Monday, September 09, 2019

New research center in East Tennessee aims to figure out how to break generational cycle of poor rural health

"A new rural health research center with a multi-million-dollar annual budget will focus on breaking the cycle of inter-generational behavior that contributes to poor health," Liz Carey reports for The Daily Yonder. "The center will also work to become a source for policymakers – providing the data from which those in government and other policy making organizations can make decisions to help improve the health of those in rural and nonurban communities."

East Tennessee State University in Johnson City announced the creation of the new Center for Rural Health Research on July 16. Randy Wkyoff, dean of ETSU's College of Public Health, said those inter-generational cycles of "poor health, lack of education and persistent poverty" are among the greatest health challenges in the region, and that interrupting them is paramount, Carey reports.

"One of the first things Wykoff said he’ll focus on is perinatal care – the period just before and after childbirth. Emphasizing this period will empower women to provide the best care they can to protect their babies from harm," Carey reports. "He also hopes to look at how to get healthcare to those in rural areas." Wykoff said he hopes the center's ideas will help other states besides Tennessee.

The center is getting ample funding. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee promised the center a first-year $1.5 million grant and $750,000 annually for ongoing operations, and regional health care system Ballad Health has promised $15 million over the next 10 years, the largest gift in the university's history.

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