On this week’s episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking to a nurse trying to make a difference in the Appalachian region. Robyn Seamon has earned advanced degrees, studied, and conducted research to help prepare her to serve Appalachian residents.
“The Appalachian region has the highest number of every chronic disease we look at.”
Robyn is a Certified Transcultural Nurse who is passionate about seeing the health of people radically transformed in the Appalachian Region. Facilitating improvement in the high rates of health disparities in the Appalachian Region is her heartfelt desire. As a Registered Nurse for over 35 years, she has had many diverse experiences, including hospital nursing, home health and hospice, a startup clinic at a homeless shelter, and various volunteer experiences.
Robyn holds a Master of Arts degree in Appalachian Studies. She is the owner of Appalachian Healthcare Training & Consulting and regularly provides Appalachian-focused professional development workshops and consultation services.
On this week’s episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about the importance of community engagement. Jessica Fisher, CEO of Tri Valley Health System, shares what she and her leadership team have accomplished through community engagement, collaboration and the implementation of a few different change initiatives.
“The community is really what drives the additional services we need to offer.”
Jessica has a Master of Healthcare Administration from Bellevue University. She earned a Bachelor and Associates Degree from Fort Hays State University. Jessica also has a certification in Leadership, Human Resource Management and is a certified Phlebotomist through the American Society of Clinical Pathology. She comes to Tri Valley with a wealth of health care experience. Most recently she was the Director of Operations at Valley Hope Association, headquartered in her hometown of Norton, Kansas.
Valley Hope is an organization that provides residential and outpatient addiction treatment in seven states and 16 service locations. Prior to that Jessica was the Human Resources and Education Director at Cheyenne County Hospital in St. Francis, Kansas and was the Inpatient Clinical Services Manager at Hays Medical Center, in Hays, Kansas, while providing services to Pawnee Community Hospital in Larned, Kansas and St. Rose Medical Pavilion in Great Bend, Kansas. Jessica strongly believes in effective healthcare systems providing quality patient care with positive patient outcomes along with delivering cost-effective and affordable healthcare services.
This week’s episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio is a special episode to honor all our country’s veterans in honor of Veteran’s Day. Most VA hospitals are in metropolitan areas, making it difficult for veterans living in rural America to receive care there. With around half of our veterans living in rural America, that is just one of the challenges they face, access to care. This week we’re talking about that and more with the CEO of Coal County General Hospital, Trent Bourland. Trent served in the United States Air Force for 10 years and knows first-hand the challenges all rural residents face with it comes to access to care, particularly the challenges veterans are dealing with.
“Be patient with veterans as much as you can. A lot of them are frustrated because they don’t understand how the system works.”
Trent Bourland is the CEO of Coal County Healthcare Authority located in Coalgate, Ok., which operates a 20-bed critical access hospital, three rural health clinics, and a 75-bed long-term care facility. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force and has a master's degree in business from Southern Nazarene University.
If you’re not changing, not trying to look into the future, you’re not moving forward. When Josh Conlee became the CEO of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, he and his team looked at a variety of things: how they were doing, where the market was going, what they did well, and what they didn’t do very well. I hope you’ll listen in to our conversation.
“We are a proud community and we wanted to show people that we were moving forward in many ways.”
Josh Conlee earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Master of Business Administration from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. Additionally, he earned a Master of Health Services Administration from the University of Arkansas for Medical Science in Little Rock, Arkansas. Josh is currently the President of Lawrence Healthcare in Walnut Ridge, AR where his duties include the oversight of Lawrence Memorial Hospital and Lawrence Hall Health and Rehabilitation.
He previously held positions as the Administrative Director at UAMS North Central, Manager of Strategic Implementation, and Administrative Fellow at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Health Center. He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). He was the recipient of the 2019 ACHE Early Career Healthcare Executive Regent’s Award. Josh is married to his wife, Kailey, and they have two daughters, Stella and Avery.
The Rural Health Program is currently being launched in Tennessee, and it has a couple of different components. The first component is focused on the community by looking at ways to promote pharmacy practice in rural areas. The second component is focused on pharmacy students; exposing them to rural healthcare and engaging them in the delivery of quality healthcare in a rural setting. We are having that conversation with Tyler Melton, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Education & Rural Health, at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, College of Pharmacy.
“There are rural pharmacies anywhere you go in America and I think they’re underutilized.”
