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”
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.
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.”
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
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, 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.
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 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.
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.