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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: 2024
Jul 16, 2024

On this week’s episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we talk to a physician who came out of retirement to rekindle his passion for rural healthcare at a critical access hospital in Kemmerer, Wyoming. Dr. David Alcindor shares his incredible journey, from his childhood in France to his volunteer work in rural nations across the world, as well as the U.S. as a traveling ED physician. David is Chief of Staff at South Lincoln Hospital District and practices in Emergency Medicine and Med-Surg.

“It’s a small system, you could to the CEO, CFO, COO, CNO in the same hallway – or you could visit them in their homes…everything is approachable, everything is scalable.”

– Dr. David Alcindor

David grew up in Paris, France, and moved to the U.S. to start studies focused on helping disadvantaged persons, first by obtaining a degree in architecture and pursing research in housing for the poor. Construction research in a developing Caribbean nation led David to cross paths with rural medical volunteers. In joining them, he discovered that medicine had far greater impact in addressing not just poor living standards but impacting the health of each individual.

After completing medical school, David volunteered in the US Air Force as a medical officer, served on the war front and returned to civilian life to focus exclusively on the health of land laborers (miners, farmers and ranchers) in remote, rural America. After nearly 20 years of being a traveling rural ED physician across the U.S., David and his wife decided to settle in Kemmerer, Wyoming. David first traveled to work in Kemmerer at SLHD emergency department in February 2022. He has since joined the hospital's executive leadership team on a full-time basis with a plan to gradually assume various departmental directorships.

Jul 9, 2024

This week’s episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio continues our series of exploring the Policy Papers of NRHA’s 2023 Rural Health Fellows. In this conversation, we talk to Lex Pierre and Jeff Dunbar who researched the intricacies of long-term care in rural healthcare. The pair broke their paper down into financing, staffing, and regulations to uncover the importance, possibilities, and difficulties of supporting long-term care in rural areas.

“Bringing awareness is the main thing and it's great that we have all these different avenues and different ways of doing it..”

– Lex Pierre

Jeff has been in the healthcare field for nearly 30 years in a range of roles from Sales to HR in pharmaceuticals, medical device, dental, fitness, and telemedicine. Currently and for the last 15 years he’s been running a telemedicine company providing physician services to rural and critical access hospitals. He derives great satisfaction providing access through technology to critical care specialists, hospitalists, infectious disease, and cardiology physicians that aren’t available to patients locally. He lives in N.CA wine country with his wife, three daughters, and golden retriever. When not working he’s usually on a bicycle in the mountains or on a country road.

As Director of Dentistry for Chambers Health, Lex is responsible for overseeing all operations within the dental department. He has been committed to providing superior dental care to underserved areas since graduating from dental school. His focus remains on addressing rural oral health disparities by increasing and promoting oral health access. Lex earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Alabama State University and his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry. He is currently pursuing fellowships within the Academy of General Dentistry and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Lex travels nationally to attend the best continued educations to stay up to date with all the innovation within the dental field.    

Jul 2, 2024

Continuing our series on NRHA’s 2023 Fellows and Policy Papers, this week we’re talking to another group of Fellows that explored pediatric vaccination rates in rural America. Nitika Moibi, Andrea Stephenson, and Cynthia Calixte each touch on the current state of pediatric vaccination rates from the unique perspectives of a provider, through the lens of data, workforce and access, as well as community trust. The Fellows share personal experiences, historical data and information, as well as the importance of increasing these rates and tactics to make a difference.

“If you don’t have trust in your healthcare provider, then progress can't be made and you're not going to get the good care that you deserve. So please advocate for that and find a healthcare provider that you trust and can have these conversations with.”

– Dr. Cynthia Calixte

Cynthia Calixte, MD, MPH serves the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland as a Family Physician and the Physician Deputy for Wicomico County and Somerset County Health Departments. She works part-time at Menocal Family Practice in Salisbury, Maryland. Dr. Calixte graduated from SUNY Downstate Medical College in Brooklyn, NY, and completed her residency at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.  After residency, she obtained her Masters in Public Health from CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy in New York.  As a provider, she addresses the health inequities in her community.  She also understands the importance of preventive care and health education.  She is committed to educating her rural community on healthy lifestyle and chronic disease management.

