2016 NeRHA Award Winners

2016 NeRHA Award Winners



There are many hardworking, dedicated people out there who have made a major impact on health care in rural Nebraska. There is no doubt that this year's winner of the Nebraska Rural Health Association President's Award has had a significant impact in improving the health for all Nebraskans. He is one of the true champions of rural and public health in Nebraska.

Allan Jenkins, PhD is effective at networking and bringing a fresh perspective to policy issues. His professional engagement in rural health issues, his academic advocacy on rural issues, and his support of students considering careers in rural health is unmatched in Nebraska. Allan created a healthcare economics course at UNK in 2008. Seeing the value of student internships in rural hospitals, Allan approached the UNK administration with a proposal to create a rural health internship program funded with $20 thousand per year by the university. This program offered students the opportunity to intern at rural health organizations including those located in Lexington, Kearney, North Platte and Norton.

Nebraska's Unicameral had twice rejected Medicaid expansion when Dr. Jenkins and his colleague Dr. Konecny prepared their report on the costs and benefits of Medicaid expansion in Nebraska. The central argument of the report, which received wide media coverage, was that rural hospitals are essential to economic growth and sustainability; that they are cornerstones of the community and comprise a critical component of the local economic infrastructure. Dr. Jenkins' advocacy efforts include testifying at the Unicameral and in Washington D.C. His presence in rural health is well established and his expertise will be essential in the coming years as rural health care continues to face proportional disparity in reimbursement cuts, participation in quality programs and significant financial stress.



The outstanding rural health practitioner award recognizes an individual that is a direct service provider who provides direct patient care such as physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and others. This individual must exhibit outstanding leadership in bringing and/or improving health services in rural Nebraska. Factors taken into consideration include providing outstanding care; collaboration and multidisciplinary teamwork; involvement in the community; involvement in education; and lasting contribution to the rural health care system.

The Nebraska Rural Health Association is proud to announce two winners of the Outstanding Rural Health Practitioner Award for 2016. These recipients are Catherine Jones-Hazledine and Jeff Breitkreutz.

Dr. Jones-Hazledine, known by most in Western Nebraska as "Dr. Cate", is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Wester Nebraska Behavioral Health Clinics; a series of rural integrated behavioral health clinics in the Western and Panhandle areas of Nebraska. She is an Adjunct faculty member with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Chadron State College.

Dr. Cate has a keen understanding of the behavioral health needs and challenges in rural Nebraska and is committed to finding solutions to improve access to behavioral health in all areas of the state. She has a keen understanding of the behavioral health needs and challenges in rural Nebraska and is committed to finding solutions to improve access to behavioral health in areas of the state. On two occasions, she has testified in front of the Nebraska Legislature on rural behavioral health care needs and is an advocate for better access to care. Dr. Cate has been a rural behavioral health provider in underserved areas since 2004, and through her clinics, has more than of 1,250 rural patient visits each year across the Panhandle and Sandhills areas of Nebraska.

Jeff Breitkreutz has been a Physician Assistant since 1982 and was in private practice before joining Valley County Health System in August 2001. He has provided medical care to the community for nine years. He currently provides emergency medical services to the patients at Valley County Health System.

Jeff received the Physician Assistant of the Year Award in 2006 from the Nebraska Academy of Physician Assistants. Jeff oversees the clinical rotations for Physician Assistant Students and assists with the Medical Student rotations for many candidates from Nebraska Medicine.

Not only is he an outstanding medical provider, Jeff is actively involved in the community. Jeff is a committed volunteer with the local 4-H. He is currently serving as the Vice President of the4-H Council, and has been a 4-H Archery Instructor and Volunteer 4-H Leader for 23 years In Valley County. Jeff has served on a mission trip to Paraguay, donating time and medical supplies .Jeff also serves as President of his church council, and has served in other volunteer roles at his church as well.



Rural health care is constantly evolving and changing for many Nebraska communities, and in Ainsworth, Nebraska, it's no different. Brown County Hospital is especially fortunate to have Ann Fiala, a dedicated community member who is committed to ensuring high quality health care is a vital force in our region. Ann is involved in nearly every aspect of health care delivery to our community, from emergency services to hospital to assisted living, and does it with dedication as well as vision!

In 2011, Ann was appointed by the Brown County Commissioners to serve on the Brown County Hospital Board of Trustees and continues in that capacity today. She currently serves as Secretary on the Board and has achieved NHA Board Certification for the past 3 years. Prior to Ann's time as a Board member, in 2006 she co-chaired a volunteer committee that helped promote and successfully pass a bond issue for the Brown County Hospital Expansion Project. In January 2015, a task force was formed to keep the local nursing home from closing in Ainsworth and Ann was a founding member of that group. She put in numerous hours to attend meetings, make phone calls, contact senators, and advocate the need for our rural health care continuum.

Ann has been a member of the Brown County Ambulance Association as an EMT for 19 years and currently serves as President of the association. With declining numbers on the squads, it requires more and more time from EMTs to be available for emergency calls to ensure that we can get timely services to the members of our communities. Ann commits numerous hours to being on-call for ambulance services and has true compassion for pre-hospital care. Most recently, there had been concerns about extended wait times for patients waiting to transfer out of our hospital, and Ann has put in countless hours of brainstorming and research to find solutions to decreasing this wait time. This past year, Ann has been successful in implementing a call rotation of EMTs to be available for transfers from our facility, separate from the 911 service, to ensure a timely transition to the next facility. Ann works diligently to collaborate with nearby squads to not only retain our current emergency services but to progress and improve pre-hospital services.

Ann has also been a member of the State of Nebraska Emergency Medical Services Board for nearly 9 years and was recently appointed to Vice-Chair. Additionally, Ann has been on the Nebraska Critical Incident Stress Management Team for 18 years. Of those years, she has been appointed as the Call-Out Coordinator for the past 6 years which requires her to set up debriefing events in the case of critical incidents. In the past she has also been part of Region 1 State Trauma Board.