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April 6 forum aims to spark innovative action in rural health

As quality rural healthcare continues to be a top priority for citizens in western North Carolina, government, education, and healthcare leaders are invited to a forum highlighting visionaries within the healthcare industry. Hosted by the NC Rural Center and Southwestern Commission Council of Governments, “Innovations in Health: A Driving Force of Economic Development in Southwestern NC” will be held from 1:00 – 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 6, at the Western Carolina University Health and Human Services Building.

Patrick Woodie, President of NC Rural Health Center, says the forum offers a great opportunity to meet with others interested in the connection between healthcare and economic development. “The gaps in healthcare in rural North Carolina have been persistent and we will only be able to close those gaps by finding new ways of doing business,” he says. “Innovation is vital if we’re going to keep rural communities economically viable.”

Speakers include Dr. Susan Mims of Dogwood Health Trust, WCU Chancellor Kelli Brown and Casey Cooper, CEO of the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority.

“No matter the challenges in this region – whether broadband, housing or healthcare – strong partnerships are key to overcoming a lack of resources that often impacts rural communities,” says Southwestern Commission Executive Director Russ Harris. “Being able to host events that emphasize those partnerships and their solutions is a win-win to better serving all of the people in this region.”

The free event is limited to 80 participants. Those interested can register online at

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