Annual Nebraska Rural Health Awards
Each year, the Nebraska Rural Health Association honors people who have contributed to rural healthcare through leadership at its annual conference. These awards recognize individuals and organizations who take on leadership roles in healthcare and their communities. Prior to each annual conference, the Nebraska Rural Health Association solicits nominations for three awards and your input is very valuable to us.
2018 Award Winners
2018 Outstanding Rural Health Achievement Award - Katherine Jones, PT, PhD
Katherine Jones is a physical therapist and health services researcher. While on faculty at the University of Nebraska Medical Center from 2004 through June 2018, she was the principal investigator for two Partnerships in Implementing Patient Safety grants funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that sought to improve medication safety (2005 – 2007) and fall risk reduction (2012 – 2015) in Nebraska’s Critical Access Hospitals. She was also the principal investigator of projects funded by the Nebraska Rural Hospital Flexibility program that were instrumental in receiving and extending the work of these federal grants.
Specifically, the Flex program supported her efforts from 2008 – 2015 to disseminate TeamSTEPPS, AHRQ’s team training curriculum, across Nebraska’s Critical Access Hospitals. Her published evaluation of the implementation of TeamSTEPPS in Nebraska’s Critical Access Hospitals is included in AHRQ’s evidence that effective teamwork improves patient safety culture. The Flex program also funded her team’s efforts to identify the source of disparities in fall risk between urban and rural hospitals in Nebraska and to implement and evaluate the impact of post-fall huddles on hospital fall risk and safety culture.
Dr. Jones is nationally recognized for her expertise in safety culture assessment and teamwork in small rural hospitals. She is certified as a TeamSTEPPS Master Trainer, Just Culture Champion, and Patient Safety Officer. Currently, she is the President of the Nebraska Coalition for Patient Safety and the manager of Jones Health Services Consulting.
Finally, she acknowledges that her efforts to improve the quality and safety of care in Nebraska’s Critical Access hospitals were possible because of the support of multiple team members including Dr. Dave Palm, Margaret Brockman, Nancy Jo Hansen, Dr. Keith Mueller, Professor Anne Skinner, Mary Wood, Dr. Dawn Venema, Dr. Roni Reiter-Palmon, Dr. Joseph Allen, Dr. John Crowe, Dr. Michael Yoerger, and most importantly, the healthcare professionals and leaders in Nebraska’s Critical Access Hospitals.
2018 Outstanding Community Leadership Award - Rob Anderson
It is important to recognize that rural health care delivery systems will survive only with the involvement of rural consumers. The Outstanding Community Leadership Award honors an individual consumer, who is not an employee in the healthcare or health insurance industry, for active participation within his or her community regarding rural health service delivery issues. For example, the award winner may have testified to the state or national legislature on rural consumers' health care needs or made lasting contributions to rural health care in their community, region, or state.
Rob Anderson joined the Lexington Regional Health Center (LRHC)’s Board of Trustees in 2011. 2011 was a pivotal year for the health center and for health care in general. Mr. Anderson knew that it was important for him to play an active role in representing the community’s needs through his service on the board.
Mr. Anderson assumed the Board Chair position in 2016. During Rob’s time on the LRHC’s board the organization has experienced a 41% growth in revenue. As Rob saw the need for access to care and the difficulties in delivering this care while maintaining an operating margin, he became even more intent on delivering this message to key community stakeholders. Importantly, he understood that health care advocacy on a state and national level was imperative.
When Rob Anderson commits to something he does so fully and intentionally. He made sure he was informed about the issues facing rural health care communities. Rob educated himself by reading, listening and participating in numerous meetings, educational programs and conferences. It is the participation piece that really sets Rob apart because it requires personal sacrifice.
