Ted Rogalski considers himself to be in the relationship business. Maximizing outcomes and organizational effectiveness in rural communities with limited resources require a culture of connection, a culture that fosters strong relationships. Hear Ted’s thoughts on this and much more during our conversation with Ted Rogalski, Administrator of Genesis Medical Center in Aledo, IL.
“We must create a culture and work environment that is a draw for caregivers by developing relationships outside the organization.”
Edward J. (Ted) Rogalski is the Administrator for Genesis Medical Center, Aledo, a 22-bed critical access hospital located in Aledo, Illinois. Rogalski completed his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration at St. Ambrose University and received his Master's degree in Health Care Administration from the University of Iowa. He is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.
During his 24 years with Genesis Health System, Rogalski has held a number of leadership positions. Over the past ten years, he has directed operations in Aledo, IL where he joined the organization under a management agreement with Mercer County Hospital (now Genesis Medical Center, Aledo). During his tenure, Rogalski led a $1.6 million dollar turn-around effort and successfully guided the organization through affiliation and ultimately acquisition.
On February 1, 2013, Mercer County Hospital, Medical Associates Clinic (a six provider RHC) and Mercer County Nursing Home (92 bed LTC) joined Genesis Health System. The Hospital immediately embarked on an extensive $12 million renovation plan. Prior to joining Genesis, Rogalski worked for Mercy Hospital, Iowa City, IA; Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis, MN; and started his healthcare career at St. Luke’s Hospital, Davenport, IA.
Rogalski currently serves as Chair-Elect for the Illinois Hospital Association Board of Trustees and Treasurer for the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network. He has also served as the Chair for the Small and Rural Hospital Committee of the Illinois Hospital Association and has been an active community volunteer and serves or has served on the boards of the American Hospital Association - Regional Policy Board, Vera French Mental Health Center, St. Ambrose University PA Program, Mercer County Better Together, Mercer County YMCA, St. Paul the Apostle School, Assumption High School Century Club, and Friendship Manor. Rogalski and his wife, Lisa, have five adult married children and one grandson.
Burnett Medical Center set some pretty high goals for wellness visits, complete physicals, annual wellness visits, and welcome-to-Medicare visits. They also initiated a tier management program to follow up with patients to make sure they are doing well. We’re talking about this and more with Tamra White, Burnett Medical Center’s Medical Practice Administrator and Compliance Officer.
“As much as we like to think we’re pretty good at what we do, there’s always room for improvement.”
Tamra White joined Burnett Medical Center in 2001. Burnett Medical Center is a 17-bed Critical Access Hospital, Rural Health Clinic, and 50-bed nursing home in Tamra’s hometown of Grantsburg, Wisconsin. Throughout that time, Tamra has held various positions including medical transcriptionist, medical staff coordinator, HIM Director, and Compliance Officer. During those years she assisted with two EMR implementations, revenue cycle improvement, and planning for a $15 million building project.
Since 2017 Tamra has served as the Medical Practice Administrator and Compliance Officer in addition to implementing an Emergency Preparedness program. In December 2018 Tamra was asked to co-lead the organization when the hospital’s CEO had an unexpected three-month medical leave.
Tamra is currently finishing her bachelor’s degree in healthcare management through Regent University. After that, she plans to obtain a master’s degree in healthcare administration. Tamra also holds a degree in health information management from Rasmussen College.
Tamra’s mission is to serve her community, friends, and family in humility and love while ensuring they have close-to-home access to high-quality healthcare. Her professional interests involve strategic planning, medical staff relations, compliance, and regulatory issues, and goal cycles and action plans. Tamra’s personal interests include spending time with her husband and two daughters, reading, church activities, and Bible study small groups.
Rural Medical Centers has clinics located in mountains where there is no internet or cell service, and in the middle of a tomato field. As you might imagine, they have a few challenges providing healthcare services. I invite you to listen to a very interesting conversation with Jessica Zimmerman and Alexis Andino who are both with Rural Medical Centers in East Tennessee.
“We have a clinic in the mountains where there is no cell or internet service, so the way we access and treat people there is different.”
