Rural Health Fellows In Action

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, April 30, 2024

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Chambers County is getting a lesson in healthcare literacy at the Chambers County Community Health and Wellness Center (CCCHWC). 

The Rural Health Outreach Initiative held a meeting on Friday to present six projects from a group of Auburn University Rural Health Fellows conducting research and outreach projects at the center. 

The focus of the projects is nutrition, audiology, food insecurity, building community, mental health, cardiovascular health, epidemiology and health literacy. 

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Auburn University Rural Health Outreach has been working with the Chambers County Extension Office, the Chambers County Commission and the city of LaFayette to bring healthcare resources, access and literacy to the rural community. 

The center has been manned by Auburn University students and faculty as well as center staff for the past year as they conducted informational events, held free health screenings and evaluations and conducted research into healthcare disparity and inequity. 

Each week, two Auburn fellows have held speech and hearing screenings at the center for the past year. Speech and language pathologist Lydia Allison oversees the speech screenings, while Rural Health Outreach assistant Abigail Weyerman and fellow Lexy Barraza conduct research. 

If any visitors’ hearing screenings lead to concerns, they are referred to a full evaluation at the center or the university campus. Barraza discussed a project they started collecting and testing hearing aids that community members may qualify for. 

The center also hosted frequent blood pressure and cholesterol screenings. Kinesthiology fellow Nina Stute is waiting on approval to begin her project focusing on cardiovascular research into potassium and hydration status. 

Recently, the center received two micro-pantries for donated food drive items and produce from a community garden on site. These projects were started by Auburn fellows Jai Rodriguez and Chris Khalaf, to help address the food insecurity in the area. 

Ultimately, all of the programs at the center are designed to address the healthcare disparity of the rural community. Healthcare disparity is an issue that affects rural communities and minority groups. The best way to combat it is by bringing resources, access and health literacy to the community.

The following projects were presented during the event:

Nutrition: Education for Populations Living with Chronic Conditions, led by Auburn fellow Janie Greene

Audiology: Supplying hearing Aids to populations of need, led by Barraza

Food Insecurity: Micro-pantry at CCCHWC, led by Khalaf

Building Community: Creating Community Gardens

Women’s health: Period Poverty in High School Females, led by Auburn fellow Sarah Putzer

Mental Health: Walk and Talk for Youth, led by Auburn fellow Chandler Lawrence

Cardiovascular Health Program: Exploring easy lifestyle changes, led by Stute

Epidemiology: Examining Data for Health in Eastern Alabama, led by Auburn fellow Miranda Daniels