Education event

Rural Health Care Symposium
Construct for Change — Creating a Strategy for Sustainability

Register now
April 6 – 8, 2016
Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, CA


What’s your framework for success?
As rural hospitals build — literally — to meet impending seismic deadlines, there’s also a critical need to establish the operational frameworks required to support and sustain health care reform mandates. Shifting from volume- to value-based reimbursement, meeting increasing quality metrics and building accountable care partnerships are only a few of the challenges rural hospitals face — and they must do these things, and more, with fewer resources.

Ready to create your blueprint for success? Plan now to attend this two-day executive-level program full of innovative strategies, insights and tools to set your hospital on the path to sustainability. Topics for this year’s program include:

  • Leadership strategies for a new health care reality
  • Pathways to financial success — finding opportunities in our changing reimbursement system
  • Washington report — policy updates and task force report on vulnerable communities
  • Workplace violence — making your hospital safe for patients and employees
  • Governing through leadership — enhancing trustees’ contributions through fiduciary, strategic and generative governance methods
  • Plus, critical access hospital workshops on patient engagement, lean methods and financial improvement

Make plans today to attend and don’t forget to invite your trustees to this year’s event. More information coming soon!

Who should attend?

Chief executive officers, administrators, chief operating officers, chief financial officers, nurse leaders and trustees of rural hospitals would all benefit.


Wednesday, April 6

1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Critical Access Hospital-Specific Workshops

Three sessions over two tracks will be offered. CAH tuition scholarships are available for these workshops and the symposium. (See CAH Registrants tab for more information.)

IMPORTANT: The Rancho Bernardo Inn now sold out.  Overflow rooms are available at the nearby Hilton Garden Inn Rancho Bernardo. See “Hotel” tab for more information.

CAH Track 1: Quality/Performance Improvement-Focus

1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Patients and Families: Building and Sustaining Partnerships to Enhance Quality and Safety

Boris Kalanj, Director, Cultural Care & Patient Experience, Hospital Quality Institute; Libby Hoy, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Patient & Family Centered Care Partners; and Adrienne Burns, RN, BSN, CEN, Quality Improvement Specialist, Mammoth Hospital
This two-hour session will discuss patient and family engagement as a strategy for improving safety and quality of care, and highlight practical organizational approaches for achieving transformative engagement.

3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Using Lean Methods to Improve CAH Performance
David Belson, PhD, Adjunct Professor, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California
Lean concepts work because they create more value while using fewer resources. Learn how Lean methods can be applied to the CAH setting to improve and sustain performance, reduce costs and maintain quality. Put Lean to work for you — plan to share your challenges and receive practical direction during this working session.

CAH Track 2: Financial-Focus

1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Financial & Operational Improvement Strategies for CAHs
Kelly Arduino, MA, MBA, Partner, Health Care Practice, Wipfli
The health care industry is experiencing unprecedented change in delivery and payment models. To remain viable, CAHs must embrace a culture of monitoring financial performance, understanding costs and continually improving upon the efficient delivery of quality care. This session will present a rationale for, and approach to, effective, strategic financial planning tailored specifically for CAHs. Concrete examples of monthly board reports, long-range budgeting and meaningful benchmarking will be included, along with case studies analyzing service line profitability. 

Thursday, April 7

8:00 – 9:00 a.m.
Symposium Check In/Registration

9:00 – 9:15 a.m.
Opening and Welcome

Sharon A. Spurgeon, Chief Executive Officer, Coalinga Regional Medical Center; and Peggy Broussard Wheeler, Vice President, Rural Healthcare and Governance, California Hospital Association

9:15 – 10:30 a.m. | Keynote Session
Pathways to Success in a New World of Health Care Finance

Keith Mueller, PhD, Rural Policy Research Institute, Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis
As health care reimbursement evolves, hospitals are increasingly assuming financial risk. This session will explain the changes that are underway and provide guidance on creating an organizational structure to take advantage of those changes. Learn how to pinpoint new opportunities to enhance or sustain services.

10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. | General Session
The New Operational Reality — Building a Framework for Value
Dan Collard, Studer Group
In this essential session, hospital leadership will learn about the necessary components to create a framework to deliver value, and understand why an emphasis on customer service, employee engagement and accountability can dramatically improve quality. Find out how to identify and leverage your strengths to lead your staff and facility on the pathway to value.

12:00 – 1:15 p.m. | Hosted Luncheon
CHA Policy Priorities for 2016
C. Duane Dauner, President/CEO, California Hospital Association
CHA’s president/CEO will share insights into federal and state policy, and explain the impact on rural hospitals. Learn about CHA’s 2016 priorities and plans to protect rural hospitals.

1:30 – 3:00 p.m. | General Session
From Washington to California — Activity Influencing Rural Health Care
Priya Bathiya, Senior Director of Health Policy, American Hospital Association; and Alyssa Keefe, Vice President, Federal Regulatory Affairs, California Hospital Association
There’s a lot happening nationally that may influence health care delivery in California’s rural communities. The American Hospital Association will provide a legislative and regulatory update on issues impacting rural hospitals and discuss the work of the Task Force on Ensuring Access in Vulnerable Communities. Learn about the CHA Rural Healthcare Center’s contributions to the AHA Task force.