Jessica Zimmerman is a native of Lima, OH, and is married to Javier. They have one son, Ethan. Jessica is currently transitioning from her role as Corporate Compliance Manager with Rural Medical Services, Inc. to a position working with Auxiliary Services offered through her organization which is a FQHC located in East Tennessee. Jessica is bilingual and uses that ability to not only help her fulfill duties at work but also as a volunteer English teacher for adults one night a week.
Alexis Andino is originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Central America. He is married to Edith, and they have 3 married young adult children, who give them the joy of enjoying 6 grandchildren with one more on the way. Alexis is a bilingual Agricultural Engineer, with a diploma in Church-based community Facilitation, who worked for several years as a church-based community project facilitator for Christian Service Organizations in Honduras, Central America.
Alexis works as a Community Outreach and Transportation worker for Rural Medical Services, Inc.
Alice Hyde Medical Center and Champlain Valley Physicians Hospitals (CVPH) are both in upstate New York, and believe it or not, the closest major metropolitan area is in Montreal, Canada. Collaboration has been an important aspect of delivering quality care to the residents of that area. In our conversation with Michelle LeBeau, CEO of both facilities, Michelle shares her perspective on collaboration and more.
“Collaboration has been really important to understand what each county, each region needs, and how best to deliver care.”
With nearly thirty years in health care as a registered nurse and Human Resources executive, today, Michelle leads a dynamic group of health care professionals in Malone and Plattsburgh, New York. She understands the impact individuals bring to their organization when they are engaged and feel valued. She emphasizes the creative inspiration of individual thought processes and strives to ensure all voices are heard.
She believes in the power of a smile, the strength of positivity, and the idea that opportunity is made. Michelle embraces the power of change, thrives on ambiguity, and inspires others with her energy and enthusiasm. Her daily mission is to foster a culture that empowers those around her - ensuring that Alice Hyde Medical Center and CVPH offer a vibrant, engaging experience for its people and patients.
Michelle is an avid learner, holding degrees in nursing, business, and human resources. She believes that learning takes many forms and that each day presents the possibility for growth.
She is most proud of her five children and marvels at watching them grow into incredible people.
The mission of Doing Unto Others (DUO) is to reach people with the love of Christ by practically meeting physical and spiritual needs through providing health resources, service industries, and educational opportunities with the hope of equipping individuals and communities for living an abundant life. We’re talking about this and more with Samuel LaFave, Director of Mobile Missions at Life Church in Cookeville, TN.
“By the time they leave they really do feel like a new person.”
DUO Wellness is ready to encourage personal health and promote healthy lifestyles by offering wellness screenings and consultations with health professionals, all free of charge! Our team of physicians and health professionals is passionate about putting patients in control of their health by educating and building awareness.
DUO Hair is ready to serve your community by offering haircuts for all ages at no charge! Our Hair Bus is a salon on wheels and will make you feel right at home!
DUO Food is ready to bring meals to your community! Our trailer is fitted with a grill and refrigeration to make for a successful event. The trailer can be used to serve pre-made food or food can be prepared on the trailer!
DUO Outreach is ready to address the crowd with onboard audio and lighting. The stage truck is great for being the central hub of an event!
To learn more about this program, visit their website: DUO Mission (duomobilemission.com)
High-Reliability Organizations are organizations that achieve safety, quality, and efficiency goals. They succeed in avoiding catastrophes in an environment where normal accidents can be expected due to risk factors and complexity. This week’s guest on Rural Health Leadership Radio, Dr. Lesley Ogden, has set a goal for the two hospitals she oversees to become highly reliable organizations.
“You want to assure that every time someone is cared for at your facility, you have the same excellent outcomes every time.”
~Lesley Ogden, M.D.
Dr. Lesley Ogden serves as chief executive officer for the two Samaritan critical access hospitals in Lincoln County, located on the central Oregon coast. Before taking this top position, she served as chief operations officer at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital in Lincoln City and as interim CEO at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport, and also worked clinically as an emergency and urgent care physician.
Dr. Ogden is residency trained and board-certified in emergency medicine and has more than 10 years of clinical and leadership experience. She received her medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina and completed her emergency medicine residency at Oregon Health and Science University. In addition, Dr. Ogden received a master’s degree in business administration from The Citadel and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Troy State University.
