Our First Stop: Hoke County

Today we started our 100 county campaign.

First up: Hoke County.

The first thing we did was buy some chicken hoagies at the Home Food Grill.

Then I put my laptop on the trunk of my car and held a virtual town hall for anyone in Hoke who wanted to join us.

We heard from a teacher who was concerned about racial disparities in educational achievement.

We heard from a caregiver who was concerned about the vaccine rollout.

We talked with a Soldier about mental health care for our troops.

I took questions on school construction, job creation, the 401 bypass needing a turn lane, gerrymandering, and — yes — Lara Trump.

It was a great conversation where I spent as much time listening as talking, which is the whole idea behind building an agenda that actually reflects our state.

Then we went to the Cape Fear Valley Hoke Hospital and met with its President, Dr. Roxie Wells.

We met in a conference room and she talked to me about her pride in her staff and their accomplishments over the last year.

She talked to me about what Medicaid expansion would mean for people in Hoke: more services, more clinics, better outcomes.

She said, “We won’t begin to bring down health care spending as a share of GDP until we get equity right.” Her message to me was that health care equity is the key to preventative treatment, which is the key to bringing down costs.

But she also expanded on the concept of equity: “It’s racial and ethnic, but it’s also geographic.” She told me that telemedicine had played a huge role in providing treatment during the pandemic, and that a lot of those new practices are here to stay — but for lots of families in rural counties like Hoke the digital divide they experience at home will be a barrier.

And she said something that goes to the heart of why we’re doing a 100 county campaign: “When you’ve seen one rural hospital, you’ve seen *one rural hospital.*”

I thought that was a great point.

We tend to split counties into two groups: urban and rural.

But within each group, there’s enormous variety. And unless you show up, it’s hard to see that.

Tomorrow we’re headed to Yadkin County. We’ll do a virtual town hall and learn what matters to them. I’ll update you on the way home.

- Jeff

North Carolina State Senator

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