Rural Health Leadership Radio™

Over the last ten years, over 100 rural hospitals have closed their doors. Roughly one in three rural hospitals have been identified as “at risk.” If there was ever a need for strong leadership, that time is now. RHLR’s mission is to provide a forum to have conversations with rural health leaders to discuss and share ideas about what is working, what is not working, lessons learned, success stories, strategies, things to avoid and anything else you want to talk and hear about. RHLR provides a voice for rural health. The only investment is your time, and our goal is to make sure you receive a huge return on your investment. For more information, visit or e-mail
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Rural Health Leadership Radio™




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Now displaying: 2019
Mar 19, 2019

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio™ we are talking about staffing a Critical Access Hospital with Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners.  We’re having that conversation with Mark Zellmer, Ph.D., PA.-C, who has been a PA since 1983 graduating from the University Iowa PA Program.

“Having physicians is important and wonderful and necessary in rural communities, but there may need to be more than just physicians.”

Mark became a PA after serving as a volunteer EMT while teaching high school chemistry and biology in a rural Iowa community that previously had no ambulance service.  Mark subsequently becoming a paramedic.

Mark’s PA career has included practice in an Iowa county without a hospital or a stoplight, and in Minnesota in both primary care in Red Wing and later, a tertiary care practice at Mayo Clinic, Rochester.

As a PA educator, Mark was the founding director of rural oriented PA programs at the University of South Dakota and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Health, Epidemiology emphasis.

His current practice is as the lead hospitalist and an emergency room provider at a rural, Critical Access Hospital, Gundersen Tri-County, in Whitehall, WI.

Mar 12, 2019

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio™ we are talking about several different aspects of rural healthcare with Farrell Turner, President of the Alabama Rural Health Association.  Farrell had the experience of a lifetime when he attended the State of the Union Address this year while he was in Washington, DC, at the NRHA Policy Institute meeting.   

 “There needs to be a sense of urgency because we can’t just sit back on our thumbs to make incremental changes.” 

 Farrell began his career with St. Luke’s Episcopal and Texas Children’s Hospitals in Houston.  After that, he was CFO at South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel, Mississippi and has served as interim CEO and CFO in a number of small rural hospitals in the South. He most recently served as CEO of Community Hospital Corp’s Jellico Community Hospital in Tennessee and Interim CEO of Medical Center Barbour in Eufaula, Alabama for Alliant Healthcare Management. He is a subject matter expert in Rural Health Clinics, especially provider-based RHCs. 

He was educated in Alabama public schools, received a Bachelor’s degree at University of Alabama College of Commerce and Business Administration in Accounting and Health Care Management, and a Master’s in Finance at the University of Houston at Clear Lake. He is a CPA, a certified coder, and a Fellow with HFMA. He is President of the Alabama Rural Health Association and has been chapter President of the Anniston- Gadsden and Oxford Chapters of the American Academy of Professional Coders. 

He enjoys hunting and has taken up running. He completed his first half-marathon on his 60th birthday and did it again on his next birthday. He lives in rural Cleburne County with his wife Beverly. 

During our conversation, Farrell talks about an excellent tool for rural health leaders, the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.  Hopefully you will find this a useful tool as well. 

Mar 5, 2019

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio™ we are talking about the relationship of healthcare and agriculture with a special focus on mental health with today’s guest, Charlotte Halverson. Charlotte serves as the Clinical Director for AgriSafe.  

“Suicide is about the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and that’s just tragic.” 

Prior to this role, she worked for several years in hospital acute care settings and community education.  During those years, Charlotte developed and managed a Rural Outreach Health service and a Parish Health Ministry department serving nine counties in northeast Iowa.   

“Our rural counties consistently appear to have higher suicide rates than metropolitan areas.” 

A charter graduate of the University of Iowa agricultural occupational medicine course, she served as the agricultural occupational health services manager for the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety. Her primary role with AgriSafe involves development and dissemination of educational programs for health care professionals, agricultural businesses, and educators. 