A native of Florida, Dr. Ogden has made the rural Oregon coastal community her home since 2006. She is an active Rotarian in Lincoln City and served as club president in 2016-2017. She is also on the board of directors of the Economic Development Alliance of Lincoln County and the Oregon Coast Community College Foundation.
Under Dr. Ogden’s leadership, both hospitals were entirely transformed recently, with a new hospital building in Lincoln City and new and renovated buildings, and hospital campus in Newport. Both hospitals are part of Samaritan Health Services, a not-for-profit network of hospitals, clinics, and health services caring for more than 250,000 residents in the mid-Willamette Valley and central Oregon Coast.
COVID vaccination mandates are making an impact in multiple ways. When Lewis County Health System embraced the State of New York’s vaccination mandate, they ended up having resignations, causing them to temporarily suspend obstetrics service. The national news picked up the story, and the next thing you know, Jerry Cayer, CEO of Lewis County Health System, is talking with Lester Holt on the NBC Nightly News.
“One of the things that is important in rural health is that you have to be very transparent with your community.”
Jerry Cayer was born and raised in Maine, served in the United States Marine Corps, graduated from the University of Maine Farmington with a BS in Community Health Education and a minor in Education, and graduated from Boston University with a Master of Public Health Degree. After a number of years as a high school and college coach, he transitioned to officiating high school basketball and baseball games.
Jerry spent several years as the executive lead in the Health and Human Services Department for the City of Portland, Maine. From there he spent a decade as the Executive Vice President at Franklin Community Health Network and Franklin Memorial Hospital in western Maine. Over three years ago Jerry joined Lewis County Health System and Lewis County General Hospital in Lowville, New York (90 minutes northeast from Syracuse), as its Chief Executive Officer.
After working in various parts of the country, Erica Johnson-Lockett fulfilled her promise to the elders of her community and returned home. That “homegrown kid” is now the Chief Nursing Officer of Bolivar General Hospital in Bolivar, TN.
“I asked the team what they saw as some of the biggest challenges versus asking the leaders of the facility.”
Erica Johnson-Lockett began her nursing career in 2007 on a telemetry ward. Later, she transitioned to the ICU. During her career, she has been a Corrections Infirmary Nurse, Adjunct Clinical Nursing Instructor, Home Health Clinical Supervisor, Patient Safety-Risk Management Specialist, Patient Safety Manager & Acting Risk Manager. Currently, she is the CNO for the hospital in her home county.
Erica enjoys community service activities, mentoring adults and high school seniors. Lifelong learning is a passion and she has the ability to teach herself essential functions of career roles. Erica always shares what she has learned with others in addition to learning from them.
Collaboration, communication, listening, and flexibility are the key skills that make Erica an influential, innovative, and dynamic leader. She will never forget where she originated from or the struggles she has faced.
On this week’s episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking to a nurse trying to make a difference in the Appalachian region. Robyn Seamon has earned advanced degrees, studied, and conducted research to help prepare her to serve Appalachian residents.
“The Appalachian region has the highest number of every chronic disease we look at.”
Robyn is a Certified Transcultural Nurse who is passionate about seeing the health of people radically transformed in the Appalachian Region. Facilitating improvement in the high rates of health disparities in the Appalachian Region is her heartfelt desire. As a Registered Nurse for over 35 years, she has had many diverse experiences, including hospital nursing, home health and hospice, a startup clinic at a homeless shelter, and various volunteer experiences.
Robyn holds a Master of Arts degree in Appalachian Studies. She is the owner of Appalachian Healthcare Training & Consulting and regularly provides Appalachian-focused professional development workshops and consultation services.
On this week’s episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about the importance of community engagement. Jessica Fisher, CEO of Tri Valley Health System, shares what she and her leadership team have accomplished through community engagement, collaboration and the implementation of a few different change initiatives.
“The community is really what drives the additional services we need to offer.”