Andrea Stephenson-Royster, MBA, MHA is the Chief Executive Officer of the Lake Okeechobee Rural Health Network (LORHN), one of nine rural health networks established by the Florida state legislature. Mrs. Stephenson-Royster is committed to the residents, providers, and community partners that form the rural communities around Lake Okeechobee. She has developed a solid knowledge base of issues and trends in healthcare and human services during her 20 years in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, and has served on community committees and the board of directors of several nonprofit organizations in the fields of aging, health care, child welfare, community partnerships, and mental health.

Nitika Moibi works for the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Rural Health and Primary Care. She oversees statewide collection and analysis of data on Minnesota’s healthcare workforce and directs research on workforce availability, distribution and emerging trends to inform workforce policies and investments. Her background includes health services research and rulemaking. Nitika received her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Human Resource Management from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and her graduate degree in public policy from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

Jun 25, 2024

On this week’s episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we kick off a series focused on NRHA’s 2023 Rural Health Fellows and their policy papers. The first group we chatted with includes Lisa Rantz, Kevin Lambing, and Dr. Carrie Shaver who had the task of examining Medicare Advantage. In our conversation we discuss the intricacies, impacts, as well as personal experiences that the Fellows uncovered in their research.

“Get involved and advocate and educate on these issues. It will require all of us working together to create the change in policy and funding mechanisms that we need to ensure that our rural Healthcare is supported and continues to be strong.”

– Dr. Carrie Shaver

Kevin Lambing serves as the Senior Program Officer for Health at the T.L.L. Temple Foundation. In this role, he helps ensure East Texas children, adults, and families are healthy and have access to quality healthcare. He organizes and convenes stakeholders and develops community partnerships with potential health related grantees in East Texas, consisting of 22 rural counties and one primarily urban county, Harris County and Miller County, Arkansas (Texarkana area). In addition, he monitors federal and state legislation related to health with intentions for future gaps in funding health resources in rural East Texas.

Kevin’s 30-plus-year career in the Air Force culminated in his service as the Senior Advisor to the Air Force Surgeon General. In this role he defined, shaped, and executed health care policy in support of 45,000 personnel at 75 medical treatment facilities around the globe, ensuring a cost effective, patient-centered, and prevention-based healthcare continuum for 2.6M beneficiaries. He earned an Associate of Applied Science degree from the Community College of the Air Force, Bachelor of Science degree from Wayland Baptist University, a Master’s of Business Administration degree from Webster University and is a 2023 National Rural Health Association Fellow. He is married to his wife Sheliea and they have 2 children, Noah and Lydia.

Lisa Rantz is the Executive Director of Hilo Medical Center Foundation which serves as the Hawaii Island Area Health Education Center, focusing on health career recruitment from K-12 to graduate medical education. She is the President of the Hawaii State Rural Health Association and in 2023 joined the National Rural Health Association Board of Trustees. Lisa is a 2023 NRHA Fellow and has over fifteen years of experience in facilitation and focus groups in education and health care, Lisa has developed impactful programs to address rural health challenges and advocate for community needs. Her accolades include the 2020 Small Business Advocate of the Year, the 2021 Peacemaker Award, the 2022Athena Leadership Award, the 2023 Community Star recognition for Hawaii, and the 2024 NRHA Volunteer of the Year award.

Dr. Shaver is an Assistant Professor of Health Management and Leadership at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and a founding member of the New Mexico Rural Health Association. Dr. Shaver has a strong background in the social service sector and has experience administering disease prevention, treatment, and health and wellness programs. She endeavors to bridge gaps between traditional silos in healthcare and foster collaboration among healthcare professionals through Systems Thinking. By embracing this holistic framework, she aims to contribute to the development of sustainable, inclusive, and equitable healthcare systems. Dr. Shaver’s research centers around understanding and addressing the unique healthcare challenges faced by rural and frontier communities along the United States-Mexico border and countries within Latin America and the Caribbean.