Tyler Melton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Translational Science at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), College of Pharmacy. He has nine years of pharmacy practice experience including inpatient and outpatient pharmacy in rural environments. Tyler joined UTHSC in September of 2020, after completing a postdoctoral research fellowship in Community Pharmacy Practice and Prescription Drug Abuse and earning his Master of Public Health from East Tennessee State University. His areas of research expertise include community pharmacy practice, rural health, health disparities, and prescription drug abuse.
Childhood trauma has an impact that lasts a lifetime. Trauma-focused treatment and trauma-informed care is critical, but oftentimes lacking in rural America. Southern Illinois is fortunate to be the home of the Stress and Trauma Treatment Center, where Dr. Matt Buckman and his team provide these services in multiple communities.
“This is the most important work that any of us can do.”
~Dr. Matt Buckman
Dr. Matt Buckman is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Executive Director of the Stress & Trauma Treatment Center. He also serves in various part-time leadership and consultative roles. Dr. Buckman is the PI of the Southern Illinois Resiliency Project at the Center. He is the Co-PI of the IL HEALS (Helping Everyone Access Linked Systems) Demonstration Site Project and Early Childhood System of Care Project under Egyptian Health Department, the Bullying Prevention/Trauma Responsive Schools initiative and the Trauma Based Behavioral Health Fellowship at the Center for Rural Health & Social Services Development within SIU’s School of Medicine, and the Southern Illinois Violence Prevention Project at the Illinois Association of Juvenile Justice Councils.
Throughout his roles, Dr. Buckman provides supervision, consultation, and training as well as direct services to children, teens, young adults, and families to help improve a variety of emotional and behavioral health issues. He has worked in various schools, medical, and clinical settings with a specialization in childhood trauma and certifications in Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Managing & Adapting Practices, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, and Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics. He has extensive experience working with victims of abuse and their families as they recover and heal from significant adversities and considers his work in this area to be his calling in life.
Click here to learn more about the Stress & Trauma Treatment Center.
We may not like to talk about it, but sexual assaults happen in rural America, and something needs to be done. In Tennessee, they are doing something! By way of a grant, an initiative is underway to provide funding for education, training, certification, and retention of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). SANE programs are designed to train nurses to address survivors' needs and provide trauma-informed care.
The 21 counties of West Tennessee have only five certified SANE nurses, four of whom practice in Shelby County. But the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation received nearly 1,600 reports of sexual assault in West Tennessee in 2019, indicating a significant shortage of nurses certified to meet the need for this care.
“The grant was awarded to increase the supply of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners in West Tennessee.”
~Linda Beasley, DNP, APRN, NP-C, RN
Lisa Beasley joined the UTHSC CON faculty in September 2020. Prior to joining UT, Lisa was previously at the University of Memphis Loewenberg College of Nursing for 10 years, serving as a Clinical Associate Professor and the Director of Clinical Education for the last 6 years of her time there. Lisa’s practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner has been in hospice and palliative care for the last 9 years serving patients in rural and underserved communities. Prior to becoming a nurse, Lisa enjoyed an 18-year career in the radio industry.
Click here to learn more about this program.
A little over 5 years ago, Hanover Hospital was on the brink of closing its doors. Turning things around was going to be a difficult and challenging journey but knowing how much the hospital meant to the community, a dedicated team of rural health workers turned things around.
“We were hanging on by a thread, just trying to figure out how to make payroll and keep the doors open.”
~Brittni Oehmke, CEO
Brittni is the Administrator at Hanover Hospital, located in Hanover, KS, where she has been for 5 years. She is also a Medical Laboratory Scientist and the current Lab Manager. Brittni has three beautiful children: Kaylee, Dalton and Cole. Her family loves animals, being outdoors and playing sports. Brittni also coaches high school girls’ basketball and is a Kentucky basketball fanatic.
Access to care in rural America is a recurring theme, particularly when it comes to cancer care. Transportation is one of the top challenges rural cancer patients must overcome to receive the treatment they need. But there are people trying to do something about that. One of those persons is Dr. Whitney Zahnd, and that’s one of the things we’re talking about in this week’s episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio.
“The best way to reduce cancer disparities and improve cancer rates is to prevent cancer or to find it earlier.”
~Whitney Zahnd, Ph.D.
Whitney Zahnd, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy in the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa. Her research employs health services research, social epidemiological, and spatial methods to address rural cancer disparities across the continuum and to evaluate access to health care services. Dr. Zahnd is a 2021 National Rural Health Association Rural Health Fellow and a board member with the Iowa Rural Health Association.
