June 2023 ISSUE



Rural Community Outreach Exposes Students to Health Care Professions

Outreach to rural Georgia communities is a vital part of the mission of both the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center (GRHIC) and Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM). The MUSM Pathways Program, in particular, serves as an avenue to reach middle school, high school, and undergraduate students while promoting awareness of health care careers.

According to Be-Atrice Cunningham, director of MUSM’s Pathways program, community outreach is one of the ways MUSM is tackling the challenges of rural health by preparing the next generation of outstanding providers through education, research, and community engagement. She said, “We are constantly working to increase the diversity of our pool of applicants specifically targeting rural, underserved areas so that we can develop a pipeline of qualified students who are not only interested in practicing medicine but also interested in practicing in rural Georgia. We are building that pipeline from the ground up through our Pathways program.”

Exposing students to professional careers early can significantly influence their education and career choices. By engaging students in rural communities, programs like Pathways provide unique opportunities to expose bright students to careers they may never have heard of, help them cultivate an interest, and develop professional skills that can be used in their hometowns.

This summer, GRHIC and MUSM teamed up to offer three free medical camps: an in-person camp for students in Randolph County, an in-person camp for Berrien County students, and a virtual camp for students across the state.

Pictured: Mercer Physician Assistant student Hannah Humphrey demonstrates how to suture a wound.

Read More about Outreach Camps

Rural Pediatrician Spotlight:

Grace Davis, MD, MPH

Dr. Grace Davis was selected as one of six pediatricians to participate in the Community-Based Pediatric Pilot Project as part of the Rural Pediatric Health Alliance. She is the only pediatrician practicing in Worth County.


Medical School: Washington University in St. Louis


Medical Residency: University of South Florida Morsani


Fun Fact: Dr. Davis is a native of Jamaica.


Dr. Davis was exposed to the health care issues facing rural communities when she practiced for a Federally Qualified Health Center in Albany, Georgia. During her time there, she explored the surrounding areas and the medical needs of Terrell and Worth counties. She quickly realized the lack of health care available for the general population, much less the children living in those communities. She has served as a pediatrician in Worth County since 2000. “I tell people this type of work is not going to make you a billionaire, but it is the type of work that is going to fulfill you. You will know you are doing good and helping sustain a community.” Dr. Davis is thrilled to be part of the Rural Pediatric Health Alliance as a pediatrician. “I’m looking forward to the children having access to specialty care by the telemedicine collaboration. The families just don’t have the resources to get their child to see a specialist. If we can get the specialists to see them while they are in my office, that is going to be a game changer.”

Stay Hydrated this Summer with Homemade Watermelon Lemonade


3 cups diced watermelon, in half-inch pieces.

½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, from 3-4 lemons

¼ cup of sugar

¼ cup of water

1 cup of ice cubes


Place watermelon in a blender and puree until smooth. Let puree settle for about 5 minutes until the pulp rises to the top and the clearer juice remains at the bottom. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer, and rub with a spoon to extract juice from the pulp, leaving about 2 teaspoons of pulp behind.

Place ¼ cup sugar and ¼ cup water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. When sugar is completely dissolved, turn off the heat. Add sugar syrup, lemon juice, and 1 cup ice to strained watermelon puree, and stir to melt ice. Taste and check for the balance of lemon juice to sugar, and adjust if necessary.

For minty watermelon lemonade, rub 2 sprigs of mint in between your palms until bruised and very fragrant. Add to lemonade.

Serve over ice with lemon slices and watermelon triangles.

Check out more recipes and locally grown products from Georgia Grown

Honeycutt Named Telehealth Director

Ed Honeycutt joined the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center in May of 2023. He serves as senior telehealth project manager for the Rural Pediatric Health Alliance. Bringing his experience as a manager from Global Partnership for Telehealth, Honeycutt has managed many rural telehealth projects in Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama since 2014. A former teacher, he still enjoys teaching English as a second language to Chinese students in his spare time. He and his wife, Ruth, enjoy traveling, mountain biking, and spending time with children and grandchildren at their cabin in the Smokies.

Community-Based Pediatrician Support Expands with Sixth Site

The Community-Based Pediatric Pilot Project has grown with the addition of a sixth clinical office site. At the time of conducting the telehealth assessment for Drs. Brittany Lord and Johnny Peeples of the Eastman Pediatric Clinic, these pediatricians expressed the significant need for telehealth services at their McRae satellite office, New Life Pediatrics. Upon receipt of this request, program administration and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta executives gave the recommendation for New Life Pediatrics to become the sixth clinical office site. With this new addition, more rural children will gain access to pediatric specialty care, and Telfair County will now be among the pilot group of counties positively impacted by the Rural Pediatric Health Alliance.

