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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 www.rhlradio.com or e-mail bill@billauxier.com.
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Now displaying: 2023
Dec 26, 2023

As 2023 comes to a close, Co-Hosts Bill Auxier, PhD, and Sydney Grant, MHA are reflecting on this exciting year with the ever-growing community at Rural Health Leadership Radio.  Join us on this episode where Bill and Sydney share some of their favorite moments from 2023, ranging from insightful podcast interviews to the growth of the NRHA Certification Programs.

Throughout our conversations this year, we've heard inspiring stories, innovative strategies, and compelling research from both seasoned and new rural health leaders. Bill and Sydney also discuss some exciting things coming in 2024, including individual and team coaching, the Rural Health Management and Leadership Academy, and, of course, many more engaging conversations on Rural Health Leadership Radio.

“We’ve met some amazing people this year and allowed them to share their stories”

-Sydney Grant

We extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been part of our mission this year—to enhance the world by involving rural health leaders in conversations, learning, and research. Here's to continuing this journey in 2024, happy holidays!

Bill Auxier, Ph.D. is President & CEO of Auxier Group and Program Director of NRHA’s Rural Hospital Certification Programs. Dr. Auxier is an expert in rural health leadership development. Dr. Auxier has worked with rural health leaders across the country to improve their organizations through more effective leadership, cultural transformation, and strategic plan development. He is the creator and co-host of the Rural Health Leadership Radio podcast and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Maryland Global Campus.

Sydney Grant, M.H.A. is COO of Auxier Group and Director of Programming for the NRHA Rural Hospital Certification Programs. Sydney started her journey in rural healthcare as an intern for the Rural Health Leadership Radio podcast, where she found her passion for rural healthcare, leadership development, and creative problem-solving. She co-hosts the Rural Health Leadership Radio podcast with Dr. Bill Auxier. She is also the Communications Director and Board Member for the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Western Florida Chapter.

Dec 19, 2023

During this holiday season, it’s wonderful to hear stories about strong leadership based on trust and love, and it’s also wonderful to hear stories of inspiration.  Stories of miracles.  That’s exactly what this special holiday episode is about.  Travis Udall is our guest, and he shares his story about his experiences as the CEO of a critical access hospital in rural Arizona. 

Travis delves into the significance of servant leadership and shares a moving story of how his hospital staff united to support a patient. Caring for this patient made a lasting imprint on the culture of the hospital and staff. Travis’s story serves as a reminder of the shared humanity we can all celebrate this holiday season.

“Make your leadership personable. Unify people, love people.”

-Travis Udall

Travis Udall BA, MA-ED Leadership, is the father of four and happily married for 35 years. He and his wife have 9 beautiful grandkids. He has served as a community leader as a teacher, principal, superintendent, and CEO of White Mountain Regional Medical Center in rural Arizona. His leadership experience has spanned 31 years. He and his wife love the outdoors and doing road trips to remote parts of the country.

Dec 12, 2023

Recruiting and retaining employees is a top priority for most rural hospitals, and important to sustain the future of rural healthcare. Human Resource leaders across the U.S. are employing creative strategies to boost employee engagement. In this week's RHLR episode, Jenna Janu, HR Director at Glacial Ridge Health System in Glenwood, Minnesota, sheds light on her initiatives to address these issues. 

On this week’s episode of RHLR, Jenna discusses her journey to rural healthcare. She also discusses the success of a mentorship program for new employees that Jenna created at Glacier Ridge. She highlights how this program has made a difference for employee engagement across the hospital.  

“Mentorship is not just a one-time experience, but a continued source of learning and guidance.” 

-Jenna Janu 

Jenna Janu is a 2019 graduate of the University of North Dakota. After graduating from UND, she went on to earn a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Mary, a private university near Bismarck, North Dakota, in 2020. She has been at Glacial Ridge Health System for three years in her current role and is a current participant in NRHA’s Rural Hospital HR Certification Program.

Dec 5, 2023

Data-backed decision-making is crucial in healthcare, but it can often be challenging, especially for rural hospitals with limited resources. However, from this week's conversation on Rural Health Leadership Radio, we learned that using, analyzing, and understanding community health data is more than achievable for rural hospitals. 

Join us this week as we engage in a conversation with Liz Craker, Health Systems Support Coordinator for the Office of Primary Care and Rural Health within the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, and John Wadsworth, Co-Founder of REDiHealth. We discuss how leveraging data to understand patient populations can help increase access to care and manage care gaps in rural areas. Liz and John discuss the importance of their collaboration with each other and the rural hospitals they serve. We also delve into the exciting aspects of rural health, including fast-paced innovation, creativity, and how they are assisting rural hospitals in using data to support these efforts.