She is a full member of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center and a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN). Before joining the University of Iowa faculty, Dr. Zahnd completed post-doctoral training and served as research faculty at the Rural & Minority Health Research Center at the University of South Carolina. Prior to earning her doctorate in community health from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2018, she worked for eleven years as a master’s trained researcher at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine supporting rural health and cancer disparities research.
Would you like to become a more effective leader if it only took you 5 minutes a day? If that sounds like a winning idea to you, you need to listen to our conversation with Jo Anne Preston, author of Lead the Way in 5 Minutes a Day: Sparking High Performance in Yourself and Your Team.
“Healthcare workers have really been gutted because there has been so much stress, so much pressure.”
~Jo Anne Preston
Jo Anne Preston is the Workforce and Organizational Development Sr. Mgr. at the Rural WI Health Cooperative, where she brings over four decades of her healthcare leadership experience to designing and delivering leadership and employee education for rural healthcare throughout WI and the U.S. She has an M.S. in Educational Psychology/Community Counseling from Eastern Illinois University and is the author of Lead the Way in Five Minutes a Day: Sparking High Performance in Yourself and Your Team. She also writes a monthly leadership blog. Click here to order your copy of Lead the Way in Five Minutes a Day: Sparking High Performance in Yourself and Your Team.
Humble people doing great things is always inspirational. Prepare yourself to be inspired today by listening to our conversation with Walter Panzirer, Trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust. Having lived and worked in rural America, Walter immediately knew where he could make a difference and improve lives when he found out he had been named as a Trustee.
“We were given a blank slate to see how we can improve lives around the world.”
Walter Panzirer, is a grandson of Leona Helmsley. Raised in California, he adopted South Dakota as his home. Having worked as a first responder in both states, Walter witnessed personally the significant disparities in quality health care available close to home – disparities that demanded attention. Serving as a paramedic, firefighter, and police officer also made him acutely aware of the range of situations encountered by these professionals – from cardiac and stroke events, to individuals facing a mental health crisis.
Upon the death of his grandmother, Walter was to his great surprise named a Trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust. He realized the opportunity for investing in better healthcare for Americans in rural communities as well as for supporting communities across rural Africa to build resilience. A passionate advocate for telehealth, Walter is committed to shortening the distance between a medical emergency and life-saving treatment, including outfitting first responders with modern equipment for managing emergencies. His curiosity, coupled with a get-it-done acumen, means that he’s always looking for healthcare leapfrog opportunities that can be readily implemented.
Walter studied business and history at Black Hills State University, and pursued pastoral studies at MidAmerica Nazarene University. An inductee to American Telehealth Association’s College of Fellows as well the South Dakota Hall of Fame, Walter has served on a number of nonprofit and educational boards. He, his wife, and their family own and operate a hunting lodge in rural South Dakota.
This week we’re talking about the quality of care in rural America, antibiotic stewardship, taking care of cancer patients and rural hospital turnarounds. We’re having that conversation with Bob Milvet, CEO of Grant Memorial Hospital in Petersburg, West Virginia.
“What started out as a difficult conversation turned into a very meaningful discussion and dialog.”
Bob Milvet is the Chief Executive Officer at Grant Memorial Hospital in Petersburg, West Virginia. He has served in multiple, progressive leadership capacities since 1999 in the areas of Academic Medicine, Community Acute Care Hospitals, Physician Group Practices and Critical Access Hospitals. He is most passionate about rural medicine, and has led financial turnarounds, a new hospital construction project and merger transactions. In his new role as CEO, he is leading the development of a Cancer Center and multiple other renovation projects to greatly improve access to care in his 5-county service area.
Once again I ask, where will our future rural health leaders come from? And once again we have found one future rural health leader, this time in the state of New York. Her name is Emma Dening, and Emma is this year’s recipient of the Rural Health Leadership Radio Juanita Bartholomew Scholarship. The Juanita Bartholomew Scholarship was established to assist high school graduates who want to continue their education in a healthcare field with the goal of working in Rural America.
“Leadership is having the courage to speak against the most common opinion.”
Growing up in a county with more cows than people, Emma saw the epidemic facing rural youth, especially the population of young girls. Not COVID, rather losing confidence in themselves because of the expectations of their surroundings, many youth in her area surrendered their potential to the opinions of those around them.
