Thursday, April 23, 2009

Worrying about South Carolina wildfires

   There's something unnerving about arriving in a city halfway across the country (Albuquerque, in this case) and learning that something awful is happening back home.  Reportedly, a wildfire has by now destroyed 70 homes, damaged more, and affected a considerable swath of coastal Horry County.  The distress experienced by those families is significant, and there are other reasons for concern about fires.
   While Horry County may not technically be rural, it is an important employer for rural persons in South Carolina, who often commute long distances to work in the huge coastal tourist industry.   South Carolina's unemployment rate at its highest levels since the early 1980s and the economy leads experts to predict shortfalls in pleasure travel for the coming tourist season. Overall human costs could spread beyond those families unfortunate enough to have been in the direct path of the fire.
    There is also a "critter cost."  Not many people outside of South Carolina know about the "Carolina Bays," mentioned in the news feeds as a source of peat and other vegetation that kept the fire burning and make it difficult to extinguish.  The Bays are not offshoots of the ocean, but shallow depressions scattered across the landscape that form mini-wetlands; a rich and unique feature of the Carolina landscape.  [For more information, see]  While the Bays evolved experiencing periodic fires, bulldozers creating firebreaks are not something the trees & critters are prepared for.  

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bringing Rural to Social Work

Jan and Saundra were guest speakers at the College of Social Work seminar on Friday, April 17.  Saundra's presentation focused on the many activities of the USC Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities, with particular attention to the community based participatory research projects surrounding HPB and HIV in the rural Orangeburg, SC community.  CBPR was catnip to an audience of social work faculty!  Jan focused on the recent work of the SCRHRC from Health Disparities: A Rural-Urban Chartbook.  Numbers are a harder sell for that particular discipline, unless their focus is very macro social work.  But there is a need for all of our gifts.  

Congrats to Saundra Glover

We're delighted to report that the SCRHRC's Associate Director, Dr. Saundra Glover, has been recognized by the Black Faculty and Student Association at the University of South Carolina.  At the April 15 awards luncheon, Dr. Glover received the Affirmative Action Award of the BFSA, for her role in promoting meaningful job opportunities for minority faculty, staff, and students.  In the photo:  Dr. Rodrick Moore, President of the BFSA; Dr. Glover; Dr. Harris Pastides, President of the University.  Go Saundra!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thanks to our Researcher-User Network!

We had our first phone meeting of our Researcher-User Network group yesterday.  Many thanks to all participants! We are enormously grateful to this talented group of individuals who are willing to work with the SCRHRC to ensure that our research is a] helpful to rural practitioners, and b] reaches the persons who can benefit from our findings most effectively.  These folks are both generous and terrific:
     Graham Adams, PhD CEO of the South Carolina Office of Rural Health and past president of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health
     Patrick (Pat) Libbey, immediate past executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials  
     Roberta (Bobbi) Ryder, CEO of the National Center for Farmworker Health, Inc. 
     Robert Graham, MD, Professor at the Department of Family Medicine, University of Cincinnati 
     Maya Rockeymoore, PhD, Director of Program Leadership, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
     [Catherine Hess, Senior Program Director at the National Academy for State Health Policy, couldn't make the phone call, but we hope to meet her soon!]