“The cadence and amount of innovation in rural areas is staggering to when people understand and trust their data.”

-John Wadsworth

Liz Craker serves as the Health Systems Support Coordinator for the Office of Primary Care and Rural Health at the Utah Department of Health and Human Services. She earned her BA in Journalism from Franklin College and her MBA in Healthcare Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University. She has over 30 years of leadership, project management, non-profit management, grant writing, public relations, patient advocacy, and health equity experience. She previously worked in a Federally Qualified Health Center advocating for insurance enrollment and health literacy before coming to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

John Wadsworth is a co-founder at REDiHealth where he helps healthcare institutions to turn data into actionable assets. He is skilled at designing and implementing analytic strategies resulting in operational, clinical, and financial improvements. His passion for the healthcare industry stems from helping communities leverage data to improve community health with the desired result of strengthening the overall quality of life. John earned his Bachelor of Science in Human Genetics from The University of Utah and his Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics from the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Nov 28, 2023

Successful rural hospitals often have the characteristics of strong leadership, a culture of teamwork, and community support. In our upcoming episode, we explore the strategies for achieving this with our guest, Natalie Ryder, who serves as the Hospital Administrator at Ascension Borgess-Lee Hospital & Borgess Allegan Hospital in Allegan, Michigan.

During this week’s conversation on Rural Health Leadership Radio, Natalie highlights the importance of cultivating a positive workplace culture and fostering teamwork. She provides valuable insights into her approach to breaking down silos between hospital locations and implementing standardized processes for sustainable success, and how her past roles and military background help her achieve this. 

“I want anybody that works for me to feel supported and safe being themselves...there is no reason why we can’t be smiling all day”

-Natalie Ryder

Natalie Ryder is a Regional Hospital Administrator covering three hospitals in SW Michigan: 2 Critical Access Hospitals & 1 Long Term Acute Care Hospital. Ryder is a registered nurse and board-certified nurse executive who began her healthcare career in 2013, as a school nurse in Germany, following nine years in the U.S. Army as an Engineer Officer. Ryder held various nursing & leadership roles before becoming the administrator of Ascension Borgess-Lee Hospital in 2018 and adding Ascension Borgess Allegan and Ascension Borgess-Pipp Hospitals in Aug 2022.

Ryder’s goal is to provide resources and remove barriers so her hospitals can provide the best possible care to their communities, right where they live, without any need for travel. She led her team through the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and remained relentless in upholding their mission of delivering uninterrupted, high-quality care when & where it mattered most. 

Ryder earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Point Park College in her home state of Pennsylvania and an associate degree in nursing from Columbus Technical College in Georgia. She went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania and a Master of Business Administration degree in healthcare management from Western Governors University. Ryder has been an active member of the Michigan Center for Rural Health Critical Access Hospital Planning Committee since 2019, and an Ascension Advocacy and Public Policy Committee member since 2020.

Nov 21, 2023

Collaboration and connection are aspects we often emphasize in rural health. The rural advantage allows us to collaborate with each other and uniquely connect with our communities. 

Our guest this week on Rural Health Leadership Radio is no stranger to collaboration. We are delighted to share with you our conversation with Kevin Bennett, a Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Chair of the Department of Translational and Clinical Sciences, Director of the South Carolina Center for Rural & Primary Healthcare, and the Research Center for Transforming Health. 

Dr. Bennett discusses his work in rural health, emphasizing the importance of addressing food insecurity and bridging gaps in healthcare access. He highlights the need for comprehensive solutions, including collaborations with medical education institutions. We also explore how to attract young professionals to a rural lifestyle.

“Rural is more than a label, there’s a beauty to it and a strength in the community connection.”

-Kevin Bennett

Dr. Bennett is Professor and Chair in the Department of Translational and Clinical Science, at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, in Columbia, SC. He serves as the Director of the Research Center for Transforming Health and Director of the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare.

He also serves on the National Rural Health Association’s Board of Trustees and as President-Elect (2024).  His work focuses on care delivery for vulnerable and underserved populations and how policies and legislation affect these populations.  He has also worked extensively with community organizations, rural health networks, healthcare systems, and state agencies to create, facilitate, and evaluate the impact of innovative care delivery programs.

Nov 14, 2023

We love to celebrate on Rural Health Leadership Radio, and this week is one of our favorite occasions of the year: National Rural Health Day on November 16th! Since 2011, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) has devoted the third Thursday of every November to spotlight rural health and pay tribute to rural communities. This week, we welcome Tammy Norville, CEO of NOSORH, as our special guest to discuss how NOSORH is marking National Rural Health Day this year. We discuss Tammy's personal journey in the field of rural health. Additionally, we explore various ways everyone can participate in National Rural Health Day, either virtually or within your local community. Check out these websites for more information on National Rural Health Day: NOSORH.org,   PowerofRural.org

“National Rural Health Day is a celebration of the positive and the crazy, creative, and innovative ways rural health providers meet the needs of those folks they serve every day.”

