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ETSU to host NCA interactive health panel on ‘Appalachian Health’ Wednesday

In a climate of uncertainty when it comes to health in the Appalachian region, two entities are coming together to spark interest and engage in discussions to see what problems and ideas can be brought to the forefront to address the issues.
East Tennessee State University’s Department of Communication and Performance is partnering with the National Communication Association — based in Washington, D.C. — to bring a panel of health experts to host a special seminar, “Health, Wellness & Illness in Appalachia,” on Wednesday, April 12.
The event will be held at the East Tennessee Room inside the D.P. Cup Center on ETSU’s campus. Wednesday’s event is open to the public but RSVP’ing is asked due to space limitations of the venue. Reception is set for 4:30 p.m. and the event will last from 5 to 7 p.m. Attendees are invited to take part in a discussion that will delve into a bevy of topics, including health insurance coverage, terminal illness care, other conditions and how communication can help address health disparities faced by individuals in the region.
Six panelists will engage the audience while Dr. LaKesha Anderson, assistant director for Academic and Professional Affairs for the NCA, will serve as the moderator.
Panelists taking part in the discussion include:
• Katie Baker, DrPh, MPH – Assistant Professor, Department of Community and Behavioral Health, College of Public Health, ETSU
• Kelly A. Dorgan, Ph.D. – Professor, Department of Communication and Performance, ETSU
• Rebecca Adkins Fletcher, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Department of Appalachian Students, ETSU; Assistant Director, Center for Appalachian Studies and Services, ETSU
• Sadie Hutson, Ph.D., RN – Associate Professor, College of Nursing, University of Tennessee
• Amber Kinser, Ph.D. – Professor and Chair, Department of Communications and Performance, ETSU
• Tony Lawson – Director, PACE Program, Mountain Empire Older Citizens, Inc.
While based in Washington, Dr. Anderson added she was excited to come back to the region.
“This is the first event at ETSU by NCA,” Dr. Anderson, a Southwest Virginia native, said. “We host the public programs and encourage members of the community to come out and talk about the real needs of the Appalachian region. ETSU has been great to work with and have a great tradition with Appalachian studies and health so we thought this would be a great venue.”
Wednesday’s panel isn’t your run-of-the-mill type of session, according to Dr. Dorgan.
“This isn’t just a bunch of academics speaking to a crowd,” she said. “Interaction is encouraged. We want to have a vibrant discussion with everyone. There’s a panel of health experts that delve into each of the issues going on in health and want to have provocative and thought-provoking discussions about Appalachian health and listen to what the community has to say.”
Communication is key when discussing health care. During an uncertainty for the future of health insurance, Dr. Dorgan added that the discussion is a great way to address the future and history of Appalachian health.
“There’s uncertainty for the future, but there’s also the unique aspect of the history of Appalachian health,” Dr. Dorgan said. “So many families have been affected by hypertension, diabetes, cancer and it goes unknown in such a small region.”
Having an open communication line is key when addressing health issues, Dr. Anderson added.
To reserve a spot for the event, contact Jacqueline Reilly at jreilly@natcom.org or call (202) 534-1117.