MAHEC CEO Dr. Jeff Heck says exercise is the best medicine.
North Carolina allows two types of immunization exemptions. Medical exemptions, which must be documented by a physician licensed in the state, are rare. Most of those granted in Buncombe County last year were based on religious beliefs.
Harm-reduction efforts and addiction treatment are two of the main strategies public health agencies are using to address the crisis. Buncombe County, Haywood County and the Mountain Area Health Education Center are deploying over $660,000 in federal funds as part of that effort.
Major grants to Western North Carolina health care institutions and nonprofits offer promise of health benefits for vulnerable populations, while the Mountain Area Health Education Center reaches out to local government leaders to propose a collaborative effort to boost community health.
“Poor dental care leads to poor health and poor dental care is also a social poverty stigma that makes it hard for people to get jobs,” says Dr. Jeff Heck, Mountain Area Health Education Center’s CEO. In line with MAHEC’s mission of increasing access to primary and preventive health care services to people in rural areas, the organization will partner with St. Luke’s Hospital and Isothermal Community College to open a new dental and primary care center in Columbus next spring.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will vote on a new pay plan during its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20. The body will also consider a set of policies that would increase oversight of county contracts and purchases.
The Project CARA program housed at MAHEC Ob/Gyn Specialists came into being to decrease barriers and the stigma that prevents pregnant women with substance-use disorders from getting quality obstetrical care as well as access to substance-use treatment. Last year, Project CARA supported 230 women with substance-use disorders and their families from 16 WNC counties.
A town hall meeting on Jan. 30 at A-B Tech sought to describe the scope of the opioid epidemic. In 2016, 17 million painkillers were prescribed in Buncombe County, which amounts to about 68 pills for every person in the county.
“Beyond Slippery Elm and Buzzard Grease: A Guide to Folk Medicine of Appalachia,” a half-day conference at MAHEC on June 24, will highlight Appalachian folk medicine traditions and practices.
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.)
President and CEO of the Mountain Area Health Education Center for a little more than a year, Dr. Jeff Heck says the academic medical center has an eye toward not only training physicians, but thinking about sustainability. And it starts with recruiting and retaining doctors.