This week we’re having a conversation with John Gale, M.S., Senior Research Associate with the Maine Rural Health Research Center at the University of Southern Maine. John has conducted extensive research on rural substance use and behavioral health services, the role of hospitals in addressing population and community health issues, and the development of substance use treatment, prevention, and recovery programs.
“Our communities are the solution to many of the problems we’re struggling with.”
John serves on the Boards of Trustees for the National Rural Health Association and New England Rural Health Roundtable. He is a Senior Fellow of the Health Research and Educational Trust of the American Hospital Association and recently developed a rural substance use prevention and treatment toolkit for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime that is distributed internationally.
His work focuses on leveraging local health and community resources to improve the functioning of the rural healthcare infrastructure.
Prior to joining the Maine Rural Health Research Center, John managed large primary care and multi-disciplinary behavioral health group practices.
This week we’re having a conversation with Maggie Elehwany, JD, Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy with the National Rural Health Association. Maggie joined the NRHA staff in 2007 as the head lobbyist for the association and is responsible for the Government Affairs and Policy department.
As Senator Chuck Schumer said at a recent meeting, “If we’ve learned nothing from the last election [meaning the election of Donald Trump] it’s that we can’t listen enough to rural America.”
Maggie has over 20 years of federal legislative experience. She previously served as health counsel to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and to U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, where she worked on comprehensive Medicare and Medicaid legislation. Maggie also served as counsel to former U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bob Packwood. From 1999 to 2005, she served as assistant director of congressional affairs for the American Medical Association, where she advocated on patient and physician issues.
Maggie grew up in a small town in Oregon, Cottage Grove, which has a small hospital. Growing up in Oregon, where many parts of the state are still rural, even frontier, provided Maggie with an appreciation of the challenges rural health leaders face. When she started working in healthcare for different senators, she had the opportunity to work for two different senators from the state of Alaska. That experience provided an even greater appreciation for the issues rural health providers face. When you layer the complications of being in rural and/or frontier America, and on top of that, consider the vastness of a state like Alaska, simply getting to a healthcare center is a challenge. In Alaska, quite often, the only way one can access healthcare is by air or boat. This helps one realize how just accessing care is so tremendously important and really is the lifeline to communities.
Maggie earned a J.D. from the University of Oregon and a B.A. from Oregon State University.
Marty Fattig is the CEO of Nemaha County Hospital in Auburn, Nebraska. Marty has been involved in healthcare for over 35 years. He began his career as a bench Medical Technologist and expanded his technical skills to include radiology and electrocardiology. Later on, he entered the field of healthcare administration and has served in various capacities including Laboratory Manager, Director of Ancillary Services and hospital CEO. He has also served as a laboratory consultant and computer systems manager for a regional reference laboratory.
“We want to be held to a higher standard.”
Marty is Co-chairman of the Nebraska eHealth Council, Vice President of the Region 2 Trauma Advisory Board, Chair-Elect of the Nebraska Hospital Association, serves on the executive board of the Mid-America Hospital Alliance and is the Chairman of the Rural Health Advisory Commission. He is a member of the Critical Access Hospital Advisory Council, and the Critical Access Hospital Advisory Board on Quality. He also serves as a member of the HIT Policy Committee Meaningful Use Workgroup, being appointed by the Office of the National Coordinator. He was recently accepted as a Health IT Fellow with the ONC and a Fellow with the Rural Futures Institute.
Mary holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology and a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration.
This week we’re having a conversation with Bill Sexton, the Chief Executive Officer at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Bill is a board-certified Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and has a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Southern Illinois University. In 2006 he served as president of the National Rural Health Association and continues to serve as the chair of its subsidiary, Services Corporation. Bill is also a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel.
“We proposed a plan for the Rural Hospital Flexibility Act and took it to Capitol Hill.”
Growing up, Bill never spent more than 4 years in any one location. The one constant for Bill was the small rural community in Central Illinois where his grandparents lived. Most of Bill’s relatives lived in small communities and he liked the fact that everyone knew each other and talked about who lived in that house rather than the address. When his father retired, his family moved to a rural community and lived across the road from a farm. His first year of college, Bill lived in an agricultural fraternity because it was student housing. Living there he made some really good friends and developed a strong respect and admiration for the farmers which he still holds today.
The son of an Air Force officer, Bill entered the Air Force after college and started his military life as a radio relay repairman, working in microwave communications. Since he had a Bachelor’s Degree, he enrolled in a weekend Master’s program along with a colleague who was a Medical Service Corp officer. He encouraged Bill to apply to do the same and he did.
Upon retiring from the military, Bill started all over again as the CEO of a small rural hospital in Wisconsin. At the time, the hospital was struggling for survival and its future was uncertain. After converting the hospital to a critical access hospital and building a rural health clinic, Bill left for the north coast of Oregon with another just converted critical access hospital.
With his family is in the Midwest, when a chance came to move back, Bill took it and has been in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin ever since. There Bill oversaw the construction of a replacement facility and one of the highlights of his life was having his 100-year-old mother there for the dedication ceremony.
This week we’re having a conversation with Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild, Associate Executive Director and Chief Futurist at the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska.
A researcher, entrepreneur and high-touch futurist, Dr. Connie, helps leaders and organizations reach their desired futures through strengths-based innovation and strategic foresight. She proudly serves as the Associate Executive Director and Chief Futurist for the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska and is also the founder of Wild Innovation, a consulting and coaching firm serving organizations from both the private and public sectors. Clients range from rural hospitals in Nebraska to remote villages in Nigeria and include a small business with a $22 million annual footprint, as well as global organizations like Lockheed Martin.
“Leadership is when a person leads their own life while bringing out the best in others and making a positive contribution to the future.”
Connie grew up in West Point, NE, with a population of about 3,000 people. While growing up, 8 of those 3,000 were immediate family members! Connie is a first-generation college student made possible through great mentoring. She has been married to an amazing man for 18 years, and they have two awesome kids and two crazy miniature wiener dogs! They enjoy living in a relaxing, rural community.