Jessica has a Master of Healthcare Administration from Bellevue University. She earned a Bachelor and Associates Degree from Fort Hays State University. Jessica also has a certification in Leadership, Human Resource Management and is a certified Phlebotomist through the American Society of Clinical Pathology. She comes to Tri Valley with a wealth of health care experience. Most recently she was the Director of Operations at Valley Hope Association, headquartered in her hometown of Norton, Kansas.
Valley Hope is an organization that provides residential and outpatient addiction treatment in seven states and 16 service locations. Prior to that Jessica was the Human Resources and Education Director at Cheyenne County Hospital in St. Francis, Kansas and was the Inpatient Clinical Services Manager at Hays Medical Center, in Hays, Kansas, while providing services to Pawnee Community Hospital in Larned, Kansas and St. Rose Medical Pavilion in Great Bend, Kansas. Jessica strongly believes in effective healthcare systems providing quality patient care with positive patient outcomes along with delivering cost-effective and affordable healthcare services.
This week’s episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio is a special episode to honor all our country’s veterans in honor of Veteran’s Day. Most VA hospitals are in metropolitan areas, making it difficult for veterans living in rural America to receive care there. With around half of our veterans living in rural America, that is just one of the challenges they face, access to care. This week we’re talking about that and more with the CEO of Coal County General Hospital, Trent Bourland. Trent served in the United States Air Force for 10 years and knows first-hand the challenges all rural residents face with it comes to access to care, particularly the challenges veterans are dealing with.
“Be patient with veterans as much as you can. A lot of them are frustrated because they don’t understand how the system works.”
Trent Bourland is the CEO of Coal County Healthcare Authority located in Coalgate, Ok., which operates a 20-bed critical access hospital, three rural health clinics, and a 75-bed long-term care facility. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force and has a master's degree in business from Southern Nazarene University.
If you’re not changing, not trying to look into the future, you’re not moving forward. When Josh Conlee became the CEO of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, he and his team looked at a variety of things: how they were doing, where the market was going, what they did well, and what they didn’t do very well. I hope you’ll listen in to our conversation.
“We are a proud community and we wanted to show people that we were moving forward in many ways.”
Josh Conlee earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Master of Business Administration from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. Additionally, he earned a Master of Health Services Administration from the University of Arkansas for Medical Science in Little Rock, Arkansas. Josh is currently the President of Lawrence Healthcare in Walnut Ridge, AR where his duties include the oversight of Lawrence Memorial Hospital and Lawrence Hall Health and Rehabilitation.
He previously held positions as the Administrative Director at UAMS North Central, Manager of Strategic Implementation, and Administrative Fellow at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Health Center. He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). He was the recipient of the 2019 ACHE Early Career Healthcare Executive Regent’s Award. Josh is married to his wife, Kailey, and they have two daughters, Stella and Avery.
The Rural Health Program is currently being launched in Tennessee, and it has a couple of different components. The first component is focused on the community by looking at ways to promote pharmacy practice in rural areas. The second component is focused on pharmacy students; exposing them to rural healthcare and engaging them in the delivery of quality healthcare in a rural setting. We are having that conversation with Tyler Melton, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Education & Rural Health, at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, College of Pharmacy.
“There are rural pharmacies anywhere you go in America and I think they’re underutilized.”
Tyler Melton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Translational Science at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), College of Pharmacy. He has nine years of pharmacy practice experience including inpatient and outpatient pharmacy in rural environments. Tyler joined UTHSC in September of 2020, after completing a postdoctoral research fellowship in Community Pharmacy Practice and Prescription Drug Abuse and earning his Master of Public Health from East Tennessee State University. His areas of research expertise include community pharmacy practice, rural health, health disparities, and prescription drug abuse.
Childhood trauma has an impact that lasts a lifetime. Trauma-focused treatment and trauma-informed care is critical, but oftentimes lacking in rural America. Southern Illinois is fortunate to be the home of the Stress and Trauma Treatment Center, where Dr. Matt Buckman and his team provide these services in multiple communities.
“This is the most important work that any of us can do.”