Feb 26, 2019

Mike Shimmens has over 20 years of experience in the recruitment of health care professionals through various organizations and roles.  He has served as the Executive Director of 3RNet (National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network) since 2012.  In this role he works with a nine-member Board of Directors and a staff of three to assist 54 non-profit and governmental member organizations in the recruitment and retention of quality health care professionals in rural and underserved areas of our country.   

“3RNet is a shortened title because our full name is National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network and rural is obviously right there on the title.” 

3RNet has over 20 years of experience in providing a quality, interactive job board and educational services to safety net facilities.   

Prior to coming to this position, he worked for 6 years at the Missouri Primary Care Association as Director of Recruitment and Workforce Development.  There he assisted 21 Community Health Centers and other Missouri hospitals and clinics in their health professional recruitment efforts through the Missouri Health Professional Placement Service. He also served as the Organizational Member of 3RNet for Missouri and was on its Board of Directors for 2 years before taking the role of Executive Director. 

Mike’s first recruitment position in health care was as Director of Medical Staff Development at St. Mary's Health Center in Jefferson City, MO. He served in this role for 9 years and recruited for all physician specialties and advanced practice nurses at this 167-bed hospital and affiliated clinics.  Additionally, he helped create medical staff plans for the organization and served as a liaison to a large, multispecialty clinic in the community.  He has maintained membership in ASPR (Association of Staff Physician Recruiters) continuously since 1997. 

Feb 19, 2019

Barry Mathis is Principal – IT and Advisory Services at PYA.  Barry has nearly three decades of experience in the information technology (IT) and healthcare industries as a CIO, CTO, senior IT audit manager, and IT risk management consultant.  He has performed and managed complicated HIPAA security reviews and audits for some of the most sophisticated hospital systems in the country.   

“The resources in a rural health situation are obviously at times challenged so your solutions have to be sharp.” 

Barry is a visionary, creative, results-oriented senior-level healthcare executive with demonstrated experience in planning, developing, and implementing complex information-technology solutions to address business opportunities, while reducing IT risk and exposure.  He is adept at project and crisis management, troubleshooting, problem solving, and negotiating.   

Barry has strong technical capabilities combined with outstanding presentation skills and professional pride.  He is a prudent risk taker with proficiency in IT risk management, physician relations, strategic development, and employee team building. 

Barry is a member of United States Marine Corps, Health Care Compliance Association, Association of Healthcare Internal Auditors, Healthcare Information Management Systems Society and Information Systems Audit and Control Association. He was an Honor Graduate in Systems Programming from the United States Marine Corps Computer Sciences School (MCCDC) in Quantico, VA. He is a Certified COBOL Programmer, a Certified Database Management Specialist, and a Certified Cyber Security Framework Practitioner. 

Barry L. Mathis 
Principal – Information Technology & Advisory Services 
(800) 270-9629   | 

Feb 12, 2019

Dan Neenan, MBA, joined the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) staff in August of 2002 as Director. Dan is a Paramedic Specialist, Firefighter II and EMS instructor. He currently chairs the Iowa Community College Fire Coordinators and is a member of the Iowa Propane board, Vice Chair of the Dubuque County Emergency Management Commission, and Treasurer of the Dubuque County EMS. 

“Agriculture is the most dangerous industry in the United States.” 

In his work at NECAS Dan has developed several OSHA approved training programs as well as Agricultural rescue programs. Safety programs include viticulture safety, enology safety, confined space-grain bin entry, Prevention of grain storage fire and explosions, chemical safety, confined space-manure pit entry. Rescue programs include tractor rollover, combine auger rescue, grain bin rescue, manure pit rescue, anhydrous ammonia emergency response. 

The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) is a partnership in safety and health between the National Safety Council and Northeast Iowa Community College formed in 1997. Located on 12 acres in Peosta Iowa, NECAS provides safety training for Farmers, ranchers, agribusiness personnel and well as Ag rescue programs for Fire, EMS, and Law enforcement personnel. 

To learn more about Grain Bin Safety Week click HERE. 

Feb 5, 2019

In this episode on Rural Health Leadership Radio™ we are talking with Nick Brady, HIV Care Connect Associate and Trauma-Free Illinois Coordinator, along with Michael Maginn, HIV Program Manager and Prevention Lead Agent, both who are with the Illinois Public Health Association. 

