Women leading the charge: Advocating for health equity in rural South Carolina

March 08, 2024
Two women wearing black clothing smile for a photo.
LaShandra Morgan, left, and Courtney Snell have organized a series of rural health clinics, offering a comprehensive range of screenings and vaccinations to residents. Photo provided

This is part of MUSC's 2024 Women's History Month series. For more coverage, please see links at the bottom of this story.

In the rural expanse of Orangeburg, Calhoun and Bamberg counties, two remarkable women are spearheading a movement for health equity. LaShandra Morgan, Ed.D., and Courtney Snell, APRN, are the driving forces behind the Orangeburg Division of Healthy Me–Healthy SC (HMHSC), a collaboration between MUSC Health and Clemson Extension, dedicated to enhancing access to health care and promoting wellness in underserved communities.

Morgan, a native of Atlanta, found her purpose in Orangeburg, where she pursued her education at South Carolina State University, following in the footsteps of her parents who met there. With over 20 years of experience in community health, Morgan’s commitment to addressing the systemic barriers to health care access is unwavering. She specializes in analyzing environmental data and advocating for transformative changes in rural health care systems.

Returning to Atlanta after college, Morgan felt a persistent tug to go back to Orangeburg, believing it to be her calling. “This work found me,” she shared, attributing her journey to a higher purpose. “I feel God placed me in Orangeburg and called me back here from Atlanta.”


Despite the challenges she faces, Morgan remains resolute in her mission. “The hardest part of this job is seeing how a person’s health can be affected by the stress of meeting basic needs for themselves and their families,” she reflected.

However, she remains optimistic, recognizing that the obstacles – such as transportation issues, lack of affordable health care and insurance, health literacy deficits and limited access to healthy food – can be overcome through concerted efforts and prioritization.

Snell complements Morgan’s community-focused approach with her expertise in patient care. As the clinical director for HMHSC, Snell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as an advanced practice registered nurse. Her dedication to providing quality health care services to underserved populations is evident in her leadership role within the organization.


Together, Morgan and Snell have organized a series of rural health clinics, offering a comprehensive range of screenings and vaccinations to residents. From offering blood pressure and glucose screenings to mammography and mental health assessments, these clinics serve as vital resources for communities with limited access to health care facilities.

In addition to screenings, Morgan leverages her extensive network of community partners to address the social determinants of health. By collaborating with local organizations, HMHSC connects residents with essential resources and tools, bridging the gap between health care services and community support systems.

With two successful events already under their belts, the pair are poised to extend their reach even further. Three more clinics in Orangeburg, Bowman and Saint Matthews are planned before summer. Their tireless efforts are not only improving access to health care but also empowering communities to take charge of their well-being.

Morgan’s commitment to serving her community extends beyond her professional endeavors. As a mother of two boys and the program manager for Tri-County Health Network, she exemplifies the values of compassion and advocacy. Through her work, she hopes to inspire not only her children but also those around her to engage actively in community service and promote wellness.

In contrast, Snell brings a wealth of clinical experience to her role as the clinical director for HMHSC. With 12 years in health care, her journey began as a registered nurse in critical care settings, including the Emergency Department, trauma and intensive care. Having transitioned to a nurse practitioner role in the ED five years ago, her unwavering dedication to serving others in her native Orangeburg and neighboring communities has been the driving force behind her work.

Beyond her professional commitments, Snell finds joy in music, particularly as Beyonce’s self-proclaimed No. 1 fan. She also cherishes moments spent traveling and bonding with her family, including her loving husband, rambunctious son and spoiled Shih Tzu.

Reflecting on her work with HMHSC, Snell acknowledges the challenges posed by health care disparities but finds solace in the meaningful connections she forges with community members. “The most disheartening aspect of this project is considering the disparities that prevent people from receiving the care they deserve,” she shared.

“Thankfully, our work educating community members about their health care needs and building relationships is equally rewarding. I enjoy making people feel like they matter because they truly do. I hope my work inspires other health care team members to give back to their communities.”


Their colleagues agree that these dedicated women embody the spirit of empowerment and advocacy, driving positive change in rural health care. 

“LaShandra and Courtney are not only community health-minded but trusted members of the community they serve,” said Kapri Kreps Rhodes, director of Healthy Me, Healthy SC. “This work would not be possible without the relationships and trust they have built with all of the community partner organizations. As teammates and health equity advocates, they are hardworking, creative and thoughtful, and their efforts contribute to a bright future for HMHSC.”

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