Pictured: Community-Based Pediatrician Support Team Lead Kedrick Williams, DHA, MPH, with Brittany Lord, MD

Network Connects Rural Pediatric Health Care Providers

The Rural Pediatric Network was established as part of a joint initiative with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (Children’s), Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM), and the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center (GRHIC). The network serves as a means of support and training for all of Georgia’s rural pediatricians and rural family practitioners. Physicians and advanced practice practitioners have opportunities to learn from their peers and complete trainings facilitated by experts.

Rural Pediatric News is published bimonthly and highlights training and continuing medical education options, recommended reading, physician spotlights, seasonal health and wellness information to share with patients, and more.

The Pediatric Advanced Speakers Series is a free monthly training series for providers to earn CME credits, offered by Mercer University School of Medicine, through one-hour virtual training sessions, with subject matter experts in a variety of topics. PASS includes peer-led rural pediatric patient case studies and an in-person CME fall conference.

If you are a rural pediatric provider, please click for more information.

Grow Your Telehealth Knowledge through Workgroups

The Southeastern Telehealth Resource Center (SETRC) is hosting online telehealth workgroups for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. SETRC is one of 14 Telehealth Resource Centers funded by the federal Office for the Advancement of Telehealth. SETRC's mission is to serve as the focal point for advancing telehealth in rural and underserved communities in the southeastern U.S.  

The meetings are open to anyone interested in telehealth in their state. The state workgroups bring together a grassroots network, and attendees have the opportunity to network, get the latest updates, learn tools and tips, and connect with potential partners. 


  • Georgia: July 26, 10 a.m. – Noon ET
  • Alabama: July 27, 10 a.m. – Noon CT
  • Florida: July 28, 10 a.m. – Noon ET

Click for Details

2023 Ongoing Center Initiatives

Maternal Health Improvement

All Rural Counties

Dr. Kedrick Williams

Maternal Health Observership

All Rural Counties

Dr. Kedrick Williams

Maternal Health Symposium

All Rural Counties

Joan Anderson

Community Health Reporter

All Rural Counties

Dr. Kedrick Williams

Clinical Ethics ECHO

All Rural Counties

Chris Scoggins

Opioid Misuse Prevention Project

Rural Hospitals

Joan Anderson, Chris Scoggins

ASIST Suicide Training

All Rural Counties

Travis Crafter

Rural Trauma Training

All Rural Counties

Glenda Grant

Community Resiliency

Model (CRM)

All Rural Counties

Joan Anderson, Travis Crafter

Mental Health First Aid

All Rural Counties

Dr. Kedrick Williams,

Glenda Grant

Pediatric Mental Health Initiative

Ben Hill, Jefferson, Washington

Joan Anderson

Barber/Beauty Shop Project

Rural Counties TBD

Dr. Kimberly Carr

QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention

All Rural Counties

Joan Anderson

Hancock County COVID-19/Flu Vaccine Hesitancy Needs Assessment


Dr. Kimberly Carr

Faith in Rural Health

Berrien, Putnam, Toombs/Montgomery

Chris Scoggins

Health Fairs

Rural Partners

Amanda Livingston

Mercer University School of Medicine is hosting

Virtual Med Camp for rural Georgia middle and high school students.

This week-long virtual camp will cover relevant health topics taught by Mercer University School of Medicine doctors, scientists, and medical students. Each day will have a teaching component and a hands-on activity. All activity supplies are provided free of charge: games, interactive experiments, camp t-shirt. Supplies will be mailed.

July 10 | Bodysurfing: The Human Body

July 11 | Diving in: Health Care Professions

July 12 | Mental Health Lifesavers: CRM Training

July 13 | Take a Deep Breath: Mental Health Awareness

July 14 | Beach Patrol: P.A. for a Day


The Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center works with rural partners to enhance health education through health fairs. 

We encourage these community members to join us:

Harris County | July 29

Co-hosts: Mercer Medicine, Harris County School District

Randolph County | September 9

Co-host: Randolph County Family Connection

Upson County | September 23

Host: Dissipating Disparities

Washington County | October 7

Are you a vendor wanting to participate in a health fair?

Submit the application below.



In 2018, Georgia lawmakers dedicated special funds to establish a new Rural Health Innovation Center tasked with confronting the complex health care challenges and wellness disparities facing rural communities. Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) was awarded the grant funds in 2019 and formally established the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center on its Macon campus. MUSM boasts a longstanding commitment to serving rural Georgia’s health needs, with a mission to educate physicians dedicated to tackling the health challenges in rural Georgia. The Rural Health Innovation Center serves as a critical resource to rural communities to improve access and effectiveness of health care by offering research, collaboration, and training opportunities.



Facebook  Instagram  LinkedIn  Twitter