Appendix C: Key Informant Interview Summary

Key informants were asked to identify health issues that are being faced by children and young adults in their communities. A summary of the issues discussed and the number of key informants who discussed the issue is found in the table below.

Poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and the resulting obesity and diabetes were the most frequently issues cited. Economic and food insecurity were frequently linked with these issues.

“This county does not have the resources of the larger counties to feed these kids when school is out or at night and on weekends. Fresh food we all know is more expensive than the dollar menu at McDonalds. With very limited money they are going to choose the cheaper every time.”

“….. we have 64% of the kids that are on free or reduced meal programs. So, there’s economic challenges where there is an issue with kids getting enough to eat.”

Access to health providers was the second most frequently mentioned issue. Lack of providers in more rural areas was cited as a contributing factor while the high cost of for those with insurance and providers not being available outside of parents’ work schedules were common themes regardless of location.

“Patients either do not have a pediatrician in their community, their pediatrician is not open when they are off from work or school, or the wait to be seen is too long…. The rural areas also do not have access to after hours pediatric care.”

“Patients with a high deductible insurance essentially do not have access to health care. TennCare patients actually have better access to care than these patients. The families do not seek treatment because they cannot afford the deductible.”

The East Tennessee region is being heavily impacted by the opioid epidemic and drug abuse and addiction. Drug use and abuse has resulted in unstable homes, poor mental and behavioral health among children and young adults, and an increase in babies born with NAS. This societal problem is leading to an increased need for mental health providers specifically for young children.

“As the NAS babies reach school age-they are seeing a lot of school behavior problems and little treatment options.”

“There needs to be more pediatric providers for children that deal with mental health….”

“We have an abnormal percentage of special needs kids in our county and more have mental needs that lead to behavioral needs. It seems as though there is not a system in place to help with mental health or at least not an effective one.”