-Tammy Norville

Tammy Norville joined the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) team in March of 2018 as Technical Assistance Director and moved into the NOSORH CEO role in June of 2022 with more than two decades of rural health experience.

Tammy is a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate. She served rural safety-net providers for almost 15 years in the North Carolina DHHS Office of Rural Health. Tammy currently maintains Certified Professional Coder – Instructor (CPC-I), Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Registered Medical Coder (RMC), Registered Medical Biller (RMB), and Registered Medical Manager (RMM) certifications.

Nov 7, 2023

If you are a veteran, thank you for your service! In recognition of all veterans, Rural Health Leadership Radio is proud to publish this special episode to honor all veterans this Veterans Day Nearly a quarter of all U.S. veterans choose to live in rural areas upon their return from active military service. Rural communities offer strong community support and close-knit relationships, enhancing the appeal of rural living for veterans. On the other hand, veterans contribute valuable leadership skills and core values to these rural areas. In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we are celebrating veterans and the great ways they contribute to rural communities. We are joined by three veterans and rural health leaders: 

  • Athena Minor, CNO/CCO of Ohio County Healthcare in Hartford, Kentucky.
  • Hannah Zaun, CNO of Dakota Regional Medical Center in Cooperstown, North Dakota.
  • Kenda Clopton, CNO of Ozarks Community Hospital in Gravette, Arkansas.

We welcome these three healthcare and military heroes to celebrate Veterans Day with us on Rural Health Leadership Radio!

“Veterans are all over the place using those things we learned from being in the military in our daily lives. We are in your local hospital, and ready to serve you in a new and different way now”

-Hannah Zaun

Athena Minor, hailing from Ohio County, Kentucky, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1985 and completed specialized Leadership Training with honors. She transitioned to a nursing career, earning her nursing degree from Owensboro Community College and a master's in Executive Leadership from Walden University. Currently pursuing a doctorate in Executive Leadership, Athena boasts diverse nursing experience, from neonatal and critical care to emergency and cardiac care in rural and urban settings. She's dedicated to managing chronic healthcare populations and led initiatives against infant mortality and childhood obesity in the Green River District during her five-year tenure in public health leadership. Athena serves as Chief Nursing and Clinical Officer at Ohio County HealthCare, actively participating in advisory committees, the Green River District Executive Board of Health, and healthcare panel discussions.

Kenda Clopton, RN, BSN is the Chief Nursing Officer of Ozarks Community Hospital. She has been married to her husband Marty for 32 years and they have three grown sons that are her absolute pride and joy. She graduated from Cox College of Nursing in Springfield, MO in 1998 with her ASN and returned to obtain her BSN in 2017. Currently, Kenda is taking graduate courses to obtain a Masters in Community-Based Health from Oklahoma City University. The calling to be a nurse and desire to help people needing care came early in life for her. She joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 1989 and proudly served as a surgical technologist (91D) until 1997. Her husband, oldest son, youngest brother, and brother-in-law are all veterans or still serving in the military today.

Hannah Zaun is the Chief Nursing Officer for Dakota Regional Medical Center and Griggs County Care Center in Cooperstown North Dakota.  Originally from Texas and a veteran of the United States Air Force, she has chosen to put all of her experience and efforts into making nursing and healthcare a better experience for all involved.  She is a graduate of Mayville State University with a Bachelors in Nursing and plans on continuing into a Masters in Nursing.  An ER nurse by trade, Hannah has a passion for emergency medicine, for creating safe spaces for nurses to work, mental health, policy change, and increasing resources and services in rural healthcare.

Oct 30, 2023

Over the past decade, we've witnessed substantial declines in cancer prevalence nationwide. However, the reduction in cancer mortality and incidence has been notably slower in rural areas of the United States. To mitigate the rising trend of cancer incidence and prevalence in these regions, it's important to place emphasis on cancer prevention. In this week's episode, we delve into the importance of prevention in the context of cancer. Joining us on Rural Health Leadership Radio is Bill Couzens, the founder and president of LessCancer.Org. Bill shares with us the story behind creating one of the first organizations committed to cancer prevention and how LessCancer.org is contributing to the reduction of cancer rates in rural communities.

“Nobody was talking about preventing cancer...So it’s a conversation that we started as an organization”

-Bill Couzens 

William U. (Bill) Couzens is an American advocate, blogger, speaker, and founder of the Next Generation Choices Foundation, also known as LessCancer.org charitable organization dedicated to cancer prevention. The loss of loved ones inspired him to provide free mammograms and establish LessCancer.org in 2004, focusing on reducing preventable cancer cases. Bill's commitment led to the creation of National Cancer Prevention Day in 2012, coinciding with World Cancer Day, and the bipartisan Congressional Cancer Prevention Caucus. He also partnered with the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation to educate families on reducing diseases and cancer risks associated with the environment. Bill's innovative initiatives extend to organizing the "Split the Mitt" bicycle ride and collaborating with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health.

Oct 24, 2023

It is so important to ensure future healthcare leaders have an understanding of rural health, and they can learn a lot in the process. One way to do so is to ensure students have the opportunity to learn about rural healthcare. Our next guest, Dr. Kristin Wilson Clinical Associate Professor and MHA Program Director at the University of Iowa, is excellently ensuring students are well-versed in rural health, no matter what career path they will pursue. In this episode, Kristin shares with us how she integrates rural health into the classroom for future healthcare leaders. We also have a great discussion about the importance of community engagement, and how Kristin is engaging rural communities in the development of MHA curriculum.

“I get really excited about the emerging leaders coming into rural healthcare. They are bringing a new energy, a new passion, and they are educated and trained in ways that even I wasn’t.”

-Dr.Kristin Wilson

Kristin Wilson is a clinical associate professor and director of the Master of Health Administration program in the Department of Health Management and Policy. She earned her PhD in public health sciences with a concentration in health management and policy from Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice, and her Master of Health Administration degree from the same institution.  While at SLU, Dr. Wilson directed the health management and policy MPH and MHA degree programs and served as the executive director of the Heartland Center for Population Health and Community Systems Development. 

In addition, since 2018, she has been the principal investigator of the Missouri subcontract to the Midwestern Public Health Training Center for Workforce Development, a multi-state collaborative funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and located within the University of Iowa College of Public Health. Prior to joining academia, Dr. Wilson held leadership positions within healthcare organizations and has experience at a local, state, national, and international level

Oct 17, 2023

Rural communities have long been touted for their remarkable resilience, and the same spirit is echoed in the hospitals in these communities. Many rural health leaders have a passion for serving the community they live in, and the resilience to keep healthcare accessible. Join us on this Episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, where we hear from a resilient leader herself, Lili Petricevic MBA, BSN, and CEO of Sheridan Community Hospital in Sheridan, Michigan. Lili shares some of her leadership traits that made the success of Sheridan Community Hospital possible. We also discuss how she builds connections and relationships with the frontline caregivers at her hospital. 

“Things can change, if you do a good assessment and have good determination of where you want to be you can do it. “

-Lili Petricevic

Lili Petricevic, MBA, BSN is the CEO of Sheridan Community Hospital since 2020. She was born in former Yugoslavia, Slovenia where she completed her education in Nursing and attended the University of Edvard Kardelj in Ljubljana. After immigrating to the United States and marrying a US military veteran, she received her BSN from the University of Detroit-Mercy and later her MBA with a concentration in healthcare from Davenport University. Since Lili settled in Michigan in 1992, she held various bedside RN positions ranging from rehabilitation, and med surg to Trauma Neuro intensive care. 

Her leadership positions as Manager and Director span from Nursing Departments, Care Management, Utilization Management, Home Care, Patient Care Logistics, and Throughput to third-party payer Medical Operations and Prior authorization divisions. In addition to these leadership roles, she has worked on the Tur-State IHI projects related to decreasing acute-level readmissions. Overall, Lili is extremely passionate about patient-focused healthcare services and finding opportunities to improve our healthcare system today. In her personal time, she enjoys spending time traveling with her husband Mark, and two daughters Jelena and Tiana.

Oct 10, 2023

On January 1st, 2023 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services opened enrollment for a new hospital designation, Rural Emergency Hospitals. Last fall the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published a final rule establishing criteria for a new Medicare provider type; Rural Emergency Hospitals. The REH designation was created in response to rural hospital closures, and the goal is to ensure rural communities have access to healthcare.

The final rule for REHs was effective on January 1, 2023, and our next guest led his hospital out of an unfortunate financial situation, to one of the first REHs in the country on March 27th, 2023.  Tune into our conversation with Ted Mathews, CEO of Anson General Hospital in Anson, Texas where we discuss how he and the community worked to ensure they had continued access to healthcare. 

“The Rural Emergency Hospital Designation is not for everyone, but it definitely was for us (Anson General Hospital). If we had not received that designation we would have been closed by now.”If we had not received that designation, we would have been closed by now.”

