EPI student Emily Arthur won the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award, Masters Level for the project, “Maternal Health in Rural Virginia”.
Dean’s Day is an annual student research competition. Students present their research during multiple poster sessions while faculty members judge presentations for prizes and students evaluate posters for Grand Rounds credit.
Visit publichealth.pitt.edu/deansday to learn more about the competition and see a full list of winners.
“The Virginia Rural Health Association (VRHA) is a nonprofit organization working for the 2.5 million people who call rural Virginia their home. [Their] mission is to improve the health of rural Virginians through education, advocacy, and fostering cooperative partnerships”. (VRHA, 2021). Healthcare access is very limited in rural Virginia with obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN) services non-existent in many counties forcing women to travel to receive the necessary services. VRHA compiles data on all rural counties and determines which areas have the greatest need of services. From there, VRHA partners with policymakers and stakeholders to provide help to at-risk areas. The practicum experience provided by VRHA included gathering and obtaining data from various sources to produce tables and graphs for grant applications. VRHA would use those grant funding to work with community partners to address maternal health outcomes.
Searches were conducted that pertained to maternal health indicators such as low birth weight, rural population, teen birth rates, number of hospitals, etc. Data sources included the Rural Health Information Hub, County Health Rankings Database, Virginia Department of Health Database, and the United States Census Data.
From the data that were compiled, the national and state data were compared to seven rural Virginia counties: Essex, King George, Lancaster, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland. Essex had the highest percentage of low birth weight (14%) compared to the national and state percentage of 8%. Westmoreland had the highest teen birth rate (30%) compared to the national average (16.7%) and the state average (16%). Maternal smoking was the highest in Northumberland (16.7%) compared to the national average (16%) and the state average (5.6%). Lastly, King George, Middlesex, and Westmoreland all had no hospitals within their county while Essex, Lancaster and Northumberland have one. Although, none of these hospitals have OB-GYN services.
Evidence gathered during this practicum showed which rural counties have both limited access to hospital care and a high percentage of maternal health issues.