A conversation about labor and delivery services at rural hospitals, healthcare options for WNC families

Carolina Public Press and HuffPost presented a free and public forum focused on women’s health and rural hospitals during a Newsmakers event held on Monday, Sept. 25, from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville and via a live-stream, which may be viewed below.

Panelists discussed challenges to rural women’s health, including decreasing labor and delivery services in rural hospitals; labor and delivery options currently available for families across Western North Carolina; disparities in accessing rural healthcare; and the public health and public policy implications for the reduction in services. As of Sept. 30, 10 of the 19 westernmost counties of North Carolina will either not have a hospital at all or will have a hospital without any labor and delivery departments.

Panelists were be Jacqueline Sitton, Family Nurse Practitioner with Park Ridge Health Pediatrics, Dr. Beth Buys, division director of OB/GYN for Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC); Lucretia Stargell, vice president, business and service line development for Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital; and Steve Heatherly, CEO of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital.

Carolina Public Press Managing Editor Frank Taylor and HuffPost Executive Editor for Health and Science Meredith Melnick moderated the Newsmakers forum, which included networking, a panel discussion and audience Q&A. Local event sponsors included Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Blue Ridge Public Radio, Communication Mark, Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville, Park Ridge Health and Self-Help Credit Union.

The event is part of a journalism collaboration between Carolina Public Press and HuffPost, which includes an in-depth reporting project on the same topic, specifically on the changing access to labor and delivery departments and services across the mainly rural portions of Western North Carolina. Read the story here.

On Monday, Sept. 25, HuffPost will also hosted a public activation at 12 Bones Smokehouse and the Wedge at Foundation, in Asheville, where people shared their personal stories. The event was part of HuffPost’s 25-city “Listen To America” bus tour that will spotlight personal stories and perspectives from across the U.S. to better understand what unites — rather than divides — the country. This this will be the only stop HuffPost makes in North Carolina.

For more information on the Newsmakers series, please visit carolinapublicpress.org; subscribe to Carolina Public Press or call 828-774-5290.

For more information on HuffPost’s “Listen To America” project, visit http://www.huffpost.com/feature/listen-to-america and follow along via HuffPost’s daily newsletter and Facebook page.


This 2017 Newsmakers forum by Carolina Public Press is made possible through the support of individuals, foundations, businesses and organizations. We wish to thank the following sponsors for their support in bringing this civic and civil dialogue to Western North Carolina. To learn more about our affordable sponsorship packages, which include the sponsorship of a single or a series of forums, email Community Engagement Manager Gina Woods.

To view in full screen mode, click play, then click the “Full Screen” button on the bottom right of the screen.

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