Author: Legato Marketing

Pender Community Hospital District recently announced that Laura Gamble, RN has been hired as its new CEO. With more than 30 years of experience in rural healthcare in the surrounding area, Gamble has a myriad of administrative and nursing experience in critical access hospitals. 

A native of northeast Nebraska, Gamble was most recently employed at Twelve Clans Unity Hospital in Winnebago, and prior to that was Chief Executive Officer/Director of Nursing at MercyOne Oakland Hospital in Oakland. She earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Lincoln, as well as a certification in Healthcare Management from the Bryan School of Health Sciences in Lincoln. 

Gamble has also served rural healthcare in many capacities throughout the state, including working closely with the Nebraska Hospital Association (NHA), where she currently serves on the organization’s services board. She currently resides in Wayne but plans to relocate to Pender in the near future, is looking forward to getting involved in various community projects in and around the health district.

“I have always admired the town of Pender and the pride they take in and the support they give to their hospital. The compassionate and top-notch care given at PCH is impressive and I am very fortunate to be able to care for the people in this area.”

Pender Community Hospital welcomed Kate Mueller to its staff on Monday, Aug. 22. As a new part-time physician assistant in family medicine, Mueller will see patients in PCH’s ER, as well as at both the Pender and Emerson Medical Clinics. 

Prior to joining PCH, Mueller was employed at NuWest Medical Clinic in Norfolk; before that, she worked at Memorial Health Clinic in Aurora for nearly six years. As a physician assistant, Mueller has experience helping patients of all ages manage acute and chronic illnesses, as well as providing both routine and preventative healthcare. Mueller has also worked in ER settings, as well as inpatient admittance.

Mueller earned a master’s degree in physician assistant studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center; and earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry health science from Wayne State College.

In addition, Mueller has been certified in the following areas: Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS); Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS); Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS); Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP); Basic Life Support (BLS); and National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. She is also a member of several professional organizations, including both the American and Nebraska Academies of Physician Assistants.Family medicine providers at PCH offer a full-scope of comprehensive care for patients of all ages. For more information, visit our primary care page.

Pender Medical Clinics’ Director of Nursing, Cyndi Conroy, has been selected as a winner of Huron Consulting Group’s “What’s Right in Healthcare 2022 Hero Award”.

Nominees for the award were required to “have significantly impacted results related to enhancing the patient experience, employee/physician engagement, improvement of their organization with innovative ideas or outstanding service to improve the health within their community,” according to the application form.

Conroy, who has been employed with PCH’s Pender Medical Clinic for more than 30 years, was nominated by clinic director, Lori Minert, for her leadership navigating the PCH clinics through the COVID-19 pandemic, including traveling to provide more than 3,000 COVID vaccines in a sparsely populated rural area.

According to the nomination form, “Cyndi has gone above and beyond as our director of nursing; one of her most notable accomplishments was keeping our nursing staff intact, with almost zero turnover” since the start of the pandemic.

Recipients of the award receive a complimentary registration to Huron’s What’s Right in Healthcare event, an annual conference designed to educate and connect professionals within the healthcare industry. This year’s conference was held in Chicago, August 8-10. For more information about Huron’s What’s Right in Healthcare, visit huronconsultinggroup.com.

Pulmonary Rehab Q&A

We recently caught up with Bancroft resident Sondra Bennett, age 62, who successfully completed the pulmonary rehab program a few years ago at Pender Community Hospital. Here’s what she had to say about the benefits of PCH’s pulmonary rehab program:

How did you learn about pulmonary rehab at PCH?

I had some lung issues and had been in the hospital, and needed to be on oxygen, so my pulmonologist brought it up to me because they thought I could benefit from it.

Why did you choose pulmonary rehab at PCH?

It’s closest to where I live and it sure beat going to Norfolk. I had had good results at Pender before, and I’m glad I went. For one thing, I really like the therapists over there – they made you feel really comfortable. I never felt pressured and they taught me a lot of different ways to handle my shortness of breath. They’re very positive, very compassionate.

Can you describe a typical session at PCH’s pulmonary rehab program? 

It was usually an hour – they did my vitals, then my exercises, including breathing ones. They let me work at my own pace: If I needed to stop midway, they were okay with that. They even did the exercises with me – I really enjoyed our time together and I still use all those things today that they taught me because it does make a difference.

