For expectant parents, COVID-19 brings changes, uncertaint­y

For women expecting to deliver babies this spring and summer, the coronavirus pandemic has radically reshaped much of the experience of pregnancy and birth. From online prenatal visits to limitations on the number of people who can be present at the birth to uncertainty about the medical implications of the virus for moms and babies, parents and health care providers are figuring it out as they go along.

Collaborat­ive community effort tackles rising health inequities

From 2010 to 2018, “Our black infant mortality rate has increased from 11.7 to 15.1 deaths for every 1,000 babies born,” Hannah Legerton told Buncombe County commissioners on Dec. 3. That means that black babies in Buncombe County are four times as likely to die before their first birthday as white babies. And since infant mortality is a leading indicator of population health, health officials say, those numbers bode poorly for the wellbeing of African American county residents. Collaborative efforts are seeking to address the underlying issues driving inequities in health outcomes.

MAHEC students

Statewide symposium spotlights narrative health care

“Medicine Beyond Medication,” North Carolina’s first statewide symposium on narrative health care, will take place at the Mountain Area Health Education Center’s Hendersonville Road campus on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18-19. Presenters, including Dr. Rita Charon, will focus on how an understanding of story can lead to better outcomes for patients and practitioners alike.

Asheville agencies address complexiti­es of opioid addiction and treatment

Health and law enforcement officials in North Carolina are trying to deal with an epidemic of opioid addiction, and they’re moving away from criminal prosecution for substance use disorders. Instead, the newer model is to coordinate care across the divide between physical and behavioral health “silos” (separate areas of service provision).

City and county leverage resources to encourage active transporta­tion

Government agencies and departments from Buncombe County and the City of Asheville are pursuing a slew of initiatives that will reduce the barriers to active modes of transportation like walking, biking and using public transit. In addition to their environmental benefits, these coordinated efforts also promote mobility, health and well-being.

No wrong doors: Integrated health care program offers one-stop solutions

Unless you’ve just emerged from the wilderness after several decades, chances are you’ve heard some of the roiling discussions going on across the country concerning the current state of the health care system. Whether it’s presidential candidates working on a policy speech or an individual making home budgeting decisions, implementing a comprehensive health care reform […]

In the end

Kristin Scott’s mother had strong preferences about her own medical care as she neared the end of her life. She was able to make those wishes clear in an advance care directive, sometimes called a living will. When she passed away two years ago, Scott, facilitator for the WNC Health Network, says, “It was so much easier for us knowing what she wanted.”

Is there a doctor in the hills?

The sometimes challenging road to health care in rural Western North Carolina extends beyond the curves of country back roads. Whether it’s dealing with the current physician shortage that affects all but Madison in the 16-county region or wrestling with social and economic barriers, local providers and patients share their challenges and plans to address rural health-care needs. (Cover by Emily Busey. Photo by Max Cooper.)