Rural Health Care Re-imagined

Case-based insights of Colorado's Rural Health System

There can be no single solution, no silver bullet, to address the challenges and disparities that exist in rural health care systems. Instead, CHA believes that local leaders are those best equipped to respond to the challenges facing their communities. Rural Health Care Re-imagined is designed to empower health care leaders on the local level devise solutions to the unique challenges that face their communities. Through interactive, small-group discussions, participants will have the opportunity to examine the details of the presented cases and examine how they might have responded to the situation.

This series is a continuation of the learnings from the rural playbook, Re-Imagining Leadership: A Pathway for Rural Health to Thrive in a COVID-19 World, released last year, with the goal of taking lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to further the innovative work being done in the rural health care space. 

Rural Hospital Leadership Conundrum: The Burnout of a Good Doctor

Noon – 1:30 p.m. | June 16

Burnout is often treated as an individual issue resulting from lack of work-life balance. There are also organizational issues that contribute to and exacerbate the practitioner’s experience of burnout, some of which could be mitigated with engaged governance.

CEOs, hospital board members, CNOs, COOs, CMOs, human resources, clinic managers, clinic nurses, and rural clinicians

Presented by:
Erin Sullivan, PhD, researcher and curriculum director, Harvard Medical School and Benjamin Anderson, CHA vice president, rural health and hospitals

After three and a half years practicing full spectrum family medicine in rural Montana, Dr. Chris Wilhelm’s wife found him collapsed and unconscious on their bathroom floor. The exhaustion of working 10-hour days only to go home and finish charting until midnight, plus a brutal every-third-night call schedule had caught up with him. Wilhelm simply could not drink from the proverbial fire hose any longer. He intended to ask the hospital CEO to release him from the non-compete clause in his contract so that he could move to a clinic-only practice 20 miles away. While he knew the hospital would then be left with two physicians, both of whom were good friends and similarly burned-out colleagues, Wilhelm felt that this was a matter of survival. Wilhelm struggled to understand how it had come to this, and if it was even possible to practice rural medicine in a more sustainable way.

A Communications Case Study: Board Governance in a Rural Community

Noon – 1:30 p.m. | June 30

The stability of rural health care delivery systems may be determined by hospital and clinic administrative and governance leaders’ effectiveness in communicating about significant events and strategic decisions to other stakeholders. A breakdown in that communications can have disastrous results. 

CEOs, hospital board members, CMOs, PIOs, clinic managers, medical practice owners, and public health directors

Presented by:
Todd Linden, MHA, FACHE, president Linden Consulting and Julie Lonborg, CHA senior vice president, communications and media relations

This session will break down a true story about a massive communications failure between a hospital board and CEO as an opportunity for participants to analyze common communication challenges and think through how this failure could be prevented. At the end of this session, participants will have a foundational understanding of the importance of a crisis communications strategy as part of a broader emergency preparedness plan.

A commitment to crisis communications starts at the governance level. Some boards overlook certain forms of preparation, such as establishing good working relationships between the legal and communications departments before a crisis. Crises can be exacerbated, and administration can be undermined when there is dissonance or confusion within the governance team. Having a coordinated response with buy-in from governance is vital for the safety and long-term vitality of any rural health care delivery system. 

A Community Engagement Case: Vaccine Equity in a Rural Community

Noon – 1:30 p.m. | July 14

Ethical decision making and change management begin at the governance level. The board sets the vision and culture of an organization and hires a CEO that aligns with both.  Inversely, when there is unhealthy dissonance within the board or poor understanding of power dynamics, administration is either undermined or not adequately held accountable and progress is stifled. 

CEOs, hospital board members, CNOs, COOs, CMOs, public health directors, practice managers, medical practice owners, and independent clinic managers

Presented by:
Erin Sullivan, PhD, researcher and curriculum director, Harvard Medical School

Using sound framework in making ethical decisions when confronted with a dilemma is a key to the vitality of any community facing a crisis. This was especially evident in a hospital in a remote mountain town facing a vaccine supply shortage with community leaders vying for their own special interests. Through an interactive discussion of a Harvard Business School-style case study about a rural leader facing a thorny issue, this case will explore the individual and structural issues that contribute to ethical decision making and how to navigate pitfalls through stakeholder management. At the end of this session, participants will have access to tools and strategies to influence others for the common good of their community.

CHA and the Eugene S. Farley, Jr. Health Policy Center are proud to co-host these virtual sessions in partnership with:

Made possible with generous support from: