My Three Goals for 2015:
- Develop and implement an online stakeholder survey
- Host local Rural Health Summits/site visits in each rural hospital service area.
- Identify eligible geographic shortage designations based on newly available provider census data for dentists, primary care and mental health.
What is on your desk right now that you want/need to read?
Too many things. Research articles, newsletters, reports, etc.
What do you do when you are not working?
I serve as a resident representative on the board of Champlain Housing Trust to develop and support affordable housing for northwestern Vermont, and chair the (housing) Cooperative Advisory Committee with representatives of 5 local housing cooperatives. Previously I was our coop’s treasurer for about 5 years. I also have volunteered and supported our regional performing arts center for the past 15 years.
If you weren’t doing this, you would be…?
- Traveling or guiding tours – I love to meet new people, explore new places, see art and architecture, or help people enjoy their visits to my neck of the woods.
- Something like a project manager to convene local and regional stakeholders to identify, address and fix shared problems.
What is the most important thing you are working on right now?
Arranging multi-stakeholder meetings in each of our hospital service areas this summer and fall.
What inspires you and excites you most about working for a SORH?
Connecting people and organizations to information, peers, solutions or other resources.
What is the biggest challenge facing SORH leaders today?
Thinking, understanding and sharing info on the many facets of health care today – from the general to the specific of finances, clinical services, technology, reform, workforce, population health, insurance, etc.
What is one characteristic that you believe every SORH leader should possess?
Inclusiveness. Everyone has a piece of the puzzle to improve community health. Whether you’re a clinician, administrator, board member, staff, technician, funder, owner or patient of a hospital, clinic, or community member, you have a vested interest in seeing that your local health system(s) work well together by share information, resources and vision for a healthy, vibrant community.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a SORH leader?
Meeting with my peers when I can; interacting with health care leaders in my hospitals, clinics, government agencies, etc.
How did you get to where you are now? (What positions, schooling, bumps along the road, etc., led you here?)
My first job in public health was HIV prevention in four counties in Vermont, 3 were rural, including outreach, education and training for high schools, colleges and community groups. While pursuing a Masters in Education, I worked part time as a project manager, taught medical students and co-facilitated domestic violence intervention groups. I directed Vermont’s comprehensive cancer control program for 6 years, then switched over to Rural Health and Primary Care in 2010.
What skill sets do you think SORH staff need—and how did you achieve them? (And what skill sets are you looking to improve or expand upon next year?)
Problem-solving, coalition building, communications, leadership and resourcefulness.
How much do you unplug from the office? What do you do to unplug (and unwind)?
I connect with friends after work most evenings. I play volleyball regularly, swim in Lake Champlain when I can, and work out periodically. I explore cities when I travel for work or leisure.
What are three great things about rural health in your state? What are the current challenges?
- 75% of the state is rural!! So, public health in Vermont is rural health in Vermont!
- We are a small state, so it is easy – and essential – to know and collaborate with partners, stakeholder and decision makers.
- There are many state and health organizations working on a wide range of issues already so I get to help small, rural health systems participate more fully in existing ventures. Does your office do strategic planning? How do you go about it?
Sort of. Informally; 2 years ago, we updated our existing Rural Health Plan.
It really is driven by Federal and State funding streams and requirements.
As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?
I try to think and talk about the purpose of the program, sub-grant, report or activity. How does this activity or relationship meet the needs of one elderly rural resident who will access any number of health care providers in multiple organizations in this community or far away this month or year?
What are three (life or work) lessons you would share?
- Keep an open mind. Reality is rarely how you initially perceive it. There are many perspectives and possible solutions.
- Collaborate whenever possible. Many hands make light work, and more sustainable solutions.
- Keep your audience in mind. You may have lots of things to say, but the needs and interests of your audience is your purpose for talking, writing, working in the first place.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a SORH leader? Maybe some one who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
Several of my predecessors. I had a chance to work beside them and with them before I joined the SORH/PCO. I learned from their energy, generosity, flexibility and dedication to residents and health care providers in rural areas.
Are there any programs in your SORH that you think might make a good candidate for a Promising Practice article?
Possibly some of our collaborations:
- Multi-state RH association: New England Rural Health RoundTable –
- NE RH Conference – Federal Partner Day & Hospital Leader Summit
- NE Performance Improvement Initiative – quality improvement, etc.
- SORH/PCO/PCA meetings – quarterly
- Sharing information and determining funding priorities for FQHCs, workforce needs, etc.