Robert Thorn is the Principal at Summit Healthcare Strategies, where he assists hospitals and healthcare organizations in the identification of and response to market needs.
“How do they see us? Are we serving their needs? Are we doing everything we can to optimize the care in the community?”
Bob’s experience in telehealth includes serving as Executive Director of TRU PACE, a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, where during his tenure the organization was awarded a $100,000 telehealth grant to introduce remote monitoring technology to help people safely "age in place." He has also served as the lead developer and Executive Director of the "Quitline" Tobacco Cessation Programs for the States of Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Ohio; Chairman of the High Plains Rural Health Network; and Administrator of Ambulatory Services and Regional Rural Outreach for Banner Health, where he introduced rural telehealth solutions to bridge distances and to allow for earlier intervention.
He has a Bachelor of Science degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a Master's degree in Business Administration from National University, San Diego. He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Michael Fischer, M.D., MPH & TM has worked for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for over 6 years in the Infectious Disease Control Unit (IDCU) and in October of 2017, he took-on the role of Antibiotic Stewardship Expert for the Health Care Safety Group of the Infectious Disease Control Unit at Tx-DSHS.
“The biggest predictor has been leadership.”
Prior to taking on this role, Michael served Texas as the epidemiologist and subject matter expert for prion disease surveillance. Additionally, Michael has also served as a medical epidemiologist, during outbreaks involving high consequence pathogens (West Africa Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in 2014) or events with elevated public concern (travel-related Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV)), providing consults to physicians, infection control practitioners, and healthcare facilities on appropriateness of testing, test results, prevention and control measures, and mechanisms of disease transmission.
As the Antibiotic Stewardship Expert, Dr. Fischer's primary role is to promote the implementation and enhancement of antibiotic stewardship programs in Texas across all healthcare settings.
Today we’re having a conversation with Andrea Wendling, M.D., Professor of Family Medicine and Director of Rural Medicine Curriculum at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.
“Today’s medical students often say, “I want to care for a community. Teach me how to do that.” I think that’s really exciting.”
Dr. Wendling completed medical school at the University of Michigan and residency training at Michigan State University’s Grand Rapids Family Medicine Residency Program. After residency, she was an Assistant Director for the residency until 2003, when she moved to Northern Michigan to practice rural medicine.
Dr. Wendling is Director of the Rural Community Health Program, a rural training program for MSU-CHM medical students, and the Rural Premedical Internship Program, a pipeline program for undergraduate students interested in rural medicine.
She has received many teaching awards including MSU-CHM’s Arnold P. Gold Humanism Award, Outstanding Community Volunteer Faculty Award, and most recently, the Rural Professional of the Year Award from the Michigan Center for Rural Health.
Dr. Wendling has served on the editorial board for the Family Medicine journal since 2004, including Editor of the Dedicated Issue on Rural Health (2010), and Assistant Editor for the journal since 2013. She is also a founding Associate Editor of Peer-Reviewed Reports in Medical Education and Research (PRIMER). She participates on rural workforce research groups for the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) and Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and has presented and published in the areas of medical education and the rural health workforce.
Dr. Wendling lives in rural Northern Michigan, with her husband and four wonderful kids. When her family is not having adventures traveling the world they can be found playing bluegrass music, camping, or skiing and snowmobiling around Northern Michigan.
Today we’re having a conversation with Nicole Thorell, MSN, CEN, Chief Nursing Officer at Lexington Regional Health Center in Lexington, Nebraska. Nicole has been at Lexington Regional for ten years, and has been Chief Nursing Officer for four years. Prior to becoming the CNO, Nicole was a staff nurse and Director of Nursing Quality.
“The secret sauce is really the transition care team.”
Lexington Regional Health Center was able to reduce readmissions by over 80%. Nicole was one of the key players to accomplish this along with Leslie Marsh, CEO, and Dana Steiner the Chief Nursing Officer prior to Nicole being in that position. Nicole was the data collector at the beginning and the first Transitional Care Director really got a great foundation of where hospital needed to go. Current Director of Transitional Care, Brittany Hueftle, is now taking the program beyond what was thought to be possible.
Nicole received her diploma in nursing from Bryan College of Health Sciences, and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Masters of Science in Nursing from Kaplan University.
Today we’re having a conversation with Kelly McGrath, MD, MS, Chief Medical Officer at Clearwater Valley hospital and Clinics where he has served as a rural Family Medicine physician for 24 years. He is also the Idaho Medical Director for Qualis Health – the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization.
“I’ve gone from being a doubting Thomas to a true believer.”
Dr. McGrath is a graduate of the University of Washington Medical School and the Ventura County Family Medicine Residency program.
