December 27th , 2013 10:00 am Leave a comment

Elizabethton’s Edwards taking health group’s reins

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Joellen Edwards says it was her role in establishing a rural health clinic in Johnson County that spurred her involvement 1A-JoellenEdwardsin the Rural Health Association of Tennessee.

And now, the Elizabethton resident and founding board member is set to become president of the association.

“Right now, we are the second-largest rural health organization in the country at the state level,” Edwards said about RHAT, which has more than 800 members.

And she said the organization is at a very important juncture: “We are going to be doing some expansion this year.”

That expansion means RHAT will hire an executive director.

That, Edwards said, is to ensure that state legislation regarding health care has rural people’s health in mind.

“They will be able to be in Nashville and work with our lobbyist and assistant,” Edwards said.

“Tennessee is a rural state,” she said. “We can’t just concentrate on the population centers. We have to think about the Mountain Citys and the smaller places out in the state.”

Once the hire is made, Edwards said she expects the organization to take a look at its communication strategy.

“We want to make sure we are reaching all of our constituents,” Edwards said. “We can’t speak with legislators unless we know what our rural constituents are thinking.”

Currently, Edwards said that high on her organization’s list of concerns is Tennessee’s lack of additional funding for Medicaid expansion.

To see the rest of this story, log on to the Elizabethton Star’s e-edition or pick up a copy of our award-winning print edition, available through subscriptions, in boxes and at vendors throughout Carter and Johnson counties. The e-edition is free to subscribers. Others may pay a daily, weekly or monthly fee to access the e-edition.

 

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