Jun 18, 2024

Medical residency in a rural area is one of the key influencing factors for providers to stay and continue practicing in a rural area. This week on Rural Health Leadership Radio we are talking to Yoana Cruz, Clerkship and Sub-Internship Coordinator in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. We talk with Yoana about the growing need for more providers in rural healthcare, and how she is bringing awareness to the need with up-and-coming medical students and working to connect those students with rural residencies. 

“Although I may not be the person that gives direct care for patients, I hope to encourage medical professionals at an early stage of their career to provide the best quality care for patients.” 

– Yoana Cruz

Born and raised in southwest Kansas, Yoana Cruz grew up in a welcoming community, full of hard-working immigrant families from more than thirty countries. Despite its rich heritage and tolerant culture, this agrarian city has many health disparities due to its growing number of immigrants and political refugees. The regional healthcare delivery system is slow to react to the complex medical and social needs of these diverse groups. Yoana’s own experiences with barriers to utilizing the healthcare delivery system as a child of immigrants have informed her perspective on health equity and motivated her to pursue mission-driven work in healthcare administration. 

Yoana has 6+ years of project planning experience in the healthcare setting while previously working at Kearny County Hospital, Cerner Corporation, and now at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is a 1st generation academic student where she received her BBA from Fort Hays State University and recently graduated in May 2024 in her Master of Health Services Administration from the University of Kansas Medical Center. In her spare time, she holds professional development workshops for undergraduate students pursuing business or healthcare-related careers. 

Jun 11, 2024

This week on Rural Health Leadership Radio we’re talking to Karen Brown, Revenue Cycle Director at Mountrail County Medical Center. Karen shares the intricacies of revenue cycle, particularly in rural hospitals, and how revenue cycle professionals can work to maximize their efforts. Karen also shares the work she does coaching her staff on revenue cycle matters and offers advice for other rural healthcare financial leaders dealing with similar challenges.

“In rural hospitals, we wear so many hats that sometimes you could have one on and walk through the door and it has to change. Just give yourself some grace…” 

– Karen Brown 

Karen Brown is currently the Revenue Cycle Director for Mountrail County Medical Center. She is originally from Chicago and attended Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Karen enjoys bowling, golfing, and working puzzles.

Jun 4, 2024

On this week’s episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we talk to Nick Derusha, Director and Health Officer of the LMAS District Health Department in Newberry, Michigan. Nick gives us a glimpse into what life was like for a rural district health department before, during, and after the pandemic and tells us about the lessons learned from that journey. Nick also shares the impact and importance of leadership development and growth for his organization’s culture, community, and leadership team. 

“Your organization will become a reflection of you….So I would leave people with that insight, and also treat your employees well and take care of your communities.”

-Nick Derusha

I was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I am married with four daughters. I enjoy hunting, fishing, football, hockey, and spending time with my family. I am a Registered Environmental Health Specialist, have a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Health from Ferris State University, Graduate Certificate in the Foundations of Public Health from the University of Michigan and Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Northern Michigan University. I have been the Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department (LMAS) Director and Health Officer since 2009. I was President of the Michigan Association of Local Public Health 2020-2022, I am Treasurer of the Helen Newberry Joy Hospital Bandmember the Michigan Center for Rural Health Board of Directors, Co-Chair of the Michigan Local Public Health Accreditation Commission and appointed to the Michigan Public Health Advisory Council.

May 29, 2024

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we are happy to welcome Norberto Orellana, the Public Relations Lead at Campbell County Health in Gillette, Wyoming. Norberto shares his inspiring journey from overcoming personal challenges, including cerebral palsy and homelessness, to influencing rural healthcare through public relations. The episode highlights Norberto’s approach to leadership, which focuses on empowerment and utilizing personal narratives to inspire change and build trust within the community.

“A large part of public relations is getting that message out there. Sharing and cheering what we're doing, where we hope to be, where we're going”

- Norberto Orellana

Norberto Orellana defies the odds with a life marked by resilience. Born with cerebral palsy, he rose above chronic homelessness and is on a meteoric rise. His journey, characterized by unwavering belief in individual potential, has inspired countless others at TEDx events and speaking engagements across the country. Devoted to community and civic engagement, Norberto is an advocate for rural healthcare. An aspiring critical access hospital CEO, Norberto hopes to contribute to sustainability and innovation in rural healthcare by serving and inspiring others. To Norberto, success is a duty, obligation, and responsibility – and though Norberto has already come far, he is only just getting started.