-Ted Matthews

Ted Matthews has been associated with rural healthcare for over 25 years. He has served as an administrator/CEO of two Texas rural hospitals: Anson General Hospital and Eastland Memorial Hospital. He also served on numerous healthcare boards such as Torch, THA, and some state agencies. In 2021, Mr. Matthews retired to enjoy time on the lake with family and friends. Recently, however, he was approached by Anson General Hospital, where he began his career as a hospital administrator, and asked to return on an interim basis to help the hospital navigate difficult financial times. He led the conversion of AGH to a Rural Emergency Hospital.

Oct 3, 2023

There are countless remarkable aspects to growing up in a rural community, ranging from the tight-knit bonds within the community to the invaluable mentors. Childhood experiences are major predictors of future health, so how can we actively foster more positive childhood encounters in rural communities? Our next guest may just have the answer. This week on Rural Health Leadership Radio we welcome back Dr. Elizabeth Crouch, Associate Professor of Health Services & Policy at Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina and Director of the Rural and Minority Health Research Center. 

Elizabeth discusses her research into positive childhood experiences in rural and urban areas. She also discusses the intersection between childhood experiences and health policy, shedding light on the instrumental role policy can play in promoting the well-being of rural youth. To read about some of the great research Dr. Crouch and her team is doing visit this link: https://www.ruralhealthresearch.org/projects/929

“Rural communities have a lot of positive, wonderful things going on ...Let's focus on the positive and highlight things that are going really well”

-Dr. Elizabeth Crouch

Dr. Crouch is an associate professor in the Department of Health Services Policy and Management within the Arnold School of Public Health and Director of the Rural and Minority Health Research Center.  Her work focuses on policy-related issues across the age spectrum in vulnerable populations at the beginning of life (children) and the end of life (elderly), particularly focusing on rural populations, with expertise in policy, claims-based analysis, and economics, with more than one hundred publications to date.  Dr. Crouch serves as Rural Health Congress chair of the National Rural Health Association board of trustees and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Rural Health.

Sep 26, 2023

Rural health organizations provide a platform for rural health clinicians, leaders, and patients to learn from one another and advocate for rural health. State rural health organizations help connect communities across the state, and that could not be done without strong leadership. This week on Rural Health Leadership Radio we welcome back Jacy Warrell, the CEO of Tennesse’s Rural Health Association. In our discussion with Jacy, she speaks to the amazing work the Rural Health Association of Tennesse is doing to support its members, including how they are working to alleviate healthcare workforce shortages. Jacy Highlights the importance of relationships and building a network in rural health, and how rural health organizations can help foster those relationships. 

“Rural health associations are so important and help keep our interests in mind as the world is changing so that rural communities are not forgotten”

-Jacy Warrell

Jacy Warrell, MPA brings people and organizations together to improve health outcomes through policy and programs. She is a listener, strategic thinker, and achiever who maintains that community engagement, education, and pairing direct services with advocacy is the best way to affect positive change. Currently, Jacy is the Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Health Association of Tennessee.

Sep 19, 2023

Advances in cardiovascular care have significantly improved the morbidity and mortality related to cardiovascular disease in the U.S., however rural areas are still falling behind. Rural residents still have higher rates of heart disease, and risk of heart failure. Our guest this week on Rural Health Leadership Radio is no stranger to the inequities rural communities face when it comes to cardiovascular care and is working to ensure rural areas have access to the care they need. Mindy Cook is a National Senior Director, Rural Health Care Quality, Outcomes, Research, and analytics for the American Heart Association (AHA). In our discussion with Mindy, she shares how the AHA is working to make cardiovascular outcomes better in rural areas and the important role of collaboration in keeping rural areas equipped to handle cardiovascular emergencies. To learn more about how your organization could use support from the AHA visit one of these links:

https://www.heart.org/en/professional/quality-improvement/get-with-the-guidelines

https://www.heart.org/en/professional/quality-improvement/rural-healthcare-outcomes-accelerator

“Where you live shouldn’t determine if you live. If you’re like me and live in a rural area, or that resonates with you, join our Rural Healthcare Outcome Accelerator Program so we can close those gaps in health outcomes between rural and urban America. “

-Mindy Cook

American Heart Association Quality, Outcomes, Research, & Analytics Team. Mindy leads the Association’s Rural Health Care Outcomes Accelerator initiative to support evidence-based care in the rural setting through the optimization of outcomes for cardiovascular & stroke patients. Mindy holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and practiced clinically in the areas of critical care, cardiac catheterization, and cardiac network coordination for 12 years prior to joining the Association. During her 12-year tenure at the Association, she has led various statewide and regional initiatives to optimize quality and systems of care coordination that have yielded a lasting improvement in patient outcomes. She is passionate about the Rural Accelerator’s opportunity to expand this model to rural hospitals nationwide through participation in the Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Stroke, CAD, and Heart Failure Programs, learning collaboratives, rural community network, and quality research publications. Mindy has a strong passion for rural health care fueled by growing up on a ranch in North Dakota where the nearest health care services were provided by a critical access hospital. She resides on a horse farm in rural Minnesota where in her free time, she enjoys performance horse competitions and trail riding.

