UNC Asheville Hosts WNC Legislative Caucus: Focus on Healthcare and Health Policy in WNC

Emily Quinlan, Director of Public Policy at Dogwood Health Trust welcomes attendees with panelists, Dr. Amy Russell, Mission Health Partners, Erin Braasch, WNC Health Network, and Amy Joy Lanou, NC Center for Health and Wellness
March 9, 2023

The UNC Asheville Health Policy Initiative, together with MAHEC and the Dogwood Health Trust, recently hosted a legislative caucus on the University’s campus with the goal of exploring important topics related to health in Western North Carolina, particularly healthcare access, rural health, health workforce and public health. 

Ten legislators who represent WNC attended the caucus held on Feb. 10, including Health Policy Initiative Expert in Residence Senator Ralph Hise; Senators Kevin Corbin, Julie Mayfield and Warren Daniel; and Representatives Ray Pickett, Eric Ager, Lindsey Prather, Mark Pless, Mike Clampitt and Jake Johnson.  

“We have a unique opportunity here in Western North Carolina to really move the needle on those issues that are most important to our citizens,” said Kimberly van Noort, interim chancellor of UNC Asheville, in her opening remarks. 

“We are hard at work with our master of public health degree [and] our degree program in health and wellness promotion, both of which strengthen the public health sector, along with an incredibly strong array of STEM-discipline faculty and programs,” van Noort added. “We are partnering and looking for collaborations with our sister institutions in the region […] to come together to provide the underpinnings for this effort, in order to help move the needle and improve the health and wellness of all Western North Carolinians.”

The event provided attendees the opportunity to meet regional healthcare and public health leaders and learn about key health policy priorities for Western North Carolinians, including the current state of the healthcare and public health landscape in WNC; needs and challenges unique to WNC health and healthcare; and resources HPI and WNC health leaders have to offer to inform and support healthcare work.

The UNC Asheville’s Health Policy Initiative, hosted by the NC Center for Health and Wellness, gathers together health policy experts, community health leaders, and content experts from across the country to discuss some of the most challenging issues related to improving the health of Western North Carolinians. The initiative was formed to function as a convener of and conduit for information, resources, and coalition-building between policy makers, regional public health, and healthcare leadership. 

“The Health Policy Initiative convenes discussions every Friday to share resources, learn from health care, social care, and public health experts to build connections across sectors, discuss solutions, and make policy recommendations for WNC, “ said Amy Joy Lanou, executive director, NC Center for Health and Wellness. She adds, “Guests and HPI team members come for the provocative conversations and stay for the bagel bites.”

For more information, email Dr. Amy Joy Lanou, at alanou@unca.edu. If you are interested in joining these health policy conversations, use this interest form.