Carolina Public Press and HuffPost will present a free and public forum focused on women’s health and rural hospitals during a Newsmakers event to be 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.
Panelists will discuss 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 will be Jacqueline Sitton, Family Nurse Practitioner with Park Ridge Health Pediatrics, and 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.
Journalists with Carolina Public Press and HuffPost will moderate the Newsmakers forum, which includes networking, a panel discussion and audience Q&A. Local event sponsors include 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.
Seats are limited and RSVPs are required. A live-stream of the forum will be available for those unable to attend in person; RSVP below for details on how to connect and participate remotely.
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. The reports will be published in September and will be available at carolinapublicpress.org and huffpost.com.
On Monday, Sept. 25, HuffPost will also host a public activation from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. at 12 Bones Smokehouse and the Wedge at Foundation, in Asheville, where people can share their personal stories. HuffPost will have a mobile studio available as part of a pop-up, and hopes to engage with people to collect and share stories. [Location map here.] The event is part of HuffPost’s 25-city “Listen To America” bus tour that will spotlight personal stories and perspectives from across the US to better understand what unites — rather than divides — the country. This this will be the only stop HuffPost makes in North Carolina.