Throughout high school, Emma captained her Varsity Basketball and Softball teams, lead her Cleats for Athletes program that provided in-need student-athletes with free sports equipment, co-coached several youth girls basketball teams, began a tutoring program and started a program connecting young athletes to their varsity teams, in hopes of inspiring the youth to take control of their own futures and be their own greatest activists.
This fall, she will be entering Le Moyne College’s 5-year Physician Assistant program, granting her a Master’s in Biology and her PA license. Initially, Emma committed to St. Lawrence University to further her basketball career with the intent of entering medical school before deciding a career as a PA better suited her desired lifestyle.
Where will our future rural health leaders come from? We have found one future rural health leader in Louisiana and we’re having a conversation with her. Her name is Ellyn Kate Boothe, and Ellyn Kate is the recipient of the Rural Health Leadership Radio Earl Bartholomew Scholarship. The Earl Bartholomew Scholarship was established to assist high school graduates who want to continue their education in a healthcare field with the goal of working in Rural America.
“My definition of leadership would be to carry yourself with grace and determination.”
~Elynn Kate Boothe
Elynn Kate Boothe is a recent graduate of Minden High School in Minden, Louisiana. She is an active member of her youth group at First Baptist Minden where she loves to fellowship and serve others in her community. In her free time, you can find her with a book, hanging out with family and friends, and online shopping. She is excited to be starting a new chapter in her life by attending Northwestern State University in the fall to pursue a degree in nursing.
How do you create a healthier rural community? Collaboration is certainly a key ingredient to making that happen, but how do you go about that? Dr. Sameer Vohra and his team of collaborators are trying to make a difference in rural Southern Illinois with the ‘Building a Healthier Rural Illinois’ initiative.
“People in rural areas were more likely before the pandemic to die from the five leading causes of death in America.”
~Dr. Sameer Vohra
Dr. Vohra was born and raised in Chicago and received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Northwestern University. He then went on to receive a dual degree from Southern Illinois University’s Medicine and Law Dual Degree Program, as well as traveling to India on a United States Department of State Fulbright Scholarship.
He has a passion for improving people’s health as well as the one-on-one connection that comes with being a physician, fueled by his desire to understand how he could work to improve society’s health. Dr. Vohra would go on to attend the University of Chicago where he was the first to follow the pediatric public policy track, where he trained as a general pediatrician and received advanced public policy training.
Dr. Sameer Vohra settled back into Southern Illinois University and began his journey into population health and science, taking steps to make a concrete difference in the communities he served. He was able to lead the creation of the Office of Population Science and Policy to determine if there would be support, funding, and interest in the community to launch the office as an academic department. The Department of Population Science and Policy was officially launched in July 2018, and is only one of 25 such departments in the country.
Oftentimes we feel like we cannot make a difference. We say to ourselves, “I’m only one voice. How can I make a difference? I work at a little hospital in the middle of nowhere, who’s going to listen to me” I’ve heard numerous rural health leaders say that or something similar. Yet I know firsthand that one voice can make a big difference.
“Small things make a big difference.”
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, explains how trends in behavior, marketing, or business have a ‘magic moment’ when they rapidly spread like an epidemic. He calls this moment the ‘tipping point.’ I thought it was appropriate to revisit this book with its epidemic analogy and the idea that little things can make a big impact.
Rural Health Leadership Radio was created to share rural health leadership best practices at no cost. Each week, we have a different rural health leader as a guest sharing what works, what they have tried that didn’t work, and the unique approaches they are implementing.
Thank you for listening!
This week on Rural Health Leadership Radio we are having a conversation with Dr. Hannah Wenger, a clinical care specialist on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, and faculty member at Massachusetts General Hospital. Hannah is a physician who is passionate about providing culturally relevant care to the residents of the community she serves.
“What does allopathic medicine have to do with a traditional ceremony like a sweat lodge? I would argue it has a lot to do with it”
~ Hannah Wenger M.D.
Hannah Wenger, MD, is a general internist and faculty member at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) having just completed MGH’s Fellowship Program in Rural Health Leadership. She obtained her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Notre Dame and her medical degree at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She then completed an internal medicine residency and a clinical medical ethics fellowship at the University of Chicago. As a rural health fellow at MGH, Dr. Wenger currently provides clinical care to the Sicangu Lakota Oyate on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Her interests include Two Spirit and LGBTQ health, hepatitis C, and clinical ethics.
