State Office of Rural Health

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Policy Briefs

 

The Virginia State Office of Rural Health will be publishing a monthly series of rural health briefs. The intention of these briefs is to provide the reader a better understanding of the challenges rural and underserved communities have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each brief will address different health-related topics and provide opportunities for improvement on how to build a healthier rural Virginia during, and following the pandemic.

 

Maternity Care Access in West Piedmont (August 2022)

by Sety Abooali

Maternity care is vital in ensuring that pregnant females and their newborns stay healthy throughout and after the pregnancy, but many rural residents across the United States (US) face barriers to accessing maternity care due to an absence of obstetric (OB) facilities, limited or lack of obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) healthcare professionals, and long transportation times. After the closure of the Sovah Health-Martinsville labor and delivery unit in Virginia’s West Piedmont health district, those living in Martinsville and surrounding counties have less access to OB care. Less access to maternity care is correlated with increased risks of the mother and baby experiencing adverse birth outcomes. This policy brief will explore the decreased accessibility to maternity care in the West Piedmont region and its effects, as well as some recommendations to eliminate maternity care deserts.

To access the policy brief, click here.

 


 

Albemarle County’s Housing Crisis (July 2022)

by Sety Abooali

This policy brief explores Albemarle County’s new policy approach of addressing the need for available and affordable housing while preserving the surrounding rural natural environment. Albemarle is predominantly rural, and their urban-focused housing development agenda may overlook the pressing need for healthy rural housing and living conditions, especially for the rising senior population. The county’s housing policies are also rooted in systemic racism which has created disadvantages of homeownership and housing cost burdens for marginalized communities of color. To effectively confront its housing crisis, Albemarle County will have to utilize a health equity lens to fully address the housing needs of the rural communities.

To access the policy brief, click here.

 


 

Focus on School-based Mental Health for Rural Central Virginia’s Youth (June 2022)

by Sety Abooali

This policy brief will highlight the rising need for accessible mental health care among the rural youth population residing in central Virginia (VA). Those living in rural areas have historically been more susceptible to poor mental health days and decreased access to healthcare care services. The school shutdowns caused by the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic only heightened the mental health issues among the adolescent population. Expanding School-based Mental Health (SBMH) services is an opportunity to focus on the youth population’s mental health needs in an effective and convenient way, but legislation is needed to address rural school boards’ limited funding resources in order for SBMH to be implemented.

To access the policy brief, click here.

 


 

Food Insecurity in Southwest Virginia (May 2022)

by Sety Abooali

This policy brief will explore the intersectionality between food insecurity and socioeconomic status as well as the COVID-19 impacts, specifically focusing on Southwest Virginia (SWVA). The majority of the Southwest Virginia region is federally designated as rural, and has the highest food insecurity and lowest socioeconomic status in Virginia. Yet, data on food insecurity and its consequences in the region is limited. Thus, this policy brief will also highlight the seriousness and complexity of food insecurity in SWVA and the need for future research.

To access the policy brief, click here.