~Dr. Matt Buckman
Dr. Matt Buckman is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Executive Director of the Stress & Trauma Treatment Center. He also serves in various part-time leadership and consultative roles. Dr. Buckman is the PI of the Southern Illinois Resiliency Project at the Center. He is the Co-PI of the IL HEALS (Helping Everyone Access Linked Systems) Demonstration Site Project and Early Childhood System of Care Project under Egyptian Health Department, the Bullying Prevention/Trauma Responsive Schools initiative and the Trauma Based Behavioral Health Fellowship at the Center for Rural Health & Social Services Development within SIU’s School of Medicine, and the Southern Illinois Violence Prevention Project at the Illinois Association of Juvenile Justice Councils.
Throughout his roles, Dr. Buckman provides supervision, consultation, and training as well as direct services to children, teens, young adults, and families to help improve a variety of emotional and behavioral health issues. He has worked in various schools, medical, and clinical settings with a specialization in childhood trauma and certifications in Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Managing & Adapting Practices, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, and Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics. He has extensive experience working with victims of abuse and their families as they recover and heal from significant adversities and considers his work in this area to be his calling in life.
Click here to learn more about the Stress & Trauma Treatment Center.
We may not like to talk about it, but sexual assaults happen in rural America, and something needs to be done. In Tennessee, they are doing something! By way of a grant, an initiative is underway to provide funding for education, training, certification, and retention of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). SANE programs are designed to train nurses to address survivors' needs and provide trauma-informed care.
The 21 counties of West Tennessee have only five certified SANE nurses, four of whom practice in Shelby County. But the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation received nearly 1,600 reports of sexual assault in West Tennessee in 2019, indicating a significant shortage of nurses certified to meet the need for this care.
“The grant was awarded to increase the supply of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners in West Tennessee.”
~Linda Beasley, DNP, APRN, NP-C, RN
Lisa Beasley joined the UTHSC CON faculty in September 2020. Prior to joining UT, Lisa was previously at the University of Memphis Loewenberg College of Nursing for 10 years, serving as a Clinical Associate Professor and the Director of Clinical Education for the last 6 years of her time there. Lisa’s practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner has been in hospice and palliative care for the last 9 years serving patients in rural and underserved communities. Prior to becoming a nurse, Lisa enjoyed an 18-year career in the radio industry.
Click here to learn more about this program.
A little over 5 years ago, Hanover Hospital was on the brink of closing its doors. Turning things around was going to be a difficult and challenging journey but knowing how much the hospital meant to the community, a dedicated team of rural health workers turned things around.
“We were hanging on by a thread, just trying to figure out how to make payroll and keep the doors open.”
~Brittni Oehmke, CEO
Brittni is the Administrator at Hanover Hospital, located in Hanover, KS, where she has been for 5 years. She is also a Medical Laboratory Scientist and the current Lab Manager. Brittni has three beautiful children: Kaylee, Dalton and Cole. Her family loves animals, being outdoors and playing sports. Brittni also coaches high school girls’ basketball and is a Kentucky basketball fanatic.
Access to care in rural America is a recurring theme, particularly when it comes to cancer care. Transportation is one of the top challenges rural cancer patients must overcome to receive the treatment they need. But there are people trying to do something about that. One of those persons is Dr. Whitney Zahnd, and that’s one of the things we’re talking about in this week’s episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio.
“The best way to reduce cancer disparities and improve cancer rates is to prevent cancer or to find it earlier.”
~Whitney Zahnd, Ph.D.
Whitney Zahnd, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy in the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa. Her research employs health services research, social epidemiological, and spatial methods to address rural cancer disparities across the continuum and to evaluate access to health care services. Dr. Zahnd is a 2021 National Rural Health Association Rural Health Fellow and a board member with the Iowa Rural Health Association.
She is a full member of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center and a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN). Before joining the University of Iowa faculty, Dr. Zahnd completed post-doctoral training and served as research faculty at the Rural & Minority Health Research Center at the University of South Carolina. Prior to earning her doctorate in community health from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2018, she worked for eleven years as a master’s trained researcher at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine supporting rural health and cancer disparities research.
Would you like to become a more effective leader if it only took you 5 minutes a day? If that sounds like a winning idea to you, you need to listen to our conversation with Jo Anne Preston, author of Lead the Way in 5 Minutes a Day: Sparking High Performance in Yourself and Your Team.