This week on Rural Health Leadership Radio we’re talking about movement as medicine. We’re having that conversation with Dr. Anthony Fleg, Director of Running Medicine.
“Movement is something we as leaders, as health professionals, need to remember is one of our simplest outlets that life gives us.”
Dr. Fleg is a family physician who thinks of his work of healing as “occasionally done with a stethoscope, more often done in communities…done with youth and elders, done through art, language, culture, and love, and through listening more than through talking.” Through NHI, Dr. Fleg created the Running Medicine (www.runningmedicine.org) program in 2016, a unique approach to mind, body, and spiritual wellness through walking and running.
“Leadership is more about empowering people around you to see the best in themselves and to see their own ability to lead, to heal, and do for themselves.”
Dr. Fleg is also a co-founder of the Native Health Initiative (www.lovingservice.us), a partnership to address health inequities through loving service. He is also a faculty member at the University of New Mexico in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and in the College of Population Health. Dr. Fleg considers himself a love activist, grounded in a deep belief that love can serve as a vehicle toward equity, justice and social transformation. For more information about Dr. Fleg’s work, see the links below!
This week’s guest is Christian Curtis with the Fort Peck Tribes Health Promotion Disease Prevention program (HPDP). Christian is a registered nurse who started working with the Tribes in August 2015. Her plan to continue to work for this program to assist in providing medical services to children on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
“Anytime you work with a cultural group or a native population, it’s important to know their history and what they’ve gone through as a people.”
Christian grew up on the Fort Peck Reservation and is an enrolled member of the Tribe. She graduated from one of the High Schools on the reservation in 2011 and continued her education at the Fort Peck Community College. While a student there, she was given several opportunities to pursue a nursing career. In August 2012, she continued her undergraduate studies at Crown College in St. Bonifacius, MN, where she graduated in May 2015, with dual degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Christian Studies.
Christian chose to work for the HPDP program because of the unique opportunities to expand in providing services on the reservation. She loves the work and hopes to continue on this path in providing and enhancing healthcare for her community.
First, it was hurricane Elsa. Then it was tropical storm Elsa. Then it became hurricane Elsa once again, and the Rural Health Leadership Radio studio was right in the projected path. Then once again it became tropical storm Elsa. As you might imagine, it was a bit of a roller coaster ride, trying to figure out how to prepare for the situation you might face. Does this type of scenario sound familiar? That’s why we’re talking about leadership resilience today.
“The way you deal with difficult time is so important to leadership.”
Here is a link to the article referenced in this conversation: https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience
Rural Health Leadership Radio was created to share rural health leadership best practices at no cost. Each week we have a different rural health leader as a guest sharing what they are doing that works, what they have tried that didn’t work and unique approaches they are implementing.
Thank you for listening!
Rural Health Leadership Radio has been ‘on the air’ for five years! Starting with 24 downloads of the first episode, we are fast approaching 100,000. Over these last five years, rural health leaders from around the country have shared what is working, what is not working, definitions of leadership, and other best practices in rural healthcare leadership.
“I can’t believe we’ve been on the air for 5 years!”
Bill Auxier, Ph.D. helps successful rural health leaders achieve lasting positive behavioral change. He accomplishes that through rural health leadership development that includes consulting, coaching, training and research. He is experienced working with rural health leaders across the country to improve their organizations through more effective leadership, cultural transformation and strategic plan development.
Bill is the Program Director of the NRHA Rural Hospital CEO Certification Program, President and CEO of the Dynamic Leadership Academy™, and Executive Director of Rural Health Leadership Radio™, a 501(c)3 non-profit established to serve healthcare leaders serving the underserved in rural America. He is the creator and host of the Rural Health Leadership Radio podcast, a contributing author to the Wall Street Journal Best-seller Masters of Success, author of the award-winning best-seller To Lead, Follow, author/editor of What Rural Health Leaders are Saying, and 35-year veteran of the healthcare industry.
Dr. Auxier is Adjunct Associate Professor in the Master’s in Business Administration and Master’s in Cybersecurity at the University of Maryland Global Campus teaching Communication, Decision Making and Leadership.
Bill started his career in healthcare as a nurse’s aide at Hamilton Memorial Hospital, a Critical Access Hospital, in his boyhood hometown, McLeansboro, Illinois. From there, he worked his way up to become the CEO of a surgical device manufacturer with global distribution.