Mr. Anderson possesses an Ag Business degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He comes from a long line of farmers and he, along with his family, continue to farm the land in and around Lexington, Ne. He is a long-time native of Lexington, graduating from Lexington Public High School in 1987, so he understands rural economies and the importance of access to high quality schools and health care. His rural background and passion for sustaining strong rural communities make him an ideal board member and community advocate; he also serves on the Lexington Community Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Mr. Anderson not limited to his rural community, but he is committed to all of Nebraska. His action took him to Washington D.C as a member of the NeRHA delegation. He consistently shows up and actively interacts with state senators and Nebraska congressional representatives. He tirelessly shares the message that access to high-quality health care close to home is essential to a community’s economic well-being and the population’s overall health. This passion and commitment are commendable and definitely worthy of acknowledgement.
2018 NeRHA President’s Award - Ken Foster, Rural Division Development Officer with Bryan Health
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.
Ken served as vice president of strategic planning and regional development for Bryan Health and executive director of Heartland Health Alliance for 20years. After retiring in 2015, he returned to serve as a rural development officer for the Bryan Rural Division in2016. As rural development officer, Ken’s focus is on helping support rural hospitals by connecting them with resources available from the Heartland Health Alliance and Bryan Health. Ken currently serves on the Board of Merrick Medical Center in Central City and is Chair of Nebraska State Telehealth Network.
The Heartland Health Alliance (HHA) is a network of rural and urban Midwest hospitals dedicated to enhancing the delivery of rural health care. HHA was created in 1995 to assist member hospitals to provide cost-effective, quality health care through shared services and expertise.
HHA is organized to ensure each hospital's local control and autonomy, while providing support to address managed care issues and other changes in the health care environment.
Outstanding Rural Health Practitioner Award
The Outstanding Rural Health Practitioner Award recognizes an individual who is a direct service provider and 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 multi-disciplinary teamwork; involvement in the community; involvement in education; and lasting contribution to the rural health care system.
Outstanding Rural Health Achievement Award
The Outstanding Rural Health Achievement Award recognizes an individual in the health care industry for leadership and noteworthy initiative in promoting the development of community oriented rural health care delivery. Factors for selection should include: distinctive efforts to promote and/or improve rural healthcare and provide lasting contributions to health care. This award recognizes noteworthy initiatives in the development of community-oriented rural health care delivery.
Rural Health Distinctive Consumer Advocate Award
It is important to recognize that rural health care delivery systems will survive only with the involvement of rural consumers. The Rural Health Distinctive Consumer Advocate Award honors an individual consumer, who is not an employee in the healthcare or health insurance industry, for active participation within his or her community regarding rural health service delivery issues. For example, the award winner may have testified to the state or national legislature on rural consumers' health care needs or made lasting contributions to rural health care in their community, region, or state. The nominee should be current on rural consumer health care issues and must have shown leadership in community and education regarding health care changes, needs, or improvements.
NRHA Awards Event Celebrating Excellence in Rural Health
Each year NRHA honors outstanding individuals and organizations in the field of rural health who have dedicated their time and talents to improving the health and well-being of others. Previous recipients have stretched the boundaries of possibility by forging innovative programs and services, making rural life healthier and more compassionate.
Selections are made on the basis of a 300-500 word narrative, which is part of the nomination form. To ensure accountability, either the nominee or nominator must have a connection to NRHA through membership. Each year, NRHA hosts a luncheon in honor of the Rural Health Award winners, at which time the awardees are presented with a commemorative gift before approximately 1,000 rural health peers.
2018 President's Award
The President’s Award goes to Roger D. Wells, PA-C. Selected for the award by NRHA. President Tommy Barnhart, Wells has been an NRHA member since 2014. Since then he has attended every NRHA event and served on the association’s Rural Health Congress, Government Affairs Committee, and board of trustees, as well as chair of the Clinical constituency group. He has assisted with the development of many NRHA policies, most recently the physician assistant policy paper. Wells has also helped shape rural policies at the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Office of the National Coordinator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and National Advisory Commission on Health and Human Services.