“Healthcare workers have really been gutted because there has been so much stress, so much pressure.”
~Jo Anne Preston
Jo Anne Preston is the Workforce and Organizational Development Sr. Mgr. at the Rural WI Health Cooperative, where she brings over four decades of her healthcare leadership experience to designing and delivering leadership and employee education for rural healthcare throughout WI and the U.S. She has an M.S. in Educational Psychology/Community Counseling from Eastern Illinois University and is the author of Lead the Way in Five Minutes a Day: Sparking High Performance in Yourself and Your Team. She also writes a monthly leadership blog. Click here to order your copy of Lead the Way in Five Minutes a Day: Sparking High Performance in Yourself and Your Team.
Humble people doing great things is always inspirational. Prepare yourself to be inspired today by listening to our conversation with Walter Panzirer, Trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust. Having lived and worked in rural America, Walter immediately knew where he could make a difference and improve lives when he found out he had been named as a Trustee.
“We were given a blank slate to see how we can improve lives around the world.”
Walter Panzirer, is a grandson of Leona Helmsley. Raised in California, he adopted South Dakota as his home. Having worked as a first responder in both states, Walter witnessed personally the significant disparities in quality health care available close to home – disparities that demanded attention. Serving as a paramedic, firefighter, and police officer also made him acutely aware of the range of situations encountered by these professionals – from cardiac and stroke events, to individuals facing a mental health crisis.
Upon the death of his grandmother, Walter was to his great surprise named a Trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust. He realized the opportunity for investing in better healthcare for Americans in rural communities as well as for supporting communities across rural Africa to build resilience. A passionate advocate for telehealth, Walter is committed to shortening the distance between a medical emergency and life-saving treatment, including outfitting first responders with modern equipment for managing emergencies. His curiosity, coupled with a get-it-done acumen, means that he’s always looking for healthcare leapfrog opportunities that can be readily implemented.
Walter studied business and history at Black Hills State University, and pursued pastoral studies at MidAmerica Nazarene University. An inductee to American Telehealth Association’s College of Fellows as well the South Dakota Hall of Fame, Walter has served on a number of nonprofit and educational boards. He, his wife, and their family own and operate a hunting lodge in rural South Dakota.
This week we’re talking about the quality of care in rural America, antibiotic stewardship, taking care of cancer patients and rural hospital turnarounds. We’re having that conversation with Bob Milvet, CEO of Grant Memorial Hospital in Petersburg, West Virginia.
“What started out as a difficult conversation turned into a very meaningful discussion and dialog.”
Bob Milvet is the Chief Executive Officer at Grant Memorial Hospital in Petersburg, West Virginia. He has served in multiple, progressive leadership capacities since 1999 in the areas of Academic Medicine, Community Acute Care Hospitals, Physician Group Practices and Critical Access Hospitals. He is most passionate about rural medicine, and has led financial turnarounds, a new hospital construction project and merger transactions. In his new role as CEO, he is leading the development of a Cancer Center and multiple other renovation projects to greatly improve access to care in his 5-county service area.
Once again I ask, where will our future rural health leaders come from? And once again we have found one future rural health leader, this time in the state of New York. Her name is Emma Dening, and Emma is this year’s recipient of the Rural Health Leadership Radio Juanita Bartholomew Scholarship. The Juanita Bartholomew Scholarship was established to assist high school graduates who want to continue their education in a healthcare field with the goal of working in Rural America.
“Leadership is having the courage to speak against the most common opinion.”
Growing up in a county with more cows than people, Emma saw the epidemic facing rural youth, especially the population of young girls. Not COVID, rather losing confidence in themselves because of the expectations of their surroundings, many youth in her area surrendered their potential to the opinions of those around them.
Throughout high school, Emma captained her Varsity Basketball and Softball teams, lead her Cleats for Athletes program that provided in-need student-athletes with free sports equipment, co-coached several youth girls basketball teams, began a tutoring program and started a program connecting young athletes to their varsity teams, in hopes of inspiring the youth to take control of their own futures and be their own greatest activists.
