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Rural Health Journalism Workshop 2018: Program

Click the titles of sessions having red arrows to read their descriptions.

Friday, June 8

7 a.m.

Registration/check-in desk opens


7:30-8:15 a.m.

Breakfast available


8:40-8:50 a.m.



8:50-9:50 a.m.

What reporters should know about rural residents and rural health

What do you need to know about rural residents and their health environment? Each American rural community has its own identity and makeup. They can rely on farms, or factories, be retirement areas or "exurbs" for commuters, each with its own distinctive personality. There is, however, some common ground: Rural Americans face special challenges in getting health care, and in many areas those challenges keep them from being as healthy as their urban and suburban counterparts. You’ll hear from a set of experts about resources and ideas on how to report on rural populations and places.
  • Jeffery Heck, M.D., president and chief executive officer, Mountain Area Health Education Center

  • Alan Morgan, chief executive officer, National Rural Health Association

  • Moderator: Rose Hoban, founding editor, North Carolina Health News


10-11 a.m.

Will your local hospital survive?

Many rural hospitals around the United States are facing hard times – a growing number have closed, leaving residents miles away from the care needed by some of the sickest and poorest. What factors create these challenges? Is this a pattern destined to continue, or can rural hospitals find ways to buck that trend? Find ideas close to your own community.
  • George Pink, Ph.D., deputy director, North Carolina Rural Health Research Program; Humana distinguished professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Dana Weston, president, UNC Rockingham Health Care

  • Moderator: Jason deBruyn, reporter, North Carolina Public Radio-WUNC


11:10 a.m.-
12:10 p.m.

Addressing rural health workforce hurdles

With rural America aging, health care needs are growing. But the health care workforce is lagging – far behind large metropolitan areas. The shortage is an ongoing story in rural America. Explore with this panel the challenges of recruiting and retaining health care professionals. What are the real fixes? The speakers will explore some answers.
  • Robert Bashford, M.D., associate dean, Office of Rural Initiatives, University of North Carolina School of Medicine

  • Mark Holmes, Ph.D., director, North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center; director, Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research

  • Moderator: Melissa Patrick, reporter, Kentucky Health News


12:15-1:45 p.m.

Luncheon: Behavioral health issues needing coverage in rural communities

What are the behavioral health challenges facing rural America? Consider these three: accessibility, availability and acceptability. Accessibility challenges include payment and insurance coverage, locations and intake processes, and transportation. Rural areas also often lack availability of trained behavioral health professionals to provide services. Acceptability issues might manifest when rural and frontier residents perpetuate the stigma of mental illness or when services aren’t delivered in a culturally sensitive way. Hear some facts behind those challenges and story ideas you can apply in your own community.
  • Hannah Koch, Psy.D., research and technical assistance associate, Mental Health Program, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education


2-3 p.m.

Rural opioid crisis: Access to treatment and harm reduction

The opioid epidemic is rampant across the United States, and rural areas have been hit particularly hard. As the overdose death rates increase, rural counties struggle to combat the problem with even fewer health resources than their urban counterparts. We'll talk about access to treatment and harm reduction efforts. Come away from this panel with resources and story ideas.
  • Regina LaBelle, J.D., visiting fellow, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy

  • Donald McDonald, executive director, Addiction Professionals of North Carolina

  • Moderator: Taylor Knopf, rural and mental health reporter, North Carolina Health News


3-3:30 p.m.

Afternoon break


3:30-4:30 p.m.

Can telemedicine transform health care in rural communities?

The technology that allows health professionals to communicate with and examine patients hundreds of miles away are demonstrating that telemedicine can save lives and curtail disability. But while outcomes are improving, are regulations covering reimbursement and delivery staying current with the technology? As telemedicine becomes even more widespread, find new story angles for your audience.
  • Bradley Kolls, M.D., Ph.D., M.M.Ci, neurologist, Duke Health

  • Latoya Thomas, policy director, American Telemedicine Association

  • Moderator: Kara Lofton, Appalachia health news coordinator, West Virginia Public Broadcasting