May 2023 ISSUE



Transforming Trauma into Resilience:

The Community Resiliency Model in Action

by Stephanie Basey, Ph.D., Center Research Assistant

Certified trainers Joan Anderson, JD, MPH, MBA, and Travis Crafter, LPC, both of the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center, deliver Community Resiliency Model training to Berrien

County residents.


In the heart of rural communities, where close-knit bonds and shared experiences shape the fabric of daily life, the impact of trauma can be deeply felt. Whether it's the aftermath of a natural disaster, the hidden wounds of domestic violence, or the cumulative weight of economic hardship, trauma leaves a mark on individuals and their communities. At the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center, we understand the urgent need to address the effects of trauma and build resilience from within. By providing free community resiliency training, GRHIC is helping rural communities heal, thrive, and stand strong in the face of adversity. 

The Community Resiliency Model (CRM) is a training program designed to promote individual and community resiliency by teaching individuals how to manage the effects of stress, adversity, or trauma. CRM can help build community resilience, promoting growth, well-being, and positive change by providing individuals with the tools and skills to manage challenging situations. By emphasizing the importance of self-care, positive thinking, and social support, CRM can help individuals develop sustainable and adaptable resilience, ultimately contributing to a more resilient and healthy community.

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Medical Students Receive CRM Training

GRHIC partnered with Mercer University School of Medicine to provide CRM training to 170 medical students across the state in March 2023. "I liked learning about the real-world examples of trauma and application of stress relieving methods," said a first-year medical student, who participated in the training.

During the two-hour training, the students learned practical techniques, such as grounding and soothing, to help manage their stress and emotions, enabling them to manage their work and patient interactions better. Medical students can apply these skills as they move through their medical education and enter rural practice as well as share their practical skills with their patients.

By learning how to manage stress and respond to trauma effectively, rural providers can feel more confident and better equipped to handle the demands of their job. This can lead to improved job satisfaction, reduced burnout, and better overall well-being.

GRHIC and the Center for Rural Health and Health Disparities Host Maternal Mental Health Training

To address the mental health challenges faced by pregnant and postpartum women, the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center (GRHIC) and the Center for Rural Health and Health Disparities (CRHHD), located at Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM), held a free Advanced Perinatal Mental Health Training in April.

The goal of the training was to educate health care providers, public health professionals, maternal child health advocates, and the public on signs and symptoms of perinatal mental health disorders (PMADs). Practitioners from Mercer and Emory, as well as private counselors, presented topics covering postpartum depression, perinatal trauma, perinatal OCD/complex anxiety, suicidal ideation, psychopharmacology, and more.


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Journal Publishes Farmer Well-Being Article

The Journal of Rural Health published an article by Anne Montgomery, Ph.D.,Chris Scoggins, M.P.H., and Stephanie Basey, Ph.D., along with GRHIC partner Lily Baucom, on stress and suicidal ideation among first-generation farmers. This is part of their eye-opening study on the mental health and well-being of Georgia's rural farmers.


Read More in the Journal of Rural Health

Montgomery Receives School of Medicine Promotion

Anne Montgomery, Ph.D., researcher and biostatistician at the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center, was promoted from assistant professor to associate professor at Mercer University School of Medicine. Dr. Montgomery is the co-director of the Rural Health Sciences Ph.D. program and teaches Population Health Medical Research for second-year medical students and Interdisciplinary Research Methods 1: Statistics for Ph.D. students.

Dr. Kedrick Williams teaches Mental Health First Aid for Berrien County community leaders.

Supporting Communities in Addressing Mental Health Challenges through Mental Health First Aid

by Stephanie Basey, Ph.D., Center Research Assistant, and Kedrick Williams, DHA, MPH, Center Senior

Field Representative

Mental health is an essential part of our overall well-being. Just like physical health, it can be impacted by various factors, including genetics, life experiences, and environmental factors. However, it's important to remember that mental health challenges can be invisible and that there is no one-size-fits-all way they look or feel. Mental health challenges are incredibly common, affecting people of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences. Yet, despite their prevalence, many individuals feel uncomfortable discussing mental health or providing support to those who may be struggling. This is where Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) becomes important.


It's impossible to look at someone and know if they are experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis. Even people close to us, like our friends, family members, and neighbors, may be experiencing mental health challenges and we are unaware. Statistics show that mental health challenges are widespread and affect millions worldwide. The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that more than 1.4 million adults in Georgia have a mental health condition. This includes anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many others. Mental health challenges can be triggered by various factors, including stress, trauma, loss, and major life changes, and they can impact anyone, regardless of their background or circumstances.