Sep 12, 2023

In the world of rural health, where resources are scarce, emergency preparedness is not just important; it's essential. Join us on this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio as we dive into how the leaders of Ochiltree General Hospital in Perryton, Texas, faced a catastrophic tornado head-on. Our guests, Kelly Judice (CEO), Debbie Beck (CFO), and Jyme Kinnard (CNO) of Ochiltree General Hospital, share their firsthand experience and insights into managing a rural health crisis. In this episode, we explore the details of Ochiltree General Hospital’s response to the devastating tornado. Kelly, Debbie, and Jyme recount the lessons they learned, and the resilience displayed by their small hospital during this crisis. This episode highlights a great story of the importance of leadership and collaboration in Rural health. 

“It was like living a nightmare, but witnessing a miracle all at the same time.”

-Jyme Kinnard

Kelly began working as a staff nurse at Ochiltree General Hospital (OGH) in January 2001. She worked in clinical nursing at the hospital for 15 years before becoming the CNO and COO of the hospital. Kelly is now the interim CEO and has been since October 2022. She has an associate Degree in Nursing as a Registered Nurse and BSM. Kelly is also currently enrolled at Texas Tech obtaining her Master of Science in Healthcare Administration and will graduate this December. She is also a proud wife and mother of three children, one son-in-law and three grandkids. 

Debbie was born and raised in Perryton, Texas, and began working at OGH in high school. She has been the director of both the Business Office and Human Resources for OGH. She became the CFO in October 2020. Debbie has an Associate in Science degree, BBA in Finance, and is currently working on her MBA in Healthcare Management. She also has a wonderful husband and three very busy kids in junior high and high school. 

Jyme was born in Borger, Texas, and raised in Fritch, Texas.  After moving several times with her husband as a store director at United Supermarket, they made Perryton our home in 2010. She worked the night shift here at OGH for several years, managed the rural health clinic for six years, then accepted the ACNO/TNC position in January 2019, and ultimately became the CNO in March 2021.  Jyme’s husband left his store management position of 20 years last year, and they now own a restaurant in town, Daddy’s Dogs, and more.  They have three beautiful children, Courtney, 30; who works at Daddy’s Dogs; Aaron, 28; who works for Xcel Energy and Callan, 24, who is an RN and mommy.   A wonderful son-in-law Logan, 25, is a lineman with North Plains Electric, and the most perfect grandson, Ryne, who is 17 months old. 

Sep 5, 2023

We love sharing stories of successful hospitals, leaders, and programs on rural health leadership radio. This week we have the pleasure of talking with two rural health leaders of the 2023 National Rural Health Association’s Outstanding Rural Health Organization, Memorial Hospital in Carthage Illinois.  Ada Bair, CEO, and Raigan Brown, CNO join us this week to discuss how they built such a strong rural hospital. They highlight the importance of community connection and moving healthcare beyond the four walls of the hospital.  Raigan and Ada also share with us some of the great things happening at Memorial Hospital, a teaching kitchen to expanding behavioral health services and so much more. 

“We know how to innovate and collaborate and I think that is what truly is going to contribute to the viability of rural health.”

-Ada Blair

Raigan Brown MHA, RN was born and raised in Carthage, IL. She has been with Memorial Hospital in Carthage for 11 years and has grown through the ranks starting as a staff ED nurse, moving to leadership in Rural Health Clinics, then to a department manager, and now the Chief Nursing Officer. Raigan has recently completed the NRHA CEO Certification program and her aspirations are to continue to learn and be involved in rural healthcare administration. Raigan is actively involved in many of Memorial’s strategic plans and projects. Raigan also has an active community involvement with the Hancock County EMS, Carthage Park District, The Crossing Church, and Hancock County Addiction Coalition just to name a few.  

Ada Bair started her career in nursing and with great mentors over the years obtained her BSN and MHA.  Having worked in the clinical arena for many years she transitioned to operations serving as a COO in 2 organizations prior to becoming a CEO for her current organization.  After 20 years serving the community it certainly is home.  Community outreach and support are key to rural leadership and as such volunteers with state professional organizations as well as several local organizations and boards.  An outreach passion is the nonprofit she organized 10 years ago, Food For Thoughts Hancock County where meal bags go home on Friday for children who have food insecurity – serving over 250 children in 6 school districts with an all-volunteer team.