Prior to his career in medicine, Dr. McGrath worked as a research chemical engineer where he developed a strong interest in process improvement and system optimization. That previous experience continues to drive his interest in healthcare quality in his current capacity as Idaho Medical Director of Qualis Health and Chief Medical Officer at Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics.
This week we are celebrating Rural Health Leadership Radio™’s 2-year anniversary! Yes! Rural Health Leadership Radio™ is two years old!
To celebrate, we are going to review the “Top 10” most listened to episodes, with a “Top 10 Count Down.”
We also have a few special announcements!
Announcement #1: Rural Health Leadership Radio™’s mission is to engage rural health leaders in conversations, learning and research. To achieve our mission, Rural Health Leadership Radio™ has become a non-profit organization, and just recently, achieved 501(c) (3) status! A great accomplishment that will greatly assist us in achieving our mission!
Announcement #2: Rural Health Leadership Radio™ has just published a book! What Rural Health Leaders are Saying is a summary of the inaugural year of Rural Health Leadership Radio™, filled with a collection of ideas and best practices from exceptional rural health leaders FOR rural health leaders. Guests include Alan Morgan, R.D. Williams, Brock Slabach, Kris Allen, Steve Barnett and many, many more! Proceeds from book sales will all go directly to Rural Health Leadership Radio™ to help us fulfill our mission.
Announcement #3: Rural Health Leadership Radio™ is headed to Australia! Will you come join us? In Episode # 97, we had a conversation with Mark Diamond, the CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance of Australia, and he invited all Rural Health Leadership Radio™ listeners to come join them for their bi-annual conference in March 2019. So, we’re going! In fact, with Mark’s assistance, we are putting together Rural Health Leadership Study Tour AUSRALIA. This 2-week trip to the land down under includes several visits to rural hospitals and clinics, two conferences, and along the way, we’ll do some sight-seeing. If you are at all interested, please send me an email today to email@example.com. The trip is the last half of March, and space is limited, so be one of the first to confirm so you won’t be left out.
This week we’re having a conversation with Jenna Bernson, a medical student at Michigan State University. Jenna attended Grand Valley State University’s Frederic Meijer Honors College and obtained her Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Science with minors in Chemistry and Music.
“The U.P. has three times the rate of neonatal abstinence syndrome than any other region in Michigan and almost five times that of Detroit.”
Jenna is currently a 3rd year medical student at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. She hopes to pursue a career in psychiatry.
Being that she is from a rural community, her passion for rural medicine as well as psychiatry have driven her research interests. Currently, she is involved in research and quality improvement projects with hopes to improve access to psychiatric care in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
This week we’re having a conversation with Kate Hill, Vice President of Clinical Services with The Compliance Team.
“Our motto is actually safety, honesty and caring.”
Kate Hill, RN, is a graduate of Albert Einstein Medical Center School of Nursing in Philadelphia, PA. As an Army Nurse, Kate served in Viet Nam (27th Surgical Hospital in Chu Lai) where she was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service. Kate has worked with orthopedic patients in several capacities including Head Nurse of Orthopedics in Newark, NJ., followed by Biomet working in various capacities.
Kate joined The Compliance Team (TCT) in early 2012 to direct TCT’s rural health clinic accreditation program and has fallen in love with Rural. As VP of Clinical Services, she has spearheaded the TCT Rural Health Clinic Accreditation program combining her clinical expertise, business acumen and passion for delivery of the best care possible to every patient. She presently serves on the Board of the National Association of Rural Health Clinics. Kate also works with clinics in TCT’s PCMH program and is ensuring that a PCMH accreditation is being increasingly rewarded by payers.
Kate lives in suburban Philadelphia with her husband and near her three granddaughters. She’s happy to share photos anytime.
John Gardner, CEO of the Telluride Regional Medical Center (TRMC) in Telluride, CO. John joined TRMC as its Chief Executive Officer in June 2016 is this week's guest.
“How do we protect the viability of the organization, be responsive to the needs of the community and try to be good stewards of health care dollars?”
Prior to joining TRMC, John served as the CEO at Yuma District Hospital and Clinics, located in Yuma. Previously, he has been a member of the management and executive teams of P/SL Healthcare in Denver, Sentara Health System in Norfolk, Virginia, Rocky Mountain Adventist Health System in Denver, Colorado, Centura Health System, North Valley Hospital in Thornton, and Good Samaritan Health Systems in Kearney, Nebraska.
Mr. Gardner has served in a variety of community and professional organizations. He currently serves on the Boards of the Center for Health Progress, the Colorado Rural Health Center and the Tri-County Health Network.