3:30 – 5:00 p.m. | General Session
Workplace Violence Prevention — Keeping Patients and Employees Safe
Gail Blanchard-Saiger, Vice President, Labor & Employment, California Hospital Association; and Susan Gray, Director, Workforce Management, Palomar Medical Center
Workplace safety is a high priority for our hospitals. Are you ready to comply with upcoming Cal/OSHA workplace violence regulations? This session will explain what to expect from the final regulations and offer practical guidance on policies and procedures, staff training, reporting requirements and more.

5:00 – 6:15 p.m.

Catch up with colleagues or exchange ideas about the day’s sessions while enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres.

Friday, April 8

7:00 – 8:00 a.m. | Continental Breakfast
Rural Health Care Clinic Association Update
Gail Nickerson, Director of Clinic Services, Adventist Health, and founder of the California Association of Rural Health Clinics

8:00 – 10:00 a.m. | General Session
Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of your Board
Susan Meier, Senior Governance Consultant, BoardSource, and Principal, Meier & Associates
This session will challenge CEOs and their trustees to look at governance as “leadership.” Learn how by employing the three modes of governance — fiduciary, strategic and generative — trustees will create more meaningful and consequential work, and better governed organizations.

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. | Closing Session
Annual CEO Roundtable
Moderator, Peggy Wheeler, Vice President, Rural Health and Governance, California Hospital Association; and Chief Executive Officers Susan M. Childers, George L. Mee Memorial Hospital; Bob Edwards, Mendocino Coast District Hospital; Jeffrey Kepple, MD, Plumas District Hospital, and Sharon A. Spurgeon, Coalinga Regional Medical Center
How will you construct your future? Listen to your colleagues’ frank discussion of their plans to create change in rural environments. This year’s topics include seismic mandates, labor negotiations, workforce and physician recruitment, strategic planning and other “pot hole” issues. Bring your questions for this interactive session. 

CAH Registrants

Critical Access Hospital Tuition Scholarships Available
Funding is available through the CAH Flex Grant for critical access hospital representatives to attend this year’s symposium and CAH-specialized workshops. Some limitations apply. To learn more about CAH tuition scholarship opportunities, contact Peggy Wheeler at (916) 552-7689 or



Register by March 7 and save
Members* $495
Nonmembers** $695 (limitations apply, see below)
Registrations received after March 7, add $100.

Tuition includes reception, luncheon, symposium materials and CEs.

Critical Access Hospital Tuition Scholarships
CAH tuition scholarships are available for the workshops and the symposium. See the CAH Registrant tab for more information.

*Members are CHA member hospitals, CHA associate members and government agencies. **Nonmembers are limited to non-hospital health care providers, clinics, post-acute facilities, and consultants, insurance companies, law firms and other entities that serve hospitals. Education programs and publications are a membership benefit and are not available to eligible nonmember California hospitals.

Continuing Education

Full attendance at the educational session is a prerequisite for receiving professional continuing education credit. Attendees must sign in at the symposium and, when required, include their professional license number. Certificates of attendance will be emailed.

Health Care Executives — CHA is authorized to award up to 4 CAH workshop hours and 10 symposium hours of pre-approved ACHE Qualified Education Credit (non-ACHE) for this program toward the advancement or recertification in the American College of Healthcare Executives. Participants in this program wishing to have the continuing education hours applied toward ACHE Qualified Education credit should indicate their attendance when submitting application to the American College of Healthcare Executives for advancement or recertification.

Nursing — Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, CEP 11924, for 4.8 CAH workshop hours and 12 symposium contact hours.

Cancellation Policy

A $75 non-refundable processing fee will be retained for each cancellation received in writing by March 30. No refunds will be made after this date. Substitutions are encouraged. Cancellation and substitution notifications may be emailed to In the unlikely event the program is cancelled, CHA will fully refund paid participants within 30 days.

Americans with Disabilities Act

If you require special accommodations pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact the CHA Education Department at (916) 552-7637.

Photo Release — Consent to Use Photographic Images and Recordings

Registration and attendance at CHA programs and other activities constitute an agreement by the attendee with CHA for use and distribution of the attendee’s image or voice in photographs, videotapes, electronic reproductions and audiotape.


Rancho Bernardo Inn
17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive
San Diego, CA 92128
(855) 574-5356
(800) 542-6096 (reservations)

Room reservation deadline is March 7

The Rancho Bernardo Inn is the host hotel and site of this year’s event. Located 30 minutes north of San Diego International Airport, the Inn provides the perfect atmosphere for learning and leisure. Take a stroll through the gardens, plan a spa treatment or play a round of golf at the 18-hole championship golf course just steps away from your room.

IMPORTANT: The room block at the Rancho Bernardo Inn is no longer available. For the most current room rates and availability call (800) 305-1179.

OVERFLOW HOTEL: Hilton Garden Inn Rancho Bernardo
Overflow sleeping rooms have been secured at the nearby Hilton Garden Inn Rancho Bernardo. Rooms are available at a discounted rate of $179, single or double occupancy. For reservations call (800) 305-1179 and provide group code ”CHA” to receive the discounted rate. Room availability is limited and the discounted sleeping room deadline is April 8.


Do you have a product or service of interest to rural hospitals? This annual conference is an opportunity to reach California rural hospital executives all in one place.

Click here for more information.

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