Aug 29, 2023

Running a rural hospital requires a lot of time, commitment, and knowledge. It is essential that rural health leaders have a platform to learn and share their success stories. This week we welcome back Brock Slabach, Chief Operating Officer of the National Rural Health Association, to discuss how the NRHA is supporting rural hospitals and those who lead them. Brock discusses a variety of programs that support rural hospital executives, boards, and legislators. 

We also talk about an upcoming event to connect with rural health leaders- the Critical Access Hospital Conference in Kansas City, MO. Register with the link below for early bird pricing by September 7th! Link for CAH conference registration

“We don't do nearly enough of recognizing the great work that hospitals are doing in rural areas. And this conference is a way for us to show a showcase some of that stunning work that's going on out in, in rural parts of our country.”

-Brock Slabach 

Brock joined NRHA in 2008. He is NRHA's Chief Operating Officer. He was a rural hospital administrator for more than 21 years and has served on the board of the National Rural Health Association and the regional policy board of the American Hospital Association. Brock specializes in rural health system development that encompasses population health and the varied payment programs moving rural providers into value-based purchasing models. 

Brock is a member of the National Quality Forum’s Measures Application Partnership (MAP) Rural Health Workgroup and serves on the Board of Directors of Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC). Brock is the 2015 recipient of the Calico Quality Leadership Award of the National Rural Health Resource Center, received the American Society of Healthcare Pharmacists (ASHP) Board of Directors’ Award of Honor for 2018, and the NRHA’s President’s Award in 2023. Brock earned a master of public health degree in health administration from the University of Oklahoma and is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Aug 22, 2023

The prevalence of mental illness is on the rise across the U.S., but the mental healthcare needs of rural residents often are not met. Our next guest on Rural Health Leadership Radio, Dr. Carrie Cadwell, discusses how community mental health centers and crisis stabilization units can provide better mental health access to rural residents. Dr. Cadwell is a psychologist and President/CEO of 4C Health, in our conversation she shares why she was drawn to behavioral health from her experiences growing up. We also discuss how 4C Health is combatting fatigue in a healthcare workforce we know is facing burnout at levels we have never seen before.

“Community mental health centers in every state are set up really to be that safety net for mental health and behavioral health.”

-Dr. Carrie Cadwell

Dr. Carrie Cadwell has been the CEO/President of 4C Health since 2017. She is a licensed psychologist in the state of Indiana. Dr. Cadwell has dedicated her almost 20-year career to rural North Central Indiana communities and in particular serving the behavioral health and substance use recovery needs of those with significant socio-economic disadvantage.

Aug 15, 2023

Community Health Workers are crucial to improving public health, especially in rural areas where health services are limited. Rural Community Health Workers improve health outcomes by acting as a connector between health services and patients. This week we learn more about the important role of CHWs in rural areas from Claire Hughes, a doctoral student and Outreach Coordinator at Community Health & Emergency Services (CHESI) in Cairo, IL. In our conversation with Claire, we delve into how research supports the role of CHWs and discuss current obstacles encountered by this workforce. We also explore how CHWs can impact the future of rural health equity. 

“CHWs are a flexible workforce, and they can reach populations that licensed professionals, researchers and policymakers just will not be able to.”

-Claire Hughes

Claire Hughes is the Outreach Coordinator at Community Health & Emergency Services (CHESI) in Cairo, IL. She has been working in outreach and family advocacy in Southern Illinois for almost 10 years and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Population Health at SIU Carbondale. Claire is an active advocate for the inclusion of peer-support interventions in rural healthcare. Her doctoral research focuses on the development of the community health worker workforce in rural healthcare systems.

Aug 8, 2023

This week, we are celebrating the 7th anniversary of Rural Health Leadership Radio! Listen in to hear from Bill and Sydney discuss the wonderful journey of how this podcast started, and how it has created a community for rural health leaders worldwide. Bill and Sydney also countdown our top 10 most listened episodes. We are lucky to have built a community with our guests and listeners of Rural Health Leadership Radio over the last 7 years. Thank you for joining our journey to improve the world by engaging rural health leaders in conversations, learning, and research!

“We’re trying to make people feel connected, not isolated, by sharing best practices, success stories, what’s working, what’s not working in rural health. “ 

-Dr. Bill Auxier

Dr. Bill Auxier founded Rural Health Leadership Radio 7 years ago with the mission of impacting rural healthcare at a very fundamental level. Rural Health Leadership Radio provides a forum for conversations, learning, and research, to assist rural health leaders in becoming more effective leaders. We provide a space for rural health leaders to discuss and share what ideas are working, what are not, lessons learned, success stories, strategies, things to avoid, and anything else relating to rural health leadership.