“Collaboration is the key to being successful.” 

Michael Maginn began working in the HIV field in 2004 as the Executive Director for a community-based organization providing supportive services to people living with HIV. Ten years after he began working at FRIENDS, where he transitioned to a position with the Illinois Public health Association (IPHA), the oldest and largest public health association in the state, as their HIV Program Manager, Coordinator of the Illinois HIV Care Connect initiative and Illinois Prevention Lead Agent for Regions 1, 3, and 5. There are 98 affiliate organizations of IPHA, including local health departments, colleges and universities, and various public health organizations.  

Michael’s role as Prevention Lead Agent also brings him into contact with multiple public health programs that he oversees, including 1) HIV targeted testing, 2) CDC behavioral interventions, 3) targeted gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and hepatitis C testing, 4) hepatitis A and B vaccinations, 5) surveillance-based services, and 6) routine testing data collection.  

At the same time, he has also worn different hats in the HIV/AIDS community. He has been a Client Representative for the Ryan White Part B consortium. He is also a current member of the Illinois ADAP Medical Issues Advisory Board, Getting to Zero Campaign, Illinois PrEP Working Group, the Chicago Area HIV Integrated Services Council, the CDC/MMP Advisory Board member, and the Illinois HIV Integrated Planning Council, where he is the co-chair of the Epidemiology and Needs Assessment Committee  

Michael’s focus has always been to give back to his community and to give those in the community a voice and representation on a state and national level. In all of those regards, it is safe to say that he has succeeded. 

Nick Brady is a self-proclaimed strategic planning “guru” who has supported several initiatives on a local, regional, and state level in Illinois. He has worked with the Illinois Department of Public Health to revise the State Strategic Plan to Prevent Injury, Violence, and Suicide; participates in local and regional faith-based initiatives; served as the president of the Menard County Partnership for Safety and Wellness which has a focus area in substance abuse prevention; volunteers on the Illinois Diabetes Action Plan Group; and works as an HIV Care Connect Associate and the coordinator of the Trauma-Free Illinois Initiative at the Illinois Public Health Association .  

“Rural organizations are faced with some particular challenges such as having the resources…” 

When Nick is not working, he enjoys volunteering at his church, working at his family’s pizzeria, singing, riding roller coasters, and spending time with his family and friends.  

Jan 29, 2019

Dr. Deepak Pahuja is the Chief Medical Officer of Aerolib Healthcare Solutions LLC. He is Board certified in Internal Medicine and has an MBA in Healthcare Management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst-Isenberg School of Management. Dr Pahuja specializes in innovations in healthcare and serves as the Founder of the Empowering Physician Advisor Show.  

“Small and rural hospitals are subject to the same level of regulations as big academic centers.” 

Dr Pahuja is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Fellow of the Society of Hospital Medicine and member of the Audit and Risk Committee of the American Association for Physician Leadership. 

His company, Aerolib Healthcare Solutions, is a physician-owned physician-led consulting firm providing Physician Advisor Gap Coverage for hospitals, Clinical and Regulatory Education for providers, Healthcare Analytics and Artificial Intelligence for healthcare organizations. 

Jan 22, 2019

Phil Polakoff, M.D., M.P.H., M.Env.Sc. is the Founder and CEO of A Healthier We. He is a consulting professor at Stanford University School of Medicine and an affiliated scholar at Stanford University Bill Lane Center for the American West.

He has been in the healthcare industry for forty-five years and has a wide range of experience in clinical services, product innovation, network development, care management, organizational and business enhancement, policy formulation, communications and financing.

“Our current system with health and healthcare delivery is fragmented. We’re inefficient, ineffective, and it’s costly. “

In his first years of practice he was short listed as US Surgeon General. He has experience working with various industries as well which includes being a Senior Managing Director for publicly traded consulting firms, advisor to numerous payers, providers, investors, employers, labor organizations and public entities. He was the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Total Health Advocacy Partners (Thap!).

