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MSHA, Wellmont host roundtable disccusions

Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System hosted their fourth joint community roundtable health discussion on Thursday, Sept. 24, with Unicoi County leaders at the National Guard Armory in Erwin.
The discussions are part of a joint effort, following up the announced merger between both health organizations, to map out a 10-year plan to help the needs of those in the surrounding area, according Teresa Hicks, Corporate Director of Communications with MSHA.
“Mountain States and Wellmont are holding these meetings throughout the region to get community input on the major health challenges of the region in preparation for crafting a 10-year plan of how the potential merged organization could help address those needs,” she told The Erwin Record on Thursday.
Erwin’s roundtable was the fourth out of 10 that the groups have held across the region, from Northeast Tennessee to Southwest Virginia, to receive feedback from the community. The growth is about being better together, according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Vice President of the MSHA – Southeast Market Dwayne Taylor.
“There’s really nothing at the federal or state level in the past seven or eight years that has been favorable to health care,” Taylor said during a presentation to community members. “It is more and more challenging with more and more dollars being taken away from hospitals and doctors. So we have to be stronger and be larger to be able to make sure we’re sustainable for the future.”
Following an introductory presentation, Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of East Tennessee State University College of Public Health, covered various factors that cause poor health within the region.
Some items Wykoff discussed that have a correlation to health issues locally are tobacco use, education, the creation of jobs and the environment.
At the end Wykoff’s talk with participants, community leaders met with representatives from the roundtable discussions to talk of different issues they see as top priority in the county.
Healthy Children and Families, Research and Academics, Population Health and Healthy Communities and The Mental Health and Addiction are groups that are assisting with each roundtable discussion.
Individuals who were unable to make it to Thursday’s meeting will have an opportunity to view the report from the armory. Visit becomingbettertogether.org website to recap the event or to RSVP for an upcoming discussion.