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NCA Presents “Health, Wellness, and Illness in Appalachia” Public Program at ETSU

May 9, 2017

On April 12, NCA presented a public program titled “Health, Wellness, and Illness in Appalachia,” hosted by East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN, which is centrally located in the Appalachian region. Hosted by the Department of Communication and Performance, the panel discussion attracted a diverse crowd of local residents, faculty, and students from Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. 

NCA Assistant Director for Academic and Professional Affairs, LaKesha Anderson, moderated the panel, which included:

  • Katie Baker, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at East Tennessee State University
  • Kelly A. Dorgan, a Professor in the Department of Communication and Performance at East Tennessee State University
  • Rebecca Adkins Fletcher, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Appalachian Studies and Assistant Director for Appalachian Studies and Services at East Tennessee State University
  • Sadie P. Hutson, an Associate Professor and Nurse Practitioner at the University of Tennessee
  • Amber Kinser, Professor and Chair in the Department of Communication and Performance at East Tennessee State University
  • Tony Lawson, Director of the PACE Program at Mountain Empire Older Citizens, Inc. in Southwest Virginia

Residents of the Appalachian region face a disproportionately high incidence of poor health and unique barriers to health, including low numbers of health providers, lack of public transportation, high rates of poverty, low rates of education and health literacy, and a declining economy. As the panelists pointed out, the Appalachian region is also a collectivist one, where family caregiving and community are the norm, and fear and mistrust of the health care system are pervasive. Panelists discussed a wide array of topics, including the growing substance abuse problem in Appalachia and perceptions about new technology, such as drone use and telemedicine, in providing health care for residents who are limited by transportation, age, or a lack of specialty care.

The event was featured in local media outlets, including WCYB (NBC affiliate), the Elizabethton Star, and the Mountain Press.