Rural Health Policy Fellows Program


The Health Policy Fellows Program is a signature program of IMPH and advances the mission of the Institute, to collectively inform policy to improve health and health care in South Carolina. IMPH serves as an informed nonpartisan convener and educator for policymakers and facilitates conversation about policy decisions that impact the health and well-being of our residents.

Through a local version of the program, the Rural Health Policy Fellows Program, IMPH, in partnership with the South Carolina Office of Rural Health, hosted one-day Rural Health Policy Fellows Programs in Williamsburg, Dillon, Darlington, Lee, Barnwell and Georgetown counties in 2022 and 2023 with elected policymakers and community leaders. Through this outreach and follow-up meetings, critical public health concerns in the six participating counties were identified.

This toolkit and the policy briefs have been developed to provide rural communities with information and relevant data to engage with appointed and elected officials to develop health policy solutions on the county and municipal levels. The policy briefs are for community members who want information about how to address specific public health concerns through policy.

This toolkit also provides guidance and tools for community members to engage policymakers about possible solutions.
  • Left to Right: Dr. Morris E. Brown III, MD, FAAFP, Lake City Family Medicine, Medical Direct; Regina L. Nesmith-Dimery, MS, Community Systems Team, DHEC – Pee Dee Region
  • IMPH meets with Dillon County decision-makers and health leaders
  • IMPH presents to Williamsburg County leaders
  • IMPH hosts its third rural HPFP in Darlington County
  • Left to right: Rep. Terry Alexander; Joe Bittle, CareSouth Carolina; and Rep. Robert Williams attend the Darlington session
  • IMPH meets with Barnwell community coalition members
  • IMPH Associate Director Erin Haire with Lee County leaders


What Can Counties Do

Counties have an important role in the policymaking process. From County Council Representatives making policies that cultivate a healthy community to boards and committees that write regulations to address public health issues, key decisions are made at the local level.
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Engaging Your Elected Officials

Interacting with your policymakers is an effective strategy used by community members to influence policy change. This can take the form of letter writing, phone calls and participating in hearings. It is important to remember to be specific when you are speaking to your elected officials.

Local Policymaking Process

IMPH Policymaking Process
The policymaking process involves defining the problem, engaging with decision-makers, initiating the new policy or budget proposed by city council, negotiation and public participation, and finally a vote. The policymaking process can be slow. Policy proposals may undergo multiple revisions before they are implemented.
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IMPH serves as the lead dissemination agent in South Carolina for the annual County Health Rankings. The 2024 County Health Rankings National Findings Report examines how well-resourced civic infrastructure gives us the space and opportunity to work together and how civic participation helps us build power to improve health.


Congressional Health Dashboard

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Local Policy Types and Descriptions

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Identify Your County Council Leadership

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If you have any questions, please email [email protected]

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