He is an Affiliate Member of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School and recipient of the 2019 National Rural Health Association President’s Award.
Electronic Health Records (EHR) were implemented for several reasons, one of them being the reduction of healthcare costs. Have EHRs reduced costs? Have EHRs reduced costs in rural hospitals? If you would like to know the answer to those questions and more, listen to our conversation with Claudia Rhoades, a 3rd Year Doctoral Student and Dr. Brian Whitacre, Professor and Extension Economist in Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University.
“I was surprised to find such a different appreciation between EHR in hospital costs for urban and rural hospitals.”
~ Claudia Rhoades
Claudia Rhoades is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University. Claudia has a B.A. in International Relations from Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico and an M.S. in International Studies from Oklahoma State University. Claudia’s main area of interest is economic and rural development. She is passionate about education, and poverty alleviation.
Brian Whitacre is a Professor and Jean & Patsy Neustadt Chair in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University. Brian’s main area of interest is rural economic development, with a focus on the role that technology can play. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles, with most exploring the relationship between Internet access and rural development. He has developed innovative outreach programs that help small towns benefit from the Internet. Brian has won regional and national awards for his research, teaching, and extension programs.
The new administration created the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and handpicked Dr. Tim Putnam to be a part of that team. Why? Because he has an incredible amount of experience as a healthcare leader, particularly rural health! Tim is not only the CEO of Margaret Mary Health, a Critical Access Hospital in Indiana, he is also Past-President of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), an American College of Healthcare Executive Fellow, and involved in many other healthcare organizations and initiatives. One of those initiatives is the creation of the NRHA Rural Hospital CEO Certification Program.
“There’s a lot of things you don’t learn in your master’s program or an academic medical center on how to make it work in a rural community.”
Tim Putnam is President and CEO of Margaret Mary Health in Batesville, Indiana, and has over 30 years of healthcare experience. He received his Doctorate in Health Administration from the Medical University of South Carolina where his dissertation was focused on acute stroke care in rural hospitals. In 2015, Dr. Putnam was certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and serves on the Batesville Fire and EMS Lifesquad.
Rural hospitals have many challenges, and the Center for Optimizing Rural Health (CORH) was created to help overcome those challenges. Housed within the Rural & Community Health Institute at Texas A&M University, CORH works with the rural facilities, their providers and their communities to improve the quality of care, maintain access to care and address the challenges unique to small hospitals and the towns they serve. We’re having this conversation with Bree Watzak, a true rural health leader who wears many hats. Bree is the Director of Rural Access Programs, Director of Technical Assistance (CORH), and Patient Safety Organization (PSO #79) Pharmacist.
“The themes we are seeing in the Bright Spots are leadership, culture and upstream thinking.”
Bree Watzak has been a pharmacist since 2008, she joined the Texas A&M Health Science Center in 2011. She is a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist and a TeamSTEPPS master trainer. Bree received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Houston and completed residency training at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Bree is the pharmacist on the PSO #79 team, listed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
As Director of Technical Assistance for the Center for Optimizing Rural Health, Bree spends her time working with rural communities to improve the quality of care, maintain access to care, and address the challenges unique to rural hospitals and the communities they serve. Bree was a 2020 Rural Health Fellows with the National Rural Health Association and currently serves as a Research and Education Constituency Group Representative on the Rural Health Congress.
You can learn more about CORH by clicking here.
After serving rural hospitals and clinics in rural Illinois for years, Pat Schou became the President of the National Rural Health Association right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. All those plans for conferences and presentations changed dramatically while the needs for rural health providers dramatically changed too. In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, Pat provides her perspective on the current state of affairs in rural healthcare.
“We are really better together!”
Pat Schou is the Executive Director of the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN), the first state-wide critical access hospital network established in 2003. ICAHN is comprised of 57 CAH and rural hospitals, which is providing a number of hospital support services and educational programs, as well as managing the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant, Small Hospital Improvement Program, and several other grant programs on behalf of the IL Department of Public Health and other organizations.
In addition, Pat is the Executive Director of the IL Rural Community Care Organization (IRCCO), a statewide rural accountable care organization comprising 25 critical access and rural hospitals. Pat has more than 35 years of clinical and rural hospital administrative experience and past president of the National Rural Health Association. Pat serves on the Board for the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program, National Rural Resource Center Board, and Partners for Connected IL Board. She is also a fellow member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and is a national speaker and facilitator.
You can learn more about ICAHN by clicking here.