What challenges did your team help you work through? 

I had to learn how to cope with being on oxygen – all of the sudden, things were so different. When I first heard about the program, I thought “Great! I’ll give it a shot,” but when it came down to it, the day before, I thought it was going to be a waste of time. Then I got there and really enjoyed it – it was worth the time!

Would you recommend the program to others? 

Oh, yes – go for it! What do you have to lose? You’ll come out of there feeling better about yourself. I learned new techniques – for me, I was so short of breath, but learned how to control that – and that this was not the end of the world. 

How has your life improved after pulmonary rehab? 

I learned different ways to control my breathing and I learned to accept this as my new normal; I am thankful for every day when I wake up.To learn more about PCH’s expert pulmonary rehab services, talk to your primary care provider or visit our Cardiopulmonary Services page.


With PCH Cardiac Rehab

Research indicates that cardiac rehab reduces participants’ death rate by as much as 30% when compared to non-participants – and that the biggest factor in determining rehab participation is the strength of the recommendation made by the patient’s physician. 

Larry Rogers is glad he took his doctor’s suggestions seriously to participate in Pender Community Hospital’s cardiac rehab program.

“I had some heart issues; I had a vessel that was 95% blocked, so they put a stent in and that’s when my doctor told me about Pender’s cardiac rehab program,” Rogers, age 62, explained. 

Cardiac rehab can help patients experiencing: 

  • angina
  • coronary artery disease
  • heart attack or other cardiac events
  • heart surgery and procedures
  • cardiovascular disease

Cardiac rehabilitation has been proven to lower the risk of death and health complications for patients who have experienced a cardiac procedure or event, and also increases the likelihood of returning to an active lifestyle. Another key factor as to why heart health providers advocate for cardiac rehab: It significantly reduces hospital readmission for cardiac patients.

What A Cardiac Rehab Plan Looks Like at PCH

Cardiac rehab plans at PCH typically range from three to six weeks and offer a full range of rehabilitative services, education and support to alleviate symptoms and help people heal – and also to prevent future problems by strengthening a patient’s body and improve their quality of life. Most participants also report that cardiac rehab improves their mood and mental health. 

To create an effective, customized rehab plan for each patient, PCH’s skilled rehabilitation team collaborates with a variety of specialists and staff, including primary care providers, cardiologists, behavioral health and nutrition specialists and social services professionals. 

The cardiac rehab team examines each patient’s progress throughout the plan, and makes adjustments as necessary in nutrition, sleep and activity levels, as well as continuously monitors how the patient is managing stress and living with their condition. Each plan is designed to improve heart health while also improving strength, conditioning, and general well-being. 

The cardiac rehab therapy team also provides patients with the resources and support they need to succeed, including providing educational information about their condition’s risk factors, lifestyle adjustments, tobacco cessation and stress management techniques. 

Cardiac Rehab Worked for Rogers

Rogers said that he especially appreciated PCH’s flexibility; Rogers, who is a farmer in Lyons, experienced his cardiac event in the spring of 2021 – right as he was getting ready to plant.  

“Pender was very good to work with; I needed to plant, and their flexibility was awesome,” said Rogers, who commended the cardiac rehab team on working around his schedule. 

For example, the PCH rehab team recommended that Rogers watch educational videos while he was exercising, which allowed him to double up on what he wanted to accomplish in rehab while still meeting the timeframe for planting at his farm. 

“Everything was great, the nutrition and the exercise program,” said Rogers. “They work with you on everything; it’s a very good program. Everyone was fantastic to work with, and they really keep your spirits up. And they’re very good at telling you where need to be and how to get there.” 

Rogers says that after rehab, he pays much closer attention to his diet, which has helped him lose weight, and keep it off.

“If you listen to what they say, you’re going to be okay,” said Rogers.To learn more about PCH’s expert cardiac rehab services, talk to your primary care provider or visit our Cardiopulmonary Services page.

Pender Community Hospital recently announced that it has received a $1 million USDA Emergency Rural Healthcare Grant to increase its telehealth capabilities through an improved electronic health record (EHR) system. The current EHR will be phased out in December 2022.