Katie Peterson, Chief Nursing Officer at Pender Community Hospital, a Critical Access Hospital in Pender, Nebraska, joins us this week.
“Our nursing staff is mostly millennials, so short staffing comes from having multiple nurses on maternity leave at the same time, not open positions.”
In addition to sitting on the senior executive team and providing nursing leadership, Katie also provides oversight to imaging, laboratory, pharmacy, behavioral health and quality.
Katie has empowered her teams to improve quality and expand services in all areas. During Katie's time at Pender, the hospital has won numerous national awards in quality and patient satisfaction.
Katie is a registered nurse with a Bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Darrold Bertsch, the CEO of Sakakawea Medical Center, a Critical Access Hospital located in Hazen, North Dakota and also the CEO of Coal Country Community Health Center, an FQHC with locations in Beulah, Hazen, Killdeer and Center North Dakota is here with us today.
“There are challenges that certainly come our way, but local challenges need local solutions that are developed by local people.”
Darrold has served in this unique shared CEO role for the last 7 years, leading collaborative efforts that have improved the delivery of patient care and the development of a patient centered medical neighborhood of care.
Darrold has worked in healthcare for 43 years, the last 23 as a CEO. He is an active proponent of rural healthcare and serves on various local, state and national boards and committees.
Dr. Scott Daniels, Performance Improvement Coordinator at the State of Hawaii Office of Primary Care and Rural Health joins us today.
“Providing care in a culturally appropriate way is something that really gets stressed a lot in Hawaii, particularly in the rural areas.”
Scott Daniels, Ph.D., has been in health care over eighteen years where he began as an analyst doing community health reports and analyzing hospital quality. In 2005, Scott began working for the Hawaii Office of Primary Care and Rural Health as the Performance Improvement Coordinator, where he oversees the state’s Flex program. He also served as interim chief of the office from 2006 to 2008.
Within the state, Scott has served on the Legislature’s Telehealth task force and on the Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center’s Advisory Board. He currently sits on the Hawaii Trauma Advisory Committee.
Nationally, Scott has served on the Rural Health Works advisory committee and on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the National Organization for State Offices of Rural Health, where he served as a president from 2015 through 2017. He currently serves on the advisory committees for the Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC) and on the Board of Trustees for the National Rural Health Association.
Scott earned his BA in Political Science from the University of Montana and his MA and PhD in Political Science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Scott lives on the Big Island of Hawaii where he passes time until the next natural disaster by brewing beer, raising chickens, and battling with his yard.
This week we’re having a conversation with Mike Leventhal, Executive Director of Men's Health Network-Tennessee.
“Leadership is the opportunity to serve.”
Since 2003, Mike has been serving as Executive Director for the Tennessee affiliate of Men's Health Network (MHN). Mike is responsible for MHN operations within Tennessee and consults with key staff on program coordination throughout the Southeastern United States, with an acute focus on outreach to policy makers, media, and private/public foundations. Additionally, Mike represents MHN in other state activities through a variety of unique capacities.
Mike is the founder of Save the Doodads.org, an MHN signature campaign that is designed to use humor while raising testicular cancer awareness and the importance of the testicular self-examination to the millennial generation.
Mike attended George Washington University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Mike is active in a number of professional associations, including:
This week we’re having a conversation with Mark Diamond, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance in Australia. Mark has had extensive experience in the management of public sector health and community services organizations in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia over a period in excess of 30 years. Mark has also occupied central agency roles including the redevelopment of mental health services in South Australia. More recently he was asked to assist a major not for profit aged and community services provider in the Northern Territory – Uniting Care Australia – Frontier Services. He was subsequently appointed Director of that service.
“Leadership is about creating the culture for people to thrive and contribute.”
Mark has skills and experience in hospital, health service and aged care management particularly in regional and remote areas and has skills in leadership, project management, change management and service design. He has been appointed to several quality evaluation panels at both state and federal level and has a strong interest in mental health, Indigenous health, primary health care, aged care and rural health.
He holds tertiary qualifications in Arts (Psych) and Social Work, is a Fellow and Board Director with the Australian College of Health Service Management, Board Director Health Consumer Alliance South Australia and former Council Member, National Rural Health Alliance Inc.
Mark was engaged on a consultancy basis to assist the NRHA Board in August last year and was subsequently appointed CEO in December 2017. The NRHA is the peak advocacy body for rural health in Australia.
This week we’re having a conversation with Christy Hopkins. Christy serves as the director of Greeley County Community Development, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring stability and growth for Unified Greeley County. She is also the secretary for Growing the Vision: A Foundation for the Future of Greeley County and treasurer of The Star Theater of Tribune, a community-owned movie theater.
