile vaccination clinics, partnering with local pharmacies, and collaborating with community organizations to ensure that vaccines are readily available. By making vaccination convenient and addressing logistical barriers, public health efforts can make significant strides in overcoming hesitancy and increasing flu vaccine coverage in rural communities.

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Recognition of Rural Health Leaders at RHA's 29th Annual Conference

Rural Health of Association of Tennessee celebrated National Rural Health Day on November 16th in Knoxville, Tennessee at our 29th annual conference, "Shining a Light on Rural Health: Advocating for a Brighter Future." The conference was a dynamic and engaging three days of learning from experts in rural health fields across the state, bringing together professionals within the healthcare field. It provided a platform for the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and experiences, fostering growth and collaboration. Attendees were able to benefit from a diverse range of presentations and panel discussions delivered by leaders in Tennessee. Networking opportunities allowed attendees to establish valuable connections, share insights, and explore potential collaborations. 

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National Diabetes Month: Diabetes in Rural Communities

Diabetes presents a growing health challenge in rural areas, shedding light on the importance of increased awareness and targeted interventions. In many rural communities, limited access to healthcare facilities, lower socioeconomic status, and a lack of public awareness compound the difficulties of managing diabetes. Routine health check-ups are often scarce, making early detection and monitoring of diabetes less likely. Risk factors such as poor dietary choices and limited opportunities for physical activity in rural areas can contribute to the higher incidence of diabetes. It is crucial to raise awareness about diabetes in these regions to help individuals understand the disease, its risk factors, and the resources available for prevention and management.

Diabetes awareness in rural areas can have a significant impact on the lives of those affected by the condition. By providing education about diabetes symptoms and risk factors, rural residents can become more proactive in seeking regular check-ups and adopting healthier lifestyles. Increased awareness also encourages healthcare providers to offer diabetes screening and management services in underserved regions, ensuring that rural populations have access to the care they need. Empowering communities with knowledge about diabetes creates a supportive environment for those living with the disease, reducing stigma and fostering understanding among family and friends.

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Big South Fork Medical opens Myrtle Recover Center in Oneida, Tennessee

RHA Staff Deliver Prescription-drug Take-back boxes 

In August, Big South Fork Medical Center, announced the opening of Myrtle Recovery Centers, its alcohol and drug treatment facility at the Oneida .

October 31st, Jessica Rackley, RHA's Rural Community Opioid Response Program (TN-RCORP) Director, and Jacy Warrell, RHA's CEO traveled to Oneida to deliver two prescription drug take-back boxes to be placed at the hospital.

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2023 Membership Voting

The 2023 Membership Voting is open 

Members may login to RHA's Website for details, including:

  • 2024 Board Officers
  • 2024 Board Members (Each candidate's application is available to view on the Member Landing page)
  • Bylaw Changes (summary of proposed changes is on the Member Landing page)
  • 2024 Proposed Advocacy Priorities 

Voting will remain open through November 16th (Rural Health Day) and results will be shared at our Annual Member Meeting on Friday November 17th (end of Annual Conference).

The voting link will also be available in RHA's Conference App.

National Drug Take Back Day

October 28th is recognized as National Drug Take Back Day.

National Drug Take Back Day is a public health initiative provides an opportunity for individuals to dispose of their unused or expired prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs safely. This annual event, organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and local law enforcement agencies, aims to combat the growing issue of prescription drug abuse and its associated health risks. By participating in National Drug Take Back Day, people can ensure that these medications do not end up in the wrong hands, in turn reducing the potential for misuse, addiction, and overdose.

One of the main benefits of National Drug Take Back Day is the environmentally responsible disposal of pharmaceuticals. Flushing medications down the toilet or throwing them in the trash can lead to contamination of water sources and soil. By providing designated collection sites where individuals can drop off their medications, the initiative prevents these substances from polluting the environment. This environmentally friendly approach not only safeguards ecosystems but also protects human health by reducing exposure to harmful chemicals.

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Webinar with Vizient Mark Webb Now Available

If you missed the October 20th webinar with Mark Webb, Principal, you can access the presentation through our Resource Center under RHC Network on our website here

Mark Webb, Principal, with the Facilities and Construction team at Vizient works to educate members about the solutions and value opportunities available to members in the capital and construction areas. As a former member in the C-Suite, he has extensive experience in hospital administration and operations, along with 25+ years in civic, aviation and hospital construction.

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Child Health Month

This October we would like to send a thank you to all our members fighting for a healthier Tennesse for our youth. Child Health Month in Tennessee is a significant annual observance dedicated to raising awareness and advocating for the well-being of children in the state. Throughout the month of October, we ask everyone to join is in promoting a healthier lifestyle and preventive healthcare measures, such as vaccinations, regular check-ups, proper nutrition, and sharing mental health resources to ensure that children in Tennessee are able to have a long healthy life.

