Rural Health Journalism Workshop 2022

7 a.m.  |  Registration opens


7:15-8:15 a.m.  |  Breakfast available


8:30-8:40 a.m.  |  Welcome

  • Katherine Reed, director of education and content, AHCJ


8:40-9:45 a.m.  |  Hiding in plain sight: Finding data and research about rural health.
Facts about rural health care can be both abundant and surprisingly hard to find, depending on the topic and locality. This panel of rural health researchers and working journalists will provide practical advice on where to look for solid research and data. Equally important, they will help journalists evaluate the soundness of data, recognize the limits of research, and address methodological issues such as confusing correlation with causation.

  • Moderator: Tim Marema, editor, The Daily Yonder/The Center for Rural Strategies
  • Michael Meit, director of research and programs, Center for Rural Health Research; research associate professor, health services management and policy, Eastern Tennessee State University
  • Grace Bagwell Adams, associate professor, health policy and management, College of Public Health, University of Georgia
  • Brett Kelman, correspondent, Kaiser Health News


9:45-10 a.m.  |  Break


10-11 a.m.  |  Few and far between: How sparse resources shaped the Covid-19 curve in rural communities
Before the pandemic, rural and underserved communities were struggling with dwindling numbers of healthcare facilities and patchy availability of high-quality health information. Meager public health resources created obstacles to rural people's health, regardless of race, ethnicity, or country of origin. Two and a half years into the pandemic, the problems are clearer, including vaccine hesitancy/skepticism/refusal, delayed health screenings and zero access to specific kinds of care. This panel will look at how providers are addressing these problems and picking up the pieces of rural health care.

  • Moderator: Keren Landman, journalist, epidemiologist and physician, VOX
  • Diana Dedmon, assistant professor, director of clinical affairs, University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing
  • Dr. Andrew Smith, primary care physician, Erlanger Primary Care-Bledsoe
  • Precious Andrews, director of special projects, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia
  • Amanda Lemus, medical student and volunteer, Migrant Equity Southeast


11:10 a.m.-12:10 p.m.  |  The truth about telemedicine: promise and limitations
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve heard and covered the promises of telemedicine. While use spiked to unprecedented levels, ongoing access largely depends on where you live — and your internet connection, as audio-only reimbursement is still patchwork. Rural areas disproportionately lack internet access, particularly impacting Black rural residents — 1 in 3 of whom lack access. Learn about resources and story ideas from experts who work to make telemedicine more accessible to rural residents, making headway on the long-promised equity aspect of telemedicine.

  • Moderator: Erica Hensley, reporter, The Fuller Project
  • Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, J.D., vice president, National Partnership for Women and Families
  • Tearsanee Davis, director of clinical programs and strategy, University of Mississippi Medical Center's Center for Telehealth
  • Sarah Rhoads, professor and chair, University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Department of Community and Population Health


12:10-1:15 p.m.  |  Luncheon speaker: Stephanie Boynton, VP/CEO of the system’s critical access hospitals, Erlanger Bledsoe in Pikeville, Tenn., which also includes Sequatchie Valley Emergency Department in Dunlap, Tenn., and Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital in Murphy, N.C. “Keeping the doors open: A story of rural hospital survival.” Moderator, Sarah Jane Tribble, Kaiser Health News. 


1:15-1:30 p.m.  |  Break


1:30-2:30 p.m.  |  Bringing health care to the people: mobile screening and other routes to prevention
With more than a third of Americans living in medically underserved areas of the country, health care providers have to be creative and nimble about going to where the need is, and that takes several forms: mobile screening, pop-up clinics and other approaches. Are these sustainable solutions or just stop-gaps? Are there new models for delivering health care in rural America that hold promise?


2:30-3:30 p.m.  |  Good money after bad: Evaluating the use of opioid settlement dollars
As millions of dollars flow into states for use in treatment of people with opiate dependence, reporters should be ready to ask the right questions about how the money will be used and whether the programs that get it show evidence of success, like medication-assisted treatment. Panelists will discuss treatment, barriers to delivery and harm reduction.

  • Moderator: Ellen Eldridge, senior health care reporter, Georgia Public Broadcasting
  • Dr. Stephen Loyd, chief medical officer, Cedar Recovery
  • Sonia Canzater, associate director, Hepatitis Policy Project, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, adjunct professor, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Jennifer Tourville, executive director, SMART (Substance Misuse and Addiction Resource for Tennessee initiative)


3:30-3:45 p.m.  |  Break


3:45-4:45 p.m.  |  Building the rural health care pipeline
There just aren’t enough trained people to provide health care in rural and underserved communities. Medical and nursing schools are trying to build a workforce for these expanding areas of the country with little to no access to health care. This panel will highlight what has been tried and learned and what is on the horizon.

  • Moderator: Katti Gray, independent journalist, AHCJ
  • Dr. Leslie Griffin, program director, family medicine residency, University of Tennessee College of Medicine  Chattanooga
  • Ashoke "Bappa" Mukherji, chief executive officer, Java Medical Group
  • Dr. Lisa D. Beasley, assistant professor, University of Tennessee Health Science Center; president, Tennessee Nurses Association