Rural Health Journalism 2019: Program

Click the titles of sessions having red arrows to read their descriptions.

Wednesday, June 12

7 a.m.

Registration/check-in desk opens


7:30-8:15 a.m.

Breakfast available


8:40-8:50 a.m.



8:50-9:50 a.m.

Exploring rural health data reporters can use

One good early stop for a story: data and research that can give a solid grounding, add accuracy, and guide you to the right place and right people who can give depth to your reporting. Get tips and find resources with rural health experts who can help bolster your stories with data.
  • Michael Meit, M.P.H., M.A., co-director, NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis

  • Shawnda Schroeder, Ph.D., principal investigator, Rural Health Research Gateway; research assistant professor, Center for Rural Health, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of North Dakota

  • Moderator: Markian Hawryluk, senior Colorado correspondent, Kaiser Health News


10-11 a.m.

Rural opioid crisis: Overcoming barriers to treatment, recovery

The opioid epidemic continues to spread across the United States and rural areas face their own challenges. Compared to their urban counterparts, rural communities have fewer facilities, more limited services and greater distances to care. The stigma of opioid use disorder might further keep those in need from seeking treatment. This panel will take you through the challenges, the efforts to meet them and ideas for stories in your own community.
  • Snehal Bhatt, M.D., medical director, Addictions and Substance Abuse Programs, University of New Mexico Health Sciences 

  • Marc Condojani, director of adult treatment and recovery, Office of Behavioral Health, Colorado Department of Human Services

  • Moderator: Jakob Rodgers, reporter, The Gazette


11:10 a.m.-
12:10 p.m.

Breathing easier: Lung health in vulnerable populations

What’s a spirometer? In many rural communities, spirometry – a tool designed to assess lung function – is underused. Yet the use of this diagnostic and monitoring tool, in addition to treatment availability and provision of patient education are keys to reduce hospitalizations for lung diseases such as asthma. Hear from speakers who can outline how these tools and more could check the disease’s impact.
  • Lisa  Cicutto , R.N., Ph.D., C.A.E., director of Community Outreach and Research, National Jewish Health

  • Cecile S. Rose, M.D., M.P.H., pulmonologist, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Services, National Jewish Health

  • Moderator: Tara  Gatewood, host and producer, Native America Calling


12:15-1:45 p.m.

Luncheon: Examining rural health care quality

You likely know about parts of the problem: areas lacking physicians, challenges to bring health care professionals into rural facilities, hospitals that are closing or reducing services. But diving deeper, this panel will explore the bottom line of these issues: the quality of health care for rural Americans.
  • Trampas Hutches, CEO, Melissa Memorial Hospital

  • Susan Skillman, M.S., senior deputy director, Center for Health Workforce Studies; research scientist, WWAMI Rural Health Research Center

  • Moderator: Patricia Ferrier, business health reporter, The Coloradoan, Fort Collins


2-3 p.m.

Fires, floods and more: How disasters threaten public health

Floods can cause more than property damage. Wildfires can destroy more than possessions. Disasters inevitably bring negative health effects in their wake. Disasters can mean contaminated food and water, disease outbreaks, lung damage, injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. Find pre- and post-disaster stories and how to prepare.
  • Jane Gross, M.D., Ph.D., pediatric pulmonologist, National Jewish Health

  • Greg Stasinos, response and operations section chief, Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

  • Moderator: Jenn Lukens, Rural Health Information Hub web writer, University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health


3-3:30 p.m.

Afternoon break


3:30-4:30 p.m.

Deaths of despair: Suicides on the rise in rural America

Suicide is taking an increasing number of lives, especially in rural America. Indeed, the gap in suicide rates between rural and urban areas have grown steadily in the past several years. There are numerous possible reasons: distance from behavioral health care resources, a population of at-risk veterans, even more access to firearms. Explore those reasons and more with a pair of experts who are in the midst of attempts to curtail this rise.
  • Nazanin H. Bahraini, Ph.D., director of education, Veterans Affairs Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center

  • Lisa A. Brenner, Ph.D., A.B.P.P., director, Veterans Affairs Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center

  • Charles Smith, Ph.D., regional administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration - Region VIII
    State Strategies for Averting Early Deaths (2.4MB .pdf)
    Tips for media consideration (123KB .pdf)

  • Moderator: Cheryl Platzman Weinstock, independent journalist