 

May 21, 2024

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, Dr. Bill Auxier reflects on his recent experience at the Coaching and Leadership in Healthcare event co-hosted by Harvard Medical School, the Institute of Coaching, and McLean Hospital. He discusses the concept of "intelligent failure" as presented by Harvard Professor Amy Edmondson, emphasizing the importance of distinguishing intelligent failures, which are well-considered and lead to valuable learnings, from mere sloppy mistakes. The discussion explores how embracing intelligent failures can foster innovation and growth within organizations and the pivotal role of leadership particularly in rural settings.

“Intelligent failure happens all the time. It happens in science, in industry innovation projects, in sports, and even in ordinary life." 

-Dr. Bill Auxier

"The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth" by Amy Edmondson is a pivotal guide for fostering an environment where innovation and engagement are forefront. This book argues that the traditional workplace culture of conformity and silence is detrimental in today's knowledge-driven economy. Instead, it champions a culture where it's safe to share ideas, ask questions, and admit mistakes. 

Edmondson presents practical strategies for creating psychological safety, enhancing team performance, and encouraging the open exchange of ideas to fuel innovation and growth. The book offers a blueprint for leaders looking to nurture a climate of transparency and openness, ensuring that every team member feels valued and heard, thereby driving organizational success. You can purchase a copy of the book here: The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth: Edmondson, Amy C.: 9781119477242: Amazon.com: Books

May 14, 2024

When you think about rural healthcare, you may not think about Scotland, but Scotland has some very rural areas that deal with similar issues we deal with in rural America.  Hear about what they are doing in rural Scotland to deliver health and wellbeing to their residents, by listening to our conversation with Dr. Emma Watson, 2021-22 U.K. Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice Deputy Medical Director at NHS Highland.

“NHS Highland delivers integrated health and social care, so it is not just about illness.”

~Dr. Emma Watson

Dr. Emma Watson MSc, FRCPath, FRCPEd is a 2020-21 UK Harkness Fellow in Healthcare Policy and Practice.  A Consultant Medical Microbiologist by background and a senior clinical systems leader in Scotland, she is an expert in quality improvement and in medical education and workforce planning.  Emma is Deputy Medical Director in NHS Highland which is, geographically, one of the largest and most sparsely populated combined health and social care systems in the UK.  She is also a senior medical adviser in the Scottish Government.  In both roles her focus is on developing innovative approaches to ensuring equitable access to high quality health care services with a sustainable healthcare workforce, particularly in remote and rural areas.  

Emma has led a number of major change programs including the development of Scotland’s first graduate entry medical school.  Emma previously held a post in the Scottish Government as Clinical Lead for the Scottish Patient Safety Program during which time she ensured quality improvement methodology translated from the development of health policy and strategy through to implementation across the entirety of the Scottish healthcare system.  Scotland was the first country in the world to implement a patient safety program on a whole system basis at national level.  As Director of Medical Education in NHS Highland she focused on the delivery of high quality medical education as a tool to increase recruitment and attract young doctors to the region as well as ensuring there is now an established programme to encourage young people from the area to go to medical school.  During the COVID-19 pandemic she led the clinical response in her region and ensured there was a whole system approach to manage the impact of the virus.  

May 7, 2024

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, Michael Hassell, CEO of Melissa Memorial Hospital in Colorado, discusses his journey from paramedic to hospital executive. Hassell discusses his strategic focus on community-centric initiatives, like enhancing local orthopedic services and integrating telemedicine. He also shares insights on effective collaboration through the Eastern Plains Health Consortium, underscoring the value of collective action in addressing rural healthcare challenges.

“Being rural should be seen less as a location and more like a proclamation of our dedication to creating stronger, sustainable healthcare.”

-Michael Hassel

Michael Hassell is the CEO of Melissa Memorial Hospital in Holyoke, Colorado. His experience includes roles in healthcare leadership, incident command, and consulting. Notable positions include Deputy Incident Commander for Region 7 All Hazards Incident Command in Florida during the COVID-19 crisis. He has also held management positions at various healthcare facilities, demonstrating expertise in leadership development, operations, safety, emergency management, and service line expansion. 