The new EHR will provide seamless integration of all patient data, from scheduling clinic appointments and completing registration to results from diagnostic lab work and x-rays; the new system will also allow for the quick and easy electronic transfer of medical records.

“Since the start of the pandemic, our patients have looked to do more online, and our board and community is requesting a more developed patient portal and telehealth services,” said Interim CEO Shane Schuster. “Our goal in procuring our new EHR is that we can provide services to all patients, regardless of their location.”

The new system improves the access and timeliness of patient records, which is critical to providing rural patients quality care close to home. The cost of the new EHR includes not only the purchase of the system itself, but also the appropriate hardware and training necessary to optimize the new system.

About Pender Community Hospital District
Pender Community Hospital (PCH) has been providing quality healthcare in northeast Nebraska since 1913. The 21-bed critical access hospital (CAH) was recognized by the Chartis Center for Rural Health as a Top-100 CAH for three consecutive years, from 2019-2021. PCH comprises not only the hospital but also several clinics and apothecaries, as well as Prairie Breeze Assisted Living and Little Sprouts Child Development Center. For more information, visit pchne.org.

Shane Schuster

Pender Community Hospital is pleased to announce Shane Schuster, current ancillary services director, will be stepping into the role of interim chief executive officer while the search for a permanent CEO continues.

“I am honored to be chosen by the Pender Community Hospital Board of Directors to serve as our facilities’ interim CEO,” said Shane Schuster. “I look forward to working with our medical providers and organization leaders to keep us moving forward as we continue our search for a permanent CEO.” 

Originally from Laurel, Nebraska, Schuster graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy in Omaha. He worked as a pharmacist for 12 years before joining Pender Community Hospital as The Apothecary Shop pharmacy manager in 2014. During his tenure as manager, Schuster led the opening of two additional retail pharmacy locations and optimized revenue opportunities through the federal 340B program. More recently, he was promoted to ancillary services director, overseeing hospital pharmacy, radiology, laboratory and rehab services, in addition to joining the administration team.

Schuster resides in Pender with his wife, Bev, who is also a pharmacist, and their two children. He’s very active in the community and volunteers on the Pender-Thurston Summer Rec Board of Directors and the Pender Booster Club. He also finds great joy helping to coach the sports teams his children are involved in. Schuster and his family are members of St. John’s Catholic Church in Pender.

Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Dr. Kneib attended the University of Missouri at Kansas City for his undergraduate degree. He earned his medical degree from the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, and completed his internship and residency in Urology at the University of Tennessee in Memphis.

Dr. Kneib is board certified with the American Board of Urology. He treats all types of urological issues and performs MRI Fusion Prostate biopsies. He will be available at Pender Community Hospital Outpatient Specialty Clinic every four weeks on Monday afternoons. Appointments may be scheduled by calling 402-385-4090.

Dr. Kneib has been in practice for more than 20 years. He is known for his professionalism and compassion, and is eager to bring his experience and skills to the community.

Pender Community Hospital is pleased to welcome Hearing Instrument Specialist Melisa Sternberg to our Outpatient Specialty Clinic.

Melisa graduated from Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska, as a Certified Nursing Assistant and Certified Medication Technician. She is also an EMT-B. A firm believer in continuing education, Melissa enrolled in the Rehabilitation Technician – Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapy program offered by SCC and, upon completion, ran a rehabilitation program.

From 2012-2018, Melisa was a practice liaison with a private audiology practice in Lincoln and joined Beltone Audiology and Hearing Center later that year. She has a background in all major hearing technology manufactures including Starkey, Phonak, Oticon and ReSound. Melisa’s commitment to helping patients is reflected in the many awards she has received, including Beltone Advanced Master Hearing Aid Practitioner in 2019; Consultant of the Year in 2018 and 2019; Senior Master Practitioner in 2020; and “Gage County Favorite” in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

In addition to her professional experience, Melisa makes patients feel comfortable through a special connection she shares with their families. “Being the spouse of a person with hearing loss allows me to better understand the challenges of my patients as well as the challenges of loved ones they live with,” says Melisa. “By helping the patient, I am thankful to also affect the lives of those around them.”