Aug 1, 2023

The perspectives of young leaders in rural health are incredibly valuable, and this week we are joined by our very own, Jaquesha Jefferson. Jaquesha is an intern with the Center for Rural Health Leadership and a Master of Public Health student at Florida State University. In our conversation, Jaquesha shares her perspective on rural health from growing up in a small Florida town, and what she has learned from her experiences working in rural health.  She highlights the importance of understanding different cultural backgrounds as they relate to healthcare, and we discuss the incredible bonds created among rural health leaders. 

“Individuals in rural communities really stick together and want to help, It's not a mindset of I want to be the best, but how can we all be the best. “

-Jaquesha Jefferson

Jaquesha Jefferson is a 21-year-old native of Tallahassee, FL. Miss Jefferson graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences on a Pre-Clinical Track from UCF in August 2022. She is currently pursuing her Master of Public Health degree at Florida State University with a concentration in health policy and is interested in understanding what changes can be implemented at the governmental level to eliminate health disparities faced by individuals residing in rural communities. Jaquesha previously worked for the Florida Department of Health as the FLEX Grant Coordinator, where she was able to implement a Rural Emergency Hospital education curriculum and oversee other various projects to support the health and success of rural counties in the State. Currently, she works remotely as a Data Analyst for CommHIT, a501 (c)(6) located at the Kennedy Space Center. Miss Jefferson has a true passion for serving others, and expanding access to care for all individuals, ensuring that the quality of life is great for all by the elimination of health disparities.

Jul 25, 2023

The significance of pharmacists is growing in rural regions where healthcare provider accessibility is declining. Fortunately, initiatives such as the Rural GME Center aim to expand opportunities for rural residency training programs. Our guest this week is Emily Hawes, a practicing rural pharmacist, Associate Professor in the UNC Department of Family Medicine, and Associate Professor of Clinical Education in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Additionally, she serves as the Deputy Director of the Rural Residency and Teaching Health Center Planning & Development. During our discussion with Emily, we explore the evolving role of pharmacy in rural communities. She also provides valuable insights on how rural areas can collaborate to establish rural graduate medical education programs. More information about this can be found at RuralGME.org.

“Rural GME increases access to care, it enhances clinical services and it brings the needed workforce to rural areas”

-Emily Hawes 

Dr. Hawes is an Associate Professor in the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine and UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, where she is a leader in rural practice innovation and rural education.   She has a broad background in medical and pharmacy student and resident education, including residency program leadership.  She serves as a Clinical Pharmacist Practitioner in a family medicine clinic in rural western North Carolina. As Deputy Director of the Rural Residency Planning and Development and Teaching Health Center Planning and Development – Technical Assistance Centers, she has helped create the infrastructure to provide technical assistance to over 150 developing medical and dental residencies across multiple specialties in rural and underserved communities.

Jul 18, 2023

You may not notice that there is a large presence of incarcerated settings in rural America. Nearly 40% of state prisons are in rural areas. People who are incarcerated have unique healthcare needs, facing higher rates of mental illness, substance abuse, and chronic illness than the general population. This week on Rural Health Leadership Radio Charles Mathias, Professor and Director of Innovation & Impact Organization at UT Health San Antonio, discusses how rural communities play a role in providing healthcare to incarcerated persons. In our conversation with Charles, we talk about the challenges of healthcare for incarcerated persons and what the future might look like. 

“Incarceration is not intended to be a healthcare setting, but they really are the biggest one in many communities when it comes to mental health” 

-Charles Mathias

Dr. Mathias is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UT Health San Antonio.  His research focuses on improving health outcomes stemming from behavioral health risk and its interaction with community systems.  His policy work applies a Culture of Health Framework in promoting solutions for population well-being through cross-sector collaboration.  He is an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellowship, Dr. Mathias guides RTTC activities related to strategic communication and health policy.

Jul 11, 2023

There is something special about the sense of community and family in rural communities. These values also extend into rural hospitals, which play an increasingly important role in rural America. Our next guest, Ben Davis, values the environment and family feel of rural hospitals. Ben is the President & CEO of Glencoe Regional Health Services. In our conversation with Ben, we discussed the importance of investing in your community and how he has prioritized being the employer and provider of choice in Glencoe. 

“Do the right thing for the right reason at the right time based on the values that you hold and that your organizations hold and invest in people.”

-Ben Davis

Ben brings over 15 years of healthcare experience to the role. Most recently, he served as President and CEO of Osceola Regional Health Center for 6 years and is currently the President and CEO of Glencoe Regional Health Services. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Radiologic Sciences from North Dakota State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Sioux Falls. Ben earned the Rural Hospital CEO Certification through the National Rural Health Association Center for Rural Leadership and recently received the Iowa Hospital Association Young Executive Award in 2022, as well as the Inspiring CEO Pinnacle Award from the HealthCare Service Excellence Conference in 2021.

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