Michael is a Fellow for the American College of Healthcare Executives, holds a certification from the National Rural Health Association, and an adjunct professor for Regis University.  He holds a Bachelor's of Science and Master of Business Administration and enjoys camping and spending time with his two daughters. 

Apr 30, 2024

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, Kevin Stansbury, CEO of Lincoln Community Hospital in Colorado, shares his diverse and extensive experience in healthcare, including his time working internationally and his transition into rural healthcare leadership. He emphasizes the critical role of rural hospitals in providing essential services and the personal connections that enhance community healthcare. Kevin passionately advocates for more significant investment in rural healthcare infrastructure and policies that support the sustainability and advancement of health services in rural areas.

“The people who work in rural and frontier healthcare, we're so connected to our communities... It's that connection with community that is delightful and really reassuring”

-Kevin Stansbury

Kevin Stansbury serves as the CEO at Lincoln Health in Hugo, CO. Kevin has over 35 years in healthcare, primarily in community hospitals.  He has served in roles in hospital administration, strategic planning, healthcare project planning and service in emerging economies.  His work has taken him not only across the United States but all over the globe, including Bangladesh, Botswana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.  He serves on the Executive Committee of the Colorado Hospital Association Board of Trustees as Immediate Past Chair. He has also served on various State and National task forces supporting rural health. 

Recently Mr. Stansbury was appointed by Governor Polis to the Colorado Option Advisory Committee.  He also serves on the Colorado e-Health Commission. Mr. Stansbury is a founding member of the Eastern Plains Health Consortium.  He received his BS in Business Administration from the University of Wyoming; MS in Health Services Administration from Central Michigan University and he received his JD with honors from the University of Wyoming College of Law. Kevin and his wife Jennifer have three grown children, a daughter in Castle Rock with one of their grandchildren, a daughter and son-in-law in Firestone, Colorado with their other five grandchildren; and a son who lives in Wichita, Kansas

Apr 22, 2024

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, hosted by Bill Auxier and Sydney Grant, guest Kristen Juliar, a capital resources consultant with the National Organization for State Offices of Rural Health, discusses her journey into rural healthcare. In our discussion with Kristin, she talks about the importance of understanding rural healthcare needs and highlights various successful partnerships and projects that integrate healthcare with broader community services. Kristin helps rural communities sustain healthcare services by engaging partnerships and accessing capital resources.

“There is a ton of expertise out there, so don’t be afraid to tap into that”

-Kristin Juliar

Kristin Juliar is a seasoned consultant with the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, where she leads the Rural Health Capital Resources Council and Center. She has an extensive background in rural health and community development, having previously directed the Montana Office of Rural Health and the Montana Area Health Education Center at Montana State University for 16 years. Before her tenure in Montana, she directed Minnesota's Healthcare Education-Industry Partnership and served as Executive Director of a rural development organization. Juliar is actively involved in various national rural health committees, including the Executive Committee of the National Rural Health Resource Center and the AHA Population and Community Health Advisory Committee. She holds an M.A. in Urban and Regional Studies.

Apr 15, 2024

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, hosted by Dr. Bill Auxier and Sydney Grant, we welcome another young rural health leader, Alana Monson Administrative Fellow at Trinity Health in Des Moines, Iowa. Just months after graduating with a Master's in Health Administration, Alana found herself in the role of interim CEO at Manning Regional Healthcare Center, a critical access hospital close to her hometown in Iowa. 

In our conversation, she discusses how she rapidly transitioned her leadership skills, adapting to the role thanks to a lot of trust from her team. Her story is a testament to the potential for young leaders to make significant contributions to healthcare in rural settings.

“If you were ever facing a challenge or responsibility that might seem daunting to you, just do it because your future will thank you for the growth”

-Alana Monson

Alana Monson is an administrative fellow with Trinity Health – MercyOne in Des Moines, Iowa and recently served as Interim Chief Executive Officer for Manning Regional Healthcare Center in Manning, Iowa. Alana grew up in rural Western Iowa and graduated from the University of Iowa with her Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting in 2020 and Master of Health Administration in 2023. 

