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Shepherd to host April 28 rural health care conference

ISSUED: 19 April 2017
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University is hosting a seminar on rural health policy featuring three of the nation’s leaders in rural health on Friday, April 28, from 2-5 p.m. in the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. The forum, titled “Training a New Generation to Ensure Affordable, Quality Rural Healthcare,” is free and open to students, faculty, staff, and the public and will include an announcement of two new internships at the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) or Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP).

The seminar will address how to ensure access to affordable, quality healthcare for rural residents, how to select Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement approaches that help rural healthcare facilities keep their doors open, and how to attract healthcare providers to rural communities. The internships are designed to help teams of Shepherd University students and their faculty mentors learn about rural health policy.

Speakers will include Tom Morris, associate administrator and director of FORHP, who will discuss current issues in rural health policy from the federal perspective; Alan Morgan, chief executive officer of NRHA, discussing current rural health issues from an advocacy perspective; and Dr. Marcia K. Brand, chair of Shepherd’s Board of Governors, senior advisor to the Dentaquest Foundation, and executive director of the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health, who will give a brief overview and history of rural health policy.

Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix, a nationally renowned cancer researcher, will give opening remarks; Amy Elizondo, MPH, vice president of the program services at the NRHA, will discuss her previous experience as a rural health policy intern and internship opportunities for Shepherd students; and Dr. Sharon Mailey, chair of Shepherd’s Department of Nursing Education, and Dr. Ben Martz, chair of Shepherd’s Department of Business Administration, will discuss how faculty and student teams can apply for the internships.

The National Rural Health Association is a national nonprofit membership organization with more than 21,000 members. The association’s mission is to provide leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communication, education, and research. NRHA membership consists of a diverse collection of individuals and organizations, all of which share the common bond of an interest in rural health.

As part of the Health Resources and Services Administration under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy has a department-wide responsibility for analyzing the effects of policy on rural communities and helps shape rural health policy in a variety of ways. The office advises the secretary of health and human services on major issues such as the effects of Medicare and Medicaid on rural citizens’ access to healthcare. The office also has established working relationships with other federal agencies in the development of policy and regulatory decisions.


For more information about the forum, contact Mailey at 304-876-5344 or or visit


Dr. Marcia K. Brand is a senior advisor to the Dentaquest Foundation and the executive director of the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health. She has held a number of national leadership positions in the federal government and academic health care and currently serves as a consultant and advisor on matters related to access to oral health and rural health care. From 2009-2015, Brand was the deputy administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that works to fill in the gaps for people who live outside the economic and medical mainstream. HRSA uses its $10 billion annual budget and its staff of 1,800 to expand access to quality health care in partnership with health care providers and health professions training programs. From 2001-2009, Brand served at HRSA as both director of the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy and Bureau of Health Professions. In previous federal appointments, she led efforts to plan and implement the State Planning Grant Program and coordinated HRSA’s efforts to implement the Children’s Health Insurance Program. As senior advisor to the deputy assistant secretary for health, Brand worked on the Secretary’s Initiative on the Future of Academic Health Centers. Brand was the recipient of the Presidential Merit Rank Award for Distinguished Service in 2011, and in 2015 she received the Phillips Award for Public Service and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Old Dominion University. Brand currently chairs Shepherd’s Board of Governors.

Tom Morris, M.P.A., associate administrator for the Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As HRSA’s associate administrator for rural health policy, Morris oversees the programmatic and policy activities of the Office of Rural Health (FORHP) with its $146 million FY 2016 budget. Morris coordinates FORHP’s analysis and response to policy issues, especially the impact of Medicare and Medicaid regulations on the rural health workforce and service delivery. He is responsible for 23 grant programs that focus on building rural health care capacity at the state and community level. Morris came to the federal government in 1996 as a presidential management intern at HRSA, which led to details on a Federal Intra-Agency Telemedicine Committee, in the U.S. Senate, and at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Morris joined FORHP full time in 1998 and has worked in several capacities there, including as deputy director, and as policy coordinator and grants project officer.

Alan Morgan, M.P.A., CEO, National Rural Health Association, has more than 22 years experience in health policy development at the state and federal levels. He served as staff for former U.S. Congressman Dick Nichols (R-Kan.) and former Kansas Governor Mike Hayden. Additionally, his experience includes tenures with the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and with the Heart Rhythm Society, where he established a Washington, D.C., based government affairs office. Prior to joining NRHA, Morgan served as a federal lobbyist for VHA, Inc. Morgan’s health policy articles have been published in: The Journal of Rural Health, The Journal of Cardiovascular Management, The Journal of Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, Cardiac Electrophysiology Review, and Laboratory Medicine. He also served as a co-author for the 6th edition of “Policy & Politics in Nursing and Health Care.” In 2011, readers of Modern Healthcare Magazine selected Morgan as being among the top 100 most influential people in healthcare.

Amy Elizondo is the vice president of program services for the National Rural Health Association, a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to provide leadership on rural health issues to improve access to care. Based in Washington, D.C., Elizondo currently oversees national and state grant programs along with various health initiatives for the association. Prior to joining the NRHA, Elizondo served as the primary analyst for rural health care and post-acute care issues at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She also completed a fellowship at the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. She has received the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service, the Administrator’s Achievement Award from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has served as a co-author for a chapter on rural public health in America and, in 2007, was inducted into the Delta Omega Honor Society in Public Health.

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