“Greeley County ranks 105th out of 105 counties in the State of Kansas, but we’re eighth per capita in the number of college degrees for a population.”
Christy is a Class X graduate of the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership (KARL) program and a Kansas Health Foundation Fellow. She serves on the Kansas Sampler Foundation board and is a core-team member of the PowerUps, a Kansas Sampler initiative dedicated to the empowerment and connection of Kansans aged 21-39 who are rural by choice. She also serves as president for wKREDA, the western Kansas Regional Economic Development Alliance.
Christy holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and film from Southwestern College in Winfield.
This week we’re having a conversation with Carrie Henning-Smith, Ph.D. Dr. Henning-Smith is the Deputy Director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
Dr. Henning-Smith has led multiple research projects at the Rural Health Research Center, with a wide range of topics including the social determinants of health, access to and quality of care, and aging and long-term care.
“Nobody wants to end up in a nursing home…”
She was chosen as a 2017 Rural Health Fellow by the National Rural Health Association and serves as a current editorial board member for the Journal of Rural Health.
She received her MPH and MSW from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and her Ph.D. in Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration from the University of Minnesota.
This week we’re having a conversation with Hilda Heady. Hilda has 50 years of experience as a rural health leader, direct service professional, health professions’ educator and strong advocate for rural families and rural women’s health care including childbearing services. Hilda is also an advocate for Veterans and communities.
“We developed a plan to establish the state’s [West Virginia] first alternative in-hospital birth center.”
Hilda Heady’s work and advocacy is focused on how best to inform policies and practices which impact rural people and the service institutions in their communities.
She served as a charter member of the VA Secretary’s Rural Health Advisory Committee from 2008 to 2013 and as the 2005 President of the National Rural Health Association. For 18 years, she was the associate vice president for rural health at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center at WVU, and for seven years the senior vice president with Atlas Research, a service disabled veteran owned small business.
Hilda is a frequent national speaker on rural culture and resilience, maternal and child health in rural areas, rural health and mental health care and issues faced by rural veterans and their families.
This week we’re having a conversation with Tommy Barnhart, President of the National Rural Health Association. Tommy has over 45 years of experience in healthcare finance and operations, working with hospitals, long-term care providers, home health agencies, hospices, clinics and other healthcare entities.
“We need to provide that organization, the hospital organization, with a methodology to move into the future so that it can provide more of a community-based service.”
Tommy has a B.A. (Business Administration) from Bridgewater College and is the former CFO of a large rural hospital. He has consulted on a wide variety of financial management and operational issues in rural health.
This week we’re having a conversation with Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association. Alan is recognized as among the top 100 most influential people in healthcare by Modern Healthcare Magazine, He has more than 26 years’ experience in health policy development at the state and federal level, and is one of the nation’s leading experts on rural health policy.
“Global budgeting is probably 5 to 10 years off and the direction that it appears the nation is headed.”
As the CEO of the NRHA, Alan has observed the changes taking place in rural health from a front row seat. The National Rural Health Association is a national nonprofit membership organization with more than 20,000 members whose mission is to provide leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communication, education and research. NRHA membership consists of a diverse collection of individuals and organizations, all of whom share the common bond of an interest in rural health.
This week we’re having a conversation with Tim Wolters, Director of Reimbursement, Citizens Memorial Hospital, Bolivar, MO. Tim is also Reimbursement Specialist for Lake Regional Health System, Osage Beach, MO. Prior to joining these health systems in 2010, he spent 26 years with BKD, a CPA and consulting firm based in Springfield, MO, where he worked with hospitals and health systems around the nation on a variety of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement issues.
“Over a course of three years while that category was in effect, it saved about $20 Million in reimbursement.”
Tim is Treasurer of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), where he also serves on the Government Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Federal Reimbursement Allowance Policy Committee of the Missouri Hospital Association. He completed two terms on the Rural Hospital Issues Group established by the Health Resources Services Administration, sponsored by the American Hospital Association and the NRHA.
This week we’re having a conversation with Dr. Emily Gill, a Family Physician practicing in rural New Zealand. Emily Gill, M.B.Ch.B., B.Med.Sci., is a 2017-18 New Zealand Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice, a research fellowship awarded by The Commonwealth Fund. She is currently based at The Brigham and Women’s Hospital, affiliated with the Harvard Medical School, Boston.
“I work in a clinic in a community of 500 in this little pre-fab room and I can look up at the window and it’s a beautiful coastal scenery that sort of subtropical and we even have an active volcano in the Bay that passes out steam regularly that I can see from my clinic room. That’s pretty special!”