While pursuing her graduate degree, she worked with classmates to form the Student Association for Rural Health. In addition to her experience as CEO at a critical access hospital, Alana also has experience working for a Medicare administrative contractor, an academic medical center, a health system, and serving on the Iowa Rural Health Association board.

Apr 9, 2024

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, Aidan Hettler, CEO of Sedgwick County Health Center, shares his unique journey from a recent college graduate with a background in supply chain management to becoming the CEO of a rural hospital at the age of 22. We discuss the importance of servant leadership and the impact young people can have in rural healthcare even without significant experience. Aidan shares the highlights of his role as CEO including the growth of services and his role in the community.

Rural America is a really good place to work if you are young and aspiring to make a really big impact." 

- Aidan Hettler

Aidan Hettler is a Pittsburgh native, who moved to Colorado for his college education. Aidan is now the CEO of Sedgwick County Health Center (SCHC), a critical access hospital system serving a rural community on the Colorado Eastern Plains and extending into neighboring Nebraska. As the largest employer in Sedgwick County, SCHC not only offers crucial medical services through its clinics, long-term care facilities, and a critical-access hospital but also sustains the economic vitality of the region. Aidan’s vision extends beyond his immediate responsibilities, aspiring to collaborate with like-minded professionals and organizations to innovate and champion a rural healthcare landscape where quality care is a universal right, not a privilege limited by geography.

Apr 2, 2024

Capital funding plays a crucial role in the success of rural hospitals. This week, we feature Brian Haapala, CEO of Stroudwater Capital Partners, who is at the forefront of assisting rural healthcare organizations in overcoming the hurdles of securing capital funding. Brian emphasizes the pivotal role of healthcare in small communities and shares his dedication to empowering these communities to drive healthcare improvements from within. 

Our discussion with Brian sheds light on the significance of updating rural healthcare infrastructure. He provides insights into effective strategies for obtaining funding and implementing capital improvement projects in rural environments, underscoring the transformative impact these investments can have on community health support and rural economic vitality.

“Rural Healthcare is the cornerstone of rural economies”

-Brian Haapala

Brian is the CEO of Stroudwater Capital Partners helping improve access to capital for rural health care providers nationally. He is passionate about creating solutions to improve rural healthcare through capital investment, and he guides leaders through the process of securing capital through the rural challenges of limited resources. Brian has over 25 years of experience as an advisor and investment banker to rural health systems and has planned and/or financed over $1.5 billion in rural capital investments over this time. He holds a master’s degree in health services administration from the University of Michigan.

Mar 26, 2024

On Rural Health Leadership Radio, we are always discussing innovation in rural healthcare, and this week our conversation is through the lens of the new Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) model. We are delighted to welcome Anna Anna who serves as the Program Director at the Rural Health Redesign Center (RHRCO) and works to promote access to quality healthcare in rural communities.  In our conversation, Anna discusses the REH model and shares her insights on how hospitals can make a successful conversion, and what it means to their communities. Learn more about how organizations like RHRC can help rural hospitals on their website here!

“Although the Rural Emergency Hospital’s Designation is new, it’s already saved hospitals from closure”

-Anna Anna 

Anna Anna is a transformational leader and Registered Nurse with 30 years of experience in rural healthcare. Anna’s position at the Rural Health Redesign Center includes the role of Program Director for the Rural Emergency Hospital Technical Assistance Center. In her role, Anna works directly with hospitals throughout the country exploring the Rural Emergency Hospital as a possible pathway to maintain healthcare in their communities. Before this role, Anna held positions in hospital leadership for over 20 years, including Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Executive Officer. Anna has a Master's in Healthcare Administration and is a Board Certified Nurse Executive

Mar 19, 2024

Looking to test your knowledge of rural health? This episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio is exactly what you need! Join Sydney and Bill as they put their rural health expertise to the test with a series of trivia questions. Covering topics from community health workers to rural health clinics, this episode is full of learning. Listen in, play along, and see how much you know about rural health.

“This was a wonderful way to learn. Good conversations, learning, and research were done by all of us today.”