Dr. Polakoff holds degrees in Medicine/Healthcare Policy Study from Oxford University, an M.P.H in Epidemiology from UC Berkeley, a Medical Degree from Wayne State University, an M.S. in Environmental Sciences from The State University of New Jersey, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Cornell University.

He has published five books, over two hundred articles, and has written a weekly nationally syndicated health column.

“Leadership is both a skill set as well as a personality set to motivate yourself and others to accomplish a purpose that has both a return on investment as well as hopefully, socially meaningful results.”

A humble and effective leader, Dr. Polakoff has produced numerous health-related media productions including videos being aired as “Phil Polakoff MD - Thrive Global.”

Dr. Polakoff has faculty appointments at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and UC Irvine.

Click here to learn more about the Healthier Rural West summit.

Jan 15, 2019

Lori Zindl is the President of efficientC, a comprehensive, software-as-a-service (SaaS) that provides healthcare organizations a single solution with unmatched performance.   

“Beside your physical building, account receivables are your largest asset.” 

Lori began her revenue cycle career in 1985 as a medical bill collector. She was amazed at the amount of bad debt sent to collection agencies which were still owed by third-party payers. She wondered why healthcare providers couldn't get paid by the insurance themselves, a question that ultimately led her to a revenue cycle consulting role.  

In 1993, Lori founded her first company OS inc., to support revenue cycle services at hospital’s struggling with their collections.  Never one to shy away from innovation, in the late 2000s she spearheaded the development of efficientC – a state-of-the-art claim processing and denial management software used by her own staff and rural hospitals across the country.   

When Lori isn’t busy managing the day-to-day operations at efficientC and OS inc., she enjoys spending time on the speaking circuit educating healthcare leaders on revenue cycle best practices.  

Jan 8, 2019

Diane Calmus is Regulatory Counsel for the National Rural Health Association (NRHA).  Diane joined the NRHA staff in 2015. She is one of NRHA’s federally registered lobbyists.

“We really saw the voice of rural Americans saying how important healthcare is to them.”

She previously worked as a legislative assistant to Rep. Kevin Brady, the chair of Ways and Means, where she handled a variety of health care issues with a focus on Medicare policy. She also worked as a health policy fellow at the Heritage Foundation. 

Diane earned a J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law and bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Lake Superior State University and psychology from Central Michigan University.

Diane will be part of the NRHA Rural Health Policy Institute February 5-7 in Washington, DC.  Act by January 11 to take advantage of discounted registration. You can register by clicking HERE.

Jan 1, 2019

Lauren S. Hughes, MD, MPH, MSc, FAAFP, is a practicing family physician and Deputy Secretary for Health Innovation in the Pennsylvania Department of Health. In this role, she creates and leads statewide strategies to improve health and health care delivery for all Pennsylvanians, with a focus on initiatives combatting the opioid and heroin epidemic and transforming rural health care delivery.

“The Pennsylvania Rural Health Model is designed to provide greater financial stability and predictability for rural hospitals.”

Prior to joining the Department, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Michigan where she studied health services research.

“(The Pennsylvania Rural Health Model) also provides rural hospitals with a volume to value pathway to transform how to deliver care to better meet the community’s health needs.”

She holds degrees in zoology and Spanish from Iowa State University, an MPH in health policy from The George Washington University, and a medical degree from the University of Iowa.

Dr. Hughes served as the national president of the American Medical Student Association for one year prior to completing her residency at the University of Washington in Seattle.

She has volunteered through AmeriCorps in a federally qualified health center, worked for Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, and studied medicine and health systems in Brazil, Sweden, Tanzania, and Botswana. Dr. Hughes has also been a visiting scholar at the Robert Graham Center, ABC News Medical Unit in New York City, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, and The Commonwealth Fund.

In 2015, she was named a regional finalist in the White House Fellows program, and in 2016, a recipient of the Women Leaders in Medicine Award from the American Medical Student Association and the Early Career Achievement Award from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. In 2017, she was elected to a five-year term on the American Board of Family Medicine Board of Directors, and in 2018, as a Presidential Leadership Scholar.