Approximately 25.7 million people live in the Appalachian region of the United States (U.S.) Forty-two percent of the region’s population lives in rural areas, compared with only 20% of the nation. This region has historically been plagued with unique healthcare needs and poor health outcomes. Among the leading causes of death in the U.S., Appalachian residents have higher mortality rates from heart disease, diabetes, opioids, and cancer (17%, 11%, 72% and 10% higher, respectively) than national rates.  Of the 420 counties in the Appalachian region, 149 rank in the worst national quintile regarding years of potential life lost (YPLL).

This region also has lower supplies of healthcare professionals when compared to the overall nation, including primary care physicians and advanced practice nurses, mental health providers, specialty physicians, and dentists. Lower household incomes and higher poverty rates (two primary social determinants of health that drive health outcomes) reflect worse living conditions in the region when compared to the rest of the nation.

The COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on existent obstacles that Appalachian residents face, such as access to basic internet services. Nationally, healthcare providers began to rely more on telehealth during the pandemic. However, less than 60% of rural Appalachian households have access to broadband internet, rendering telehealth a non-viable option for those households in-need. Additionally, the reliance on technology to maintain social relationships during COVID-19 has presented many mental health challenges to those without basic internet, contributing to higher risk of social isolation, depression, anxiety, and substance misuse. 

The Healthcare in Appalachia conference is designed to address the unique needs and circumstances of the Appalachian region.  This conference will feature experts in the medical, mental health and public health fields and provide practical advice, tips, and resources to health care providers and public health professionals.

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Carole Myers, PhD, RN, FAAN

Professor University of Tennessee College of Nursing Knoxville, Tennessee
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Frances Feltner, DNP, MSN, RN

Director University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health College of Medicine Adjunct Assistant Professor Family and Community Medicine Adjunct Faculty, College of Nursing Adjunct Faculty, College of Health Science Hazard, Kentucky
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Andrea Welker, JD, MA

Supervising Attorney/Coordinator for Child Advocacy Today (CAT), UK’s Medical Legal Partnership UK HealthCare Adjunct Faculty, Child Advocacy Externship University of Kentucky College of Law Lexington, Kentucky
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Kristen Stakelin, MD, MLDE, CDE

Associate Professor, Medicine, Endocrinology and Molecular Medicine, Internal Medicine University of Kentucky College of Medicine Medical Director, Adult Endocrinology Clinic Barnstable Brown Diabetes and Obesity Center UK HealthCare Lexington, Kentucky
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Brandi Murriell, MBA, TCADC

Sr. Director of Outreach Relations Addiction Recovery Care Louisa, Kentucky
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Sara Coley

Public Health Student University of Tennessee Knoxville, Tennessee
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Keith Gray, MD, MBA

Chief Medical Officer UT Medical Center Knoxville, Tennessee
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Brent McKune, CHPS

Managing Director KY Regional Extension Center UK HealthCare Lexington, Kentucky
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Jennifer Russomanno, DrPH, MPH, CHES

Assistant Professor of Practice University of Tennessee Knoxville Knoxville, Tennessee
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Anthony Lockard, MSW, CSW

Director Kentucky River District Health Department (KRDHD) Hazard, Kentucky
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Rebecca Cheek, PharmD

Pharmacy Director Grace Health London, Kentucky
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Dottie Lyvers, MS

Director Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee Office on Aging Knoxville, Tennessee
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Robert Sprang, MBA

Director Kentucky TeleCare Co-Project Manager Kentucky TeleHealth Network University of Kentucky Lexington, Kentucky
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Ben Harrington, MA Ed

CEO Mental Health Association of East Tennessee Knoxville, Tennessee
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David Arehart, MD

Director Advanced Spine & Pain Crossville, Tennessee
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Amy Cox, BSW, MPH, CCM

Community Care Network Manager University of Tennessee Medical Center Knoxville, Tennessee
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David Aguilar, MD

Professor, Division of Cardiology UK HealthCare Lexington, Kentucky
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In support of improving patient care, University of Kentucky HealthCare CECentral is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.


This live activity is designated for a maximum of 14.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

IPE Competencies

  • Values/Ethics for Interprofessional Practice
  • Roles/ Responsibilities
  • Interprofessional Communication
  • Teams and Teamwork


This knowledge-based activity will award 14.5 contact hours (1.450 CEUs) of continuing pharmacy education credit in states that recognize ACPE providers.


Sponsored by Department of Public Health, Western Kentucky University, a designated provider of continuing education contact hours (CECH) in health education by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. This program is designated for Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES) and/or Master Certified Health Education Specialists (MCHES) to receive up to 14.5 total Category I continuing education contact hours. Maximum advanced-level continuing education contact hours available are 0. 14.5 Continuing Competency credits are available. Provider ID#


The maximum number of hours awarded for this Continuing Nursing Education activity is 14.5 nursing contact hours.


As a Jointly Accredited Organization, UK HealthCare CECentral is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved under this program. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. UK HealthCare CECentral maintains responsibility for this course. Social workers completing this course receive 18 clinical continuing education credits.