During Child Health Month we urge all organizations, healthcare professionals, and community leaders to help shed light on the importance of early intervention and access to quality healthcare for children. Tennessee recognizes that child health is essential not only for the individual well-being of children but also for the future prosperity of the state. This observance serves as a reminder that investing in the health and development of the youngest Tennesseans is crucial for building a brighter and more promising future for the entire community.

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Behavorial Health Safety Net Program

The Behavioral Health Safety Net System in Tennessee, known as BHSN of TN, is a crucial resource for adults aged 18 and older who lack insurance coverage but meet the necessary eligibility criteria. This program offers essential community-based behavioral health services, with the exception of inpatient care, which is not covered. BHSN of TN is effectively administered through contracts with Community Mental Health Agencies statewide.

For individuals seeking to access this safety net assistance, the process involves locating a provider in their area and scheduling an intake appointment. During the appointment, applicants should express their intention to apply for the safety net program. If deemed eligible based on the eligibility requirements outlined below, the agency will provide support in completing the enrollment form. Approved participants must receive Behavioral Health Safety Net services exclusively at the Community Mental Health Agency where they initiated the application process.

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A Conversation with Jacy Warrell

The conversation with Jacy Warrell, the CEO of the Rural Health Association of Tennessee, provides valuable insights into the challenges and initiatives related to rural healthcare in Tennessee. It's clear that addressing the gaps in rural health is a top priority for her organization. Warrell emphasizes the importance of including rural communities in healthcare discussions and planning for the future of Tennessee. Rural areas make up a significant portion of the state and are home to a substantial underserved population. Inclusivity in these discussions ensures that the unique healthcare needs of rural Tennesseans are considered and addressed. She also sheds light on what Rural Health Association of Tennessee is doing to bridge those gaps.

The Rural Health Association of Tennessee has been actively involved in workforce development by awarding over a thousand certificates to high school and community college students. These certificates cover various healthcare careers, including Nursing Assistant, Phlebotomy, EKG, Patient Care Tech, and Community Health Workers. This program plays a crucial role in preparing individuals for healthcare careers, especially in rural areas where access to education and training can be limited.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is about empowering individuals, reducing the impact of breast cancer, and working towards a world where the disease no longer poses a significant threat to women's health. Awareness empowers individuals with knowledge about the disease, its risk factors, and the importance of early detection. By understanding breast cancer and its potential impact, people can make informed decisions about their health and take preventive measures.

We encourage women to schedule regular screenings, such as mammograms, and perform self-examinations, allowing early detection. When women are proactive in their health, the chances of successful treatment, if necessary, are highest. Early detection can significantly improve survival rates and reduce the physical and emotional burden on patients and their families.

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Advancing Facilities and Construction Spend Management Webinar

Join RHA and Vizient for a partner webinar on "Advancing Facilities and Construction Spend Management" on October 20th at 11am CDT. 

Learn more about how he continued increase in the cost of building materials has added to the financial stress in an already burdened healthcare industry. As health systems continue to expand to meet patient needs, the need to rethink their capital strategies to ensure the delivery of projects that meet patient needs in the most operationally efficient and cost effective manner has never been more relevant. As leaders look to the future, there is a clear need to develop more integrated and comprehensive strategic solutions.

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RHA Launches "Be There" Campaign

Be There 

Reducing Stigma and Encouraging Recovery

The Tennessee Rural Community Opioid Response Program (TN-RCORP) Consortium, a program of Rural Health Association of Tennessee (RHA), is announcing their new "Be There" initiative.

With the goal of reducing stigma and encouraging support, the campaign aims to bring awareness to the benefits of being there for those battling behavioral health issues including substance use disorder (SUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD).

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Certified Labor Doula Training Scholarships

The Role of a Certified Labor Doula

Certified doulas provide non-biased emotional, physical, and informational support during pregnancy, labor and the birth process, and the immediate postpartum period. They also encourage informed decision making, model, teach, and encourage effective communication, and encourage cooperative, respectful, and positive atmosphere with the family and birth team.

 

Scholarship Information

Paid Training - RHA will be providing scholarships for the following certifications, a $1,250 value:

• Certified Labor Doula (CLD) | CAPPA
• Infant and Child First Aid Certification
• Mental Health First Aid Certification
• Students will be paid for their time in training at $25/hour
TOTAL VALUE PER TRAINING: $5,000 



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USDA Invests to Boost School Nutrition

Action for Healthy Kids has allocated nearly $30 million in subgrants to 264 school districts across 44 states and the District of Columbia, as part of a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative. This initiative aims to enhance student nutrition and meal quality in high-need schools. This program marks the largest targeted investment by the USDA for school meal programs in small and rural communities, promoting better nutrition for all students.

The funds, provided by the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, will benefit small and rural school districts, empowering them to modernize their operations and provide healthier meals. Each eligible school district can receive up to $150,000, which can be used for activities like staff training, kitchen upgrades, redesigning food service spaces, and bringing in educated nutrition/dietician staff.

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September is National Recovery Month

National Recovery Month aims to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.

To start off National Recovery Month, we're sharing a few resources and will add to these as the month progresses. 

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