Eleven Members of the General Assembly Recognized as Inaugural Health Policy Program Fellows

Left to Right: Meka Sales (The Duke Endowment); William Barnet (IMPH Board member); Rep. David J. Mack; Rep. Jenny A. Horne; Mary Piepenbring (The Duke Endowment); Rep. Rita A. Allison; Rep. Laurie S. Funderburk; Rep. Mike Ryhal
Not Pictured: Sen. John W. Matthews; Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney; Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter; Rep. Phyllis Henderson; Rep. Joe H. Neal; Rep. Andy Patrick

Eleven members of the South Carolina General Assembly have been recognized as the inaugural class of fellows from the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health’s (IMPH) Health Policy Fellows Program.  That program, supported by The Duke Endowment and Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, provides members of the General Assembly with clear, evidence-based health policy information in a non-partisan manner.

“The Health Policy Fellows Program is a unique opportunity for elected officials to receive evidence-based information on health issues from a neutral source,” stated IMPH Executive Director Kester Freeman.  “The inaugural offering of this program represents a critical milestone in the work of the SC Institute of Medicine and Public Health to inform policy to improve health and healthcare in our state.”

Members of the inaugural class of fellows were recognized during a reception Tuesday evening in the presence of some of their legislative colleagues from the House and Senate.  Others in the audience included representatives from the funding organizations and members of the IMPH board of directors.   Mr. Freeman presented certificates of recognition to the fellows.

As chairman of the IMPH Board, Dr. Fred Carter expressed, “We’re delighted at the success of this inaugural Health Policy Fellows Program. The legislators interacted extensively with the presenters and sustained an ongoing dialogue about health programs and the state of healthcare in this state. We are all appreciative of The Duke Endowment and Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina working with us to make this possible.”

The Fellows Program is intended to assist elected officials by providing resources and information related to complex health topics.  These issues are sometimes clearly defined but can frequently be embedded in factors outside the influence of traditional health and healthcare.  This program highlights the importance of considering health implications as factors across all policy decisions.

Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter shared, “The Health Policy Fellows Program is an invaluable resource to help elected officials connect the dots between health, education, employment, preventive care and the environment.  I strongly encourage all of my colleagues to invest time in this educational program.”

The Fellows Program included national speakers as well as South Carolina experts.  Panels of health and public health professionals provided information about our state’s health challenges and shared examples of promising practices across the state that are achieving success in improving community health.  Sessions focused on outlining the challenges and opportunities to improve health in South Carolina; improving the return on investment in health systems and financing; and using a practical framework for engaging in open, balanced and effective dialogue.   

“It was an honor to be a member of the Health Policy Fellows Program,” stated Representative Mike Ryhal.  “The speakers did an exceptional job of presenting the complex issues of healthcare education, community involvement and personal responsibility.  The emphasis on the necessity of providers, businesses and the legislative body working together to come up with meaningful solutions was excellent.”

The next offering of the Health Policy Fellows Program is planned for the fall of 2015.

The full class of inaugural Fellows:

Senator John W. Matthews, Jr.

Senator Clementa C. Pinckney

Representative Rita A. Allison

Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter

Representative Laurie S. Funderburk

Representative Phyllis Henderson

Representative Jenny A. Horne

Representative David J. Mack, III

Representative Joe H. Neal

Representative Andy Patrick

Representative Mike Ryhal


About the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health
The South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH) is an independent entity serving as a neutral convener around the important health issues in our state.  IMPH also serves as a resource for evidence-based information and to inform health policy decisions.  For more information please visit www.imph.org.

About The Duke Endowment
Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.

About the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, established in 1996, is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System. The Foundation is committed to addressing the needs of the poor and underserved in all 46 South Carolina counties, and strategically uses resources to reduce poverty through action, advocacy and leadership.

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