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Pictured: Kimberly Gunby, Nelliena Young, Leeia Fields, Jonathon Edgy, Megan Hobbs, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Fortenberry, Mercer University School of Medicine Dean Dr. Jean Sumner, Mercer University President William D. Underwood, Mackenzie Best, Alyssa Lorenzen, Harsimran Singh, Lauren Brooker, Landon Simmons. Photo by John Knight

First Class of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Rural Pediatric Scholars Announced

Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) recently announced the first group of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Rural Pediatric Scholarship Program recipients for the 2023 academic year.

MUSM selected scholars based on their commitment to become pediatricians, strong ties to rural Georgia, character, leadership qualities, community involvement, and their commitment to serving in rural, underserved Georgia after their scholarship obligations are met. They will receive full tuition for up to four academic years and must maintain good academic standing.

The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Rural Pediatric Scholarship Program was established as part of a joint initiative between MUSM and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (Children’s), which was announced in February 2023. The scholarship, along with other projects, is funded by a dedicated and long-term sustainable fund allocated by the Children’s Board of Trustees.

Read More on The Den

Project: Enhancing Pediatric Emergency Room Care

The Pediatric Emergency Room Care team is tasked with assisting eight rural hospitals as they reinforce their pediatric services. Hospitals will be supported through training, protocol, and telemedicine to provide patients excellent quality pediatric care close to home. Work is underway having completed site visits and readiness assessments at all eight hospitals. Staff training needs have been assessed and the team is working to secure trainers to begin working with the hospitals. Currently, telehealth and equipment site visits are taking place to identify needs. With Mercer University School of Medicine, the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center will organize and provide training to enhance skills in children's emergent care.

Project: Community-Based Pediatrician Support

The Community-Based Pediatrician Support Team is assessing telehealth support in six rural pediatric offices, planning for the Children’s Scholars Summer Experience, preparing for next month’s launch of the monthly CME pediatric lecture series, and seasonal pediatric e-newsletter distribution. Pediatric offices are being assessed for telehealth support. The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Rural Pediatric Scholars Summer Experience will take place June 20–July 28 and will provide an intensive educational and pediatric-career focused clinical experience inclusive of shadowing rural pediatricians and participating in Children’s Days, where the scholars will visit and tour the Scottish Rite Hospital and more. The monthly Pediatric Advancement Speakers Series (PASS) will commence on June 14 with a subject matter expert highlighting infectious diseases and continue on the second Wednesday of each month through the end of this year. The first issue of the seasonal pediatric e-newsletter will be published this summer.

Project: Mental Health and Wellness Support

and Care

The Mental Health and Wellness Support and Care team is tasked with implementing evidence-based wellness screenings that identify health issues and suicide risk in students at school systems in Jefferson and Washington counties. The team has identified workstreams to include screening strategy, intervention and pathways, and analytics and clinical capacity. During summer programs, preliminary mental health and wellness screenings will lay the groundwork for a plan to fully implement screenings in all schools and grades in those counties for the 2023-2024 academic year. Additionally, a local pediatrician's office will pilot referral and in-office telehealth services for mental and behavioral health services.

Post-PHE Telehealth Compliance

The end of the public health emergency (PHE) on May 11 brought with it a shift in telehealth compliance policies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allowed certain telehealth flexibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some telehealth provisions became permanent while others were only temporary. Of note, the enforcement of penalties for providers using non-public facing applications, such as Facebook Video and Apple FaceTime, for telehealth delivery in good faith was relaxed during the pandemic. At the end of the PHE, the HHS’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) granted a 90-day transition term to covered health care providers to allow time to bring telehealth and remote communications into HIPAA compliance. Providers must migrate to HIPAA compliant platforms, like Pathways, by the end of the transition period on August 9, 2023 or risk penalties imposed by OCR.

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

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

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

The Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center is hosting the 2023 Maternal Health Symposium, titled Life Cycle of Maternal Health.

Join us on June 22, 9 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. on Mercer University's Macon campus.

Symposium Speakers:

Jennifer Tarbutton, MD

Jennifer Holton, MD


Keisha Callins, MD, MPH

Sherry Farr, RN, BSN, with Kellie Mercer, BS

Stephanie Dare Singleton, MD, FACOG


The Georgia Nurses Foundation has a new scholarship program:

In the Fall of 2022, health insurance company Amerigroup made a generous donation of $35,000 to the Georgia Nurses Foundation to support its mission: To foster the welfare and wellbeing of nurses, and promote and advance the nursing profession, thereby enhancing the health of the public. The Foundation purposed the funds to award four academic scholarships of $8,000 to qualifying Licensed Professional Nurses (LPN) enrolled in an accredited Associate or Bachelor of Nursing program to become a Registered Nurse. Each scholarship will be paid in two installments of $4,000. The first installment shall be paid upon acceptance into a full-time accredited Associate or Bachelor of Nursing program. The second installment shall be paid upon successful completion of the first year and proof of re-enrolment for the second year of each respective accredited program.



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.



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