This fall, she will be entering Le Moyne College’s 5-year Physician Assistant program, granting her a Master’s in Biology and her PA license. Initially, Emma committed to St. Lawrence University to further her basketball career with the intent of entering medical school before deciding a career as a PA better suited her desired lifestyle.
Where will our future rural health leaders come from? We have found one future rural health leader in Louisiana and we’re having a conversation with her. Her name is Ellyn Kate Boothe, and Ellyn Kate is the recipient of the Rural Health Leadership Radio Earl Bartholomew Scholarship. The Earl Bartholomew Scholarship was established to assist high school graduates who want to continue their education in a healthcare field with the goal of working in Rural America.
“My definition of leadership would be to carry yourself with grace and determination.”
~Elynn Kate Boothe
Elynn Kate Boothe is a recent graduate of Minden High School in Minden, Louisiana. She is an active member of her youth group at First Baptist Minden where she loves to fellowship and serve others in her community. In her free time, you can find her with a book, hanging out with family and friends, and online shopping. She is excited to be starting a new chapter in her life by attending Northwestern State University in the fall to pursue a degree in nursing.
How do you create a healthier rural community? Collaboration is certainly a key ingredient to making that happen, but how do you go about that? Dr. Sameer Vohra and his team of collaborators are trying to make a difference in rural Southern Illinois with the ‘Building a Healthier Rural Illinois’ initiative.
“People in rural areas were more likely before the pandemic to die from the five leading causes of death in America.”
~Dr. Sameer Vohra
Dr. Vohra was born and raised in Chicago and received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Northwestern University. He then went on to receive a dual degree from Southern Illinois University’s Medicine and Law Dual Degree Program, as well as traveling to India on a United States Department of State Fulbright Scholarship.
He has a passion for improving people’s health as well as the one-on-one connection that comes with being a physician, fueled by his desire to understand how he could work to improve society’s health. Dr. Vohra would go on to attend the University of Chicago where he was the first to follow the pediatric public policy track, where he trained as a general pediatrician and received advanced public policy training.
Dr. Sameer Vohra settled back into Southern Illinois University and began his journey into population health and science, taking steps to make a concrete difference in the communities he served. He was able to lead the creation of the Office of Population Science and Policy to determine if there would be support, funding, and interest in the community to launch the office as an academic department. The Department of Population Science and Policy was officially launched in July 2018, and is only one of 25 such departments in the country.
Oftentimes we feel like we cannot make a difference. We say to ourselves, “I’m only one voice. How can I make a difference? I work at a little hospital in the middle of nowhere, who’s going to listen to me” I’ve heard numerous rural health leaders say that or something similar. Yet I know firsthand that one voice can make a big difference.
“Small things make a big difference.”
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, explains how trends in behavior, marketing, or business have a ‘magic moment’ when they rapidly spread like an epidemic. He calls this moment the ‘tipping point.’ I thought it was appropriate to revisit this book with its epidemic analogy and the idea that little things can make a big impact.
Rural Health Leadership Radio was created to share rural health leadership best practices at no cost. Each week, we have a different rural health leader as a guest sharing what works, what they have tried that didn’t work, and the unique approaches they are implementing.
Thank you for listening!
This week on Rural Health Leadership Radio we are having a conversation with Dr. Hannah Wenger, a clinical care specialist on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, and faculty member at Massachusetts General Hospital. Hannah is a physician who is passionate about providing culturally relevant care to the residents of the community she serves.
“What does allopathic medicine have to do with a traditional ceremony like a sweat lodge? I would argue it has a lot to do with it”
~ Hannah Wenger M.D.
Hannah Wenger, MD, is a general internist and faculty member at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) having just completed MGH’s Fellowship Program in Rural Health Leadership. She obtained her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Notre Dame and her medical degree at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She then completed an internal medicine residency and a clinical medical ethics fellowship at the University of Chicago. As a rural health fellow at MGH, Dr. Wenger currently provides clinical care to the Sicangu Lakota Oyate on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Her interests include Two Spirit and LGBTQ health, hepatitis C, and clinical ethics.