Sydney Grant

Mar 12, 2024

Securing a healthier future for rural communities begins with the engagement of our younger generations. This week, we're thrilled to host three emerging leaders on Rural Health Leadership Radio: Jenah McCarty, Hallie Vonk, and Nick Lembezeder. These graduate students from the University of Iowa's College of Public Health share their journey in founding the inaugural Student Association for Rural Health (SARH) and outline the organization's objectives. Throughout the episode, they reflect on SARH's influence on themselves and their peers and offer guidance for students aspiring to establish similar organizations.

“The Student Association for Rural Health is reinvigorating individual’s passion for rural health, and sharing that passion with the next generation of leaders so we can create a better future for rural health”

-Hallie Vonk

Nick is a second-year Master of Public Health of Public Health student at the University of Iowa and Co-Programming and Events chair for the SARH. He is from Peosta, Iowa, and spent four years in Decorah Iowa completing his bachelor’s in Classical Studies and Biology at Luther College. This fall Nick will be attending the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine and hopes to practice medicine in rural Iowa.

Jenah McCarty is a Master of Public Health and Master of Health Administration student at the University of Iowa, and President of SARH. She is also an intern with Rural Health Leadership Radio. Jenah completed her undergraduate at the University of Iowa in Public Health and Human Relations. Jenah grew up in rural Iowa, which sparked her passion for rural health.

Hallie Vonk is a Master of Health Administration student at the University of Iowa and Co-Programming and Events chair for the SARH. She was raised in Hinton, Iowa, and completed her undergraduate degree in Health and Human Physiology at the University of Iowa. Hallie found an interest in rural health during her graduate program, highlighting the advantage of personal connections in rural communities.

Mar 5, 2024

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, Karen Cheeseman, CEO of Mackinac Straits Health System in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, shares her journey from an HR role to leading a hospital system. In our discussion with Karen, she highlights collaborative relationships in the communities Mackinac Straights Health System serves including how they integrate tribal medicine into a small hospital. Karen shares the story of a newly built facility thanks to innovative ideas and a land donation by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. 

“We’re addressing the care needs in a very comprehensive way in the community, including tribal medicine” 

-Karen Cheeseman

Karen has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mackinac Straits Health System since 2017.  Previously, Karen worked for the health system for many years and held various leadership roles including the Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Human Resource Officer.  Karen holds a master's degree in Organizational Management from Spring Arbor University and a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management from Michigan State University.  Karen currently serves on the Michigan Health and Hospital Association Board of Directors.  She has served as the Upper Peninsula Hospital Council Chair, the Small and Rural Health Council, and the Legislative Policy Panel for MHA.  Karen is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Feb 27, 2024

On this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we welcome Elise Bur, Director of the Northern Michigan University Center for Rural Health. In our conversation, Elise discusses several key initiatives of the Center for Rural Health, including the feasibility of a dental hygienist program to address local needs, an oral health literacy program, and community health worker training to expand essential services. Elise also discusses an innovative Community Paramedicine education program aimed at delivering more comprehensive care to patients in their homes. 

“If we can home grow our own, you are more likely to retain them in our rural community”

-Elise Bur

Elise joined Northern Michigan University in July 2020 as the inaugural director of the NMU Center for Rural Health. She has more than thirty years of combined experience working in higher education and the healthcare industry. Elise is extremely dedicated to identifying, understanding, and addressing regional health care needs through collaborative efforts. The foundation of her professional success can be attributed to building relationships and partnering with agencies and businesses on initiatives that improve the health and well-being of individuals. Additionally, she is extremely passionate about giving regional residents a voice by sharing challenges and success with local, state, and federal legislators which continues to result in new and ongoing support for regional, state, and national health-related matters.

Feb 20, 2024

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking with Frank Brabec, CEO of Brabec Healthcare Management and President of the Imperial Valley Coalition for Sustainable Healthcare Facilities in California. We discuss the significance of community collaboration and how rural communities can come together to face health challenges. Frank shares more about the Imperial Valley Coalition for Sustainable Healthcare Facilities and the unique way they are serving surrounding communities. Brabec emphasizes the critical role of leadership in rural healthcare success, advocating for continuous self-improvement, and working together with community partners. 