Melisa and her husband, Jason, have three children. She enjoys baking, traveling, water sports and most importantly, spending time with her family.

Pender Community Hospital is pleased to welcome new CFO Beth Wewel, MPA, and the new director of Little Sprouts Child Development Center, Ashley Tremayne-Ziska, to the community.

CFO Beth Wewel, MPA 

After graduating with a master’s degree in public administration, Beth accrued two decades of financial experience in the healthcare industry and continued her education, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Her combination of education and experience provides her with the skills necessary to successfully manage the financial needs of Pender Community Hospital.

In addition to working for multiple healthcare systems, Beth worked at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services where she helped increase revenue, streamline financial processes and balance budgets–all while helping to create an exceptional patient experience. Her talent for financial analysis, leadership and strategic planning make her ideal for Pender Community Hospital’s CFO position.

Beth is excited to join the community and enjoy the best that rural living has to offer.

Little Sprouts Director Ashley Tremayne-Ziska

Ashley is a mother of four and passionate about providing a nurturing and educational environment for children. She graduated from UNK with bachelor’s degrees in history and social science education with an emphasis in sociology and is pursuing a master’s degree in school counseling. 

After serving as the youth theater program director at the Sioux City Community Theater, Ashley was inspired to follow her passion to work with children and join the Little Sprouts team. She is excited to find new ways to foster social and emotional development in children through educational and engaging programs.

Ashley enjoys meeting new people and is eager to get to know more families in the community.

Beat the Rush: Back-to-School Physicals

Summer break means long lazy days, life at a slower pace, and the past school year seems to be but a memory. Yet, the clock is ticking on the new school year. Make back-to-school a breeze by scheduling your child’s wellness physicals at one of our medical clinics. 

All children develop differently, both physically and mentally. Wellness appointments track physical and mental growth, screen developmental progress, and provide crucial vaccinations to protect your child from serious diseases. Therefore, wellness physicals are a great way to gauge your child’s overall health and development. 

As children age, they should be seeing their primary care provider for an annual checkup. These exams include a physical checkup and time to discuss topics like your child’s sleep, safety, and growth stages. As your child matures, wellness visits provide an opportunity to talk to your primary care provider about additional resources and services available to help your child grow up healthy and happy.

Annual wellness visits also create an opportunity to build relationships between your family and your primary care provider, which is an essential step for your child’s future. A team approach to family health is the best approach. Plus, insurance typically covers yearly wellness visits, so take advantage of the preventative care your child needs and deserves by calling one of our medical clinics to schedule your child’s checkup today.  

Pender Medical Clinic: 402.385.3033
Bancroft Medical Clinic: 402.648.7606
Beemer Medical Clinic: 402.528.3288
Emerson Medical Clinic: 402.695.2453

Know Before You Go
What Your Child Should Expect at their Wellness Physical:

  •  Height and weight measurements
  • Growth milestones and how they compare with appropriate growth charts
  • Developmental milestones
  • Vital signs, including blood pressure and heart rate
  • A urine specimen may be collected 
  • Eating and exercise habits discussion
  • Vaccinations

What You Should Bring to the Appointment:

  • Physical Form for School/Sports, if available and necessary
  • Family medical history
  • List of allergies
  • Questions you or your child have

So, don’t delay! Get your child in for care and start the new school year off with a clean bill of health. All of our primary care providers are currently welcoming new patients.

It’s happening! Summer is nearly here and soon fun in the sun will be in full swing. The longer days mean more opportunities to go outside to enjoy the weather–but as fun as summer is, there’s nothing fun about skin cancer. Before you head out to hike, swim, garden or enjoy summer sports, remember to protect your skin from harmful rays that can lead to skin cancer. 

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the nation, yet most cases are preventable. Skin cancer can be disfiguring and lead to expensive medical bills. Get to know your skin so you can notice changes that may indicate a problem. Discuss changes of moles or areas of your skin with your primary care provider. If you have a lesion for more than four weeks and it changes color or grows, call your provider and have it checked. Early detection is critical to treat–and beat–skin cancer. 

To better understand and detect skin cancer, learn the three most common forms: 

Squamous cell. Usually caused by sun exposure, squamous cell skin cancer appears on different parts of the skin. Squamous cell is a wart-like growth with a rough surface and a depression in the center. This type of skin cancer can also develop sores that stay open for weeks.