Back in New Zealand, she is a full-time, rural Family Physician in two rural practices in the Bay of Plenty of the North Island, where she focuses on the management of complex chronic conditions in high-needs populations and is an advocate for improved coordination of care through clinical governance activities. After completing her medical qualifications in 2003, Gill spent time as a rural hospital medicine trainee in New Zealand and volunteered with Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontiers) working on two projects in West Africa.
Gill’s research experience includes several summer internships, and she was the first recipient of year-long research degree in General Practice in New Zealand. She has published peer-reviewed articles on the management of diabetes in aged-care facilities and cardiovascular disease risk assessments in the community setting. She was also an active member of the New Zealand Doctors-in-Training-Council (2009-2012, Deputy Chair 2010).
Dr. Gill received her medical and research degrees from the University of Otago, and is a Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practice.
This week we’re having a conversation with Jonathan Sprague, the President of Rocky Coast Consulting (RCC), located in Bangor, Maine. Jonathan has over forty years of health care related management consulting experience focused on strategy and business development, organizational leadership, and hospital-physician relationships. He has extensive experience providing consulting to rural hospitals, physicians, FQHCs, and other health care organizations across the country.
“Rural people are at risk. Rural communities are at risk. And I think in many cases, profound risk, more risk than they realize.”
Jonathan has provided planning support to fourteen State Offices of Rural Health; chaired the National Rural Health Association’s Issue Groups on Rural Medicaid Policy and General Surgery; and facilitated the development of statewide, rural health plans in Virginia, North Carolina, and Maine.
Jonathan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College; received a Master’s Degree in Health Policy and Management from the Harvard School of Public Health; and completed an Advanced Fellowship in Health Administration in the Presidents’ Offices of the American Hospital Association and Blue Cross Association.
This week we’re having a conversation with Austin Gillard, CEO of Clay County Medical Center, in Clay Center, Kansas. Austin is a Kansas native having grown up in Overland Park, Kansas. He received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kansas and a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Missouri.
“I was still green, but the good thing is I had over 20 mentors helping me launch my career to become successful.”
Austin’s background in healthcare started in 2008 as a physician recruiter. In 2011, he moved into a management role and was responsible for six hospital emergency departments across Kansas and Missouri.
In early 2013, Austin developed a ‘rural track administrative fellowship’ and moved to Pratt, Kansas, to work under the CEO of Pratt Regional Medical Center as an Administrative Fellow. In late 2013, Austin was given to opportunity to become the CEO of Genoa Medical Facilities (GMF), located in Genoa, Nebraska. In 2015, Austin became the CEO of Clay County Medical Center (CCMC), located in Clay Center, Kansas. CCMC is a 25 bed CAH with three RHC’s and 300 employees.
This week we’re having a conversation with John Henderson. John has been the CEO at Childress Regional Medical Center, his hometown hospital in Childress, Texas, for 16 years. Soon he will be moving to Austin, Texas, to serve as the President & CEO or the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, otherwise known as TORCH. TORCH is an advocate for the 163 small hospitals in Texas.
“When we got really good is when we stopped making excuses.”
John served as the chair of the TORCH board in 2011, and also served a board chair for the Texas Hospital Association in 2016.
John is also a husband and father of three children.
This week we’re having a conversation with Evalyn Ormand, CEO at Union General Hospital in Farmerville, LA. Farmerville is in the northeast part of Louisiana, about 25 miles from the Arkansas border. This year marks Evalyn’s 40th year in healthcare administration. During those 40 years, she has served two rural hospitals, approximately 20 miles apart.
“Don’t swallow a camel and gag on a gnat.”
The first hospital she started her career was at Shirlington Memorial Hospital in Shirlington, LA. Shirlington Memorial was started in the ’60s by a physician and his wife who was an RN. They worked together until he died unexpectedly. Their two sons returned after his death and one took over the hospital as the administrator, the other was the doctor. They hired Evalyn to work in administration.
Evalyn started her journey as an administrative assistant, bookkeeper, payroll clerk, insurance clerk and any other job that he needed to be done. There were two women in administration, Evalyn and another, and they ran the entire business office.
Ten years later, Evalyn was promoted to CEO.
Shirlington Memorial was taken over by a larger facility who then asked Evalyn if she would consider filling the position as CEO for both Shirlington Memorial and Union General. For over seven years, she would spend the morning at one hospital and the afternoon in the other hospital. Shirlington Memorial ended up closing, and Evalyn has been CEO of Union General for the past 25 years.