“Leadership is the number one determinant of rural hospital success. I’ve seen evidence of that over and over. “

- Frank Brabec

Frank Brabec is a seasoned healthcare professional with a varied background spanning from his beginnings as an orderly in surgery to leadership roles in hospital and physician practice operations. Since 2008, he has excelled in healthcare management and consulting, consistently delivering solutions that have improved operations and generated millions in increased margins. He has a strong commitment to continuous learning, evident in his recent completion of the NRHA Rural Hospital CEO Certification Program. Frank is a recurring speaker at multiple conferences, and has been a Medical Group Management Association, Certified Medical Practice Executive since 2009.

Feb 13, 2024

This Rural Health Leadership Radio episode features a conversation with Dr. Matt Seeger,  Distinguished University Professor at Wayne State University, who has extensively studied organizational behavior, communication, and crisis management and response. Dr. Seeger shares his unique story as an undergraduate student deeply affected by a tragedy and how that led him to become a leading expert in crisis communication. We discuss the critical role of leadership in navigating crises, especially in rural communities. If you want to learn more about crisis and emergency communication check this website out: https://emergency.cdc.gov/cerc/

“It’s really the whole community that is going to facilitate an effective crisis response”

-Matthew W. Seeger, Ph.D.

 Matthew W. Seeger, Ph.D., a Distinguished University Professor of Communication and Dean Emeritus, is renowned for his expertise in crisis and emergency risk communication, particularly in the context of infectious disease outbreaks, health promotion, and resilience and renewal post-crisis. His significant contributions include working closely with the CDC, the National Center for Food Protection and Defense, and being a part of the WHO Guidelines Development Group for Emergency Risk Communication. Dr. Seeger's research, supported by the CDC, NSF, NIH, and the State of Michigan, has led to over 200 publications, including the CDC's Handbook for Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication. 

He has also authored several influential books on crisis communication and risk management. A founding editor of The Journal of International Crisis and Risk Communication Research, Seeger's insights have been featured in major media outlets. He is a Fellow of the International Communication Association, and a member of the Wayne State University Academy of Scholars. He has received numerous awards for his service and scholarship in communication, including induction into the Public Relations Society of America, Detroit Chapter, and Hall of Fame.

Feb 6, 2024

This week, we are discussing how executive coaching can be used as a tool for rural health leaders to live up to their highest potential. On this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio Bill & Sydney bring us back to our mission to engage rural health leaders in conversations, learning, and research. 

“Coaching can make an incredible difference, make the investment!”

-Bill Auxier

We discuss leadership development, and how coaching can play an important role in that. Bill highlights the research on the impacts of coaching on the workforce, emphasizing the enhanced resilience and retention for rural health leaders. If you are interested in coaching send us an email bill@billauxier.com and sydney@billauxier.com.

Jan 30, 2024

Rural communities in the U.S. are diverse, full of innovation, and each face their own unique health challenges. In this episode, we discuss some less commonly discussed rural health topics with Amy Elizondo, the Chief Strategy Officer for the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). In our conversation we discuss topics such as oral health, the scarcity of dentists in rural areas, behavioral health, substance abuse, and the health concerns of the rural indigenous population Amy highlights some of the amazing work being coordinated through the NRHA to address these health issues in rural communities, both through initiatives and health policy advocacy. Check out the NRHA’s Faces of Rural video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXpJ4fXRakU

“Rural communities are far more diverse than anyone could ever imagine, truly that is where innovation can happen.”

-Amy Elizondo

Amy Elizondo serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), a non-profit membership organization with the mission to provide leadership on rural health issues to improve access to care. Ms. Elizondo received a Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education from Texas A&M University in 2000 and a Master of Public Health in Social and Behavioral Health from the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, School of Rural Public Health in 2002. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Public Health at the University of Illinois Chicago.

 Before joining the NRHA, Ms. Elizondo served as the primary analyst for rural health care and post-acute care issues at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services within the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This position afforded her the opportunity to work as a liaison with Congress during the landmark passing of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, also known as the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. She also completed a fellowship at the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy where she took part in implementing a rural leadership program.

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