Melanoma. The most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma is very deadly. Melanoma looks like a new mole but with a more unusual appearance. The mole may have uneven, ragged edges with shades that range from tan to black. The biggest indicator of melanoma is if the mole is constantly changing.

Basal cell. Caused by sun exposure, basal cell skin cancer will look like a reddish patch on the skin that itches more than hurts. It is a growth with an undefined border and could be red, pink or white. Basal cell spots can become open sores that bleed or crust without closing for many weeks. 

Soak up the fun–not the sun
Of course, don’t let fear prevent you from enjoying lovely weather. There are so many health benefits to getting outside and becoming more active. Simply learn what to do–and what to avoid–and enjoy your moments in the sun safely!

Sun Exposure Facts:

  • There’s no benefit to getting a base tan. Getting a tan before serious exposure to the sun does NOT provide protection against increased risk of skin cancer.
  • There’s no such thing as a healthy tan. Tan skin is damaged skin. Even without a sunburn, tanning still damages the DNA in your skin. The more you damage your skin, the greater the risk of skin cancer. In other words, tanning causes skin cancer. 
  • EVERYONE needs sunscreen. The daily use of an SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce squamous cell carcinoma risk by 40 percent and the risk of melanoma by 50%.
  • Direct exposure to the sun? Use sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher. People out in direct sun should wear an SPF 30 or higher, applied 30 minutes prior to exposure and re-applied every two hours.
  • Sunscreen is not just for a day at the beach. Sun damage happens whenever you are outside. If you’re doing yardwork, watching a baseball game or simply enjoying summer reading on the patio, the sun is just as damaging and dangerous. Wear sunscreen whenever you’re outside. 
  • Indoor tanning is not safer. Just one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of developing skin cancer; the risk of melanoma increases by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma increases by 29%.
  • Protection beyond sunscreen. There are other ways to protect yourself from the sun–wear sun hats, coverings, long sleeves and stay in the shade to help reduce the risk of skin-damaging tanning and sunburn.

Discuss your skin with your primary care provider 
If you have questions about your skin or a spot, please contact your healthcare provider to schedule an appointment.
Again, early detection is critical to treat–and beat–skin cancer. 

Everyone under the sun needs protection
It’s easy to overlook these basic reminders but remember: a tan today could mean skin cancer in the future. Take a little extra time to apply–and reapply–sunscreen and use it every time you’re outside. Don’t miss a day; don’t miss a spot. You’ll appreciate the time you took to keep your skin healthier, more youthful looking and help prevent a very serious, even deadly, cancer.  

1 American Academy of Dermatology indoor tanning fact sheet. Accessed April, 2018.

Pender Community Hospital received the 2021 Top 100 Critical Access Hospital honor, making this the third year in a row that the healthcare system has been recognized with the distinction. Compiled by The Chartis Center for Rural Health, this 11thannual recognition program honors outstanding performance among the nation’s rural hospitals based on the results of the Hospital Strength INDEX®.

Dr. Cole Reha, medical director for Pender Community Hospital, shared his thoughts on the recognition. “I’m so proud of our team’s hard work and dedication,” he said. “This distinction is something we never take lightly; it’s a true reflection of the strong commitment of everyone who works at Pender Community Hospital and Clinics, and also a reflection of our supportive community,” he continued. “We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality care and serving as a resource our community knows they can trust. We’re very honored to be among this elite group of healthcare providers.”   

“The Top 100 program continues to illuminate strategies and innovation for delivering higher quality care and better outcomes within rural communities,” said Michael Topchik, national leader of The Chartis Center for Rural Health. “We are delighted to be able to spotlight the efforts of these facilities through the INDEX framework.”

Over the course of the last 11 years, the INDEX has grown to become the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance. Based entirely on public data and utilizing 36 independent indicators, the INDEX assesses rural hospitals across eight pillars of performance, including market share, quality, outcomes, patient perspective, cost, charge, and financial efficiency. The INDEX framework is widely used across the nation by independent rural hospitals, health systems with rural footprints and state offices of rural health, which provide access to INDEX analytics through grant-funded initiatives.