Category: News

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.

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.

Pender Community Hospital is pleased to welcome Josh Ridder, PA-C, to its outpatient specialty clinic, where he will see pulmonology patients twice a month.

Ridder earned his degree as a physician’s assistant at Pennsylvania College of Technology, a Penn State affiliate located in Williamsport, Pa. and earned his certification from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

Ridder is particularly interested in pulmonary medicine and sleep medicine, which focuses on the diagnosis and therapy of sleep disorders. As a former respiratory therapist, Ridder worked in the intensive care unit at Creighton University Medical Center, where he had the opportunity to work with pulmonology and critical care patients; this experience led Ridder to pursue a degree as a certified physician assistant.

“My favorite part about medicine is interacting with patients,” said Ridder. “Being able to build a rapport with people and helping them understand their disease process is a rewarding experience for me. “    

The Pender Community Hospital Outpatient Specialty Clinic is staffed with caring, well-trained healthcare providers who are prepared to meet the medical needs of patients. Call the Pender Community Hospital Respiratory Department at 402-385-4059 to schedule an appointment with Josh Ridder.

Josh Ridder PA-C
Josh Ridder, PA-C

Pender Community Hospital is pleased to welcome interventional cardiologist Mir Rauf Subla, MD, FACC, FSCAI to its outpatient specialty clinic.

Dr. Subla is quadruple board-certified in internal medicine, critical care medicine, cardiology and interventional cardiology. Dr. Subla completed a Heart Failure Fellowship at Cleveland Clinic, as well as a Cardiovascular disease Fellowship at Mayo Clinic, where he also served as an assistant professor of medicine in the College of Medicine and Science in the Division of Cardiology and Critical Care.

“Every patient I see is a new book: a unique person with symptoms or needs as individualized as the person themselves,” Subla said, according to Siouxland Heart and Vascular Center. “I want to work with my patients to find just the right course of treatment for their lives. When I can help my patients and see that huge relief for them and their families, that’s really satisfying.”

In addition, Dr. Subla performs all major interventional procedures including TAVR, Mitra Clip, Watchmen, CardioMEMS and EKOS.

At Pender Community Hospital, we’re committed to providing high-quality heart and vascular care close to home for our patients. To provide this care, we utilize state-of-the-art technology and have a qualified cardiology team at our Outpatient Specialty Clinic. To make an appointment with Dr. Subla, call 402-385-4090.

Dr. Subla
Mir Rauf Subla, MD, FACC, FSCAI

Pender Community Hospital is pleased to welcome orthopedic surgeon Dr. Justin Deans to its skilled surgical team. Dr. Deans specializes in hip and knee replacement procedures.

Dr. Deans earned his bachelor’s degree in neuroscience at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and a master’s degree in physiology from Georgetown University before completing his medical degree at Touro University Nevada. He then finished his orthopedic surgery internship at Larkin Community Hospital in South Miami, followed by a residency at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, Calif.

In addition, Dr. Deans is fellowship trained in adult reconstruction and joint replacement surgery following his studies at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Dr. Deans is board-eligible with the American Osteopathic Board of Orthopedic Surgery, and is licensed in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

Among the services PCH’s orthopedic department offers are state-of-the-art CT and MRI imaging, knee pain management, knee scopes, carpal tunnel surgeries, minimally invasive shoulder procedures, and hip and knee joint replacement. Call 402-385-4090 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Deans, or learn more at pchne.org/GetMoving.

Justin Deans, D.O.

Legacy Garden Rehabilitation & Living Center in Pender, Nebraska has announced their planned closure of May 14th, 2022, after exhausting all efforts to keep the facility open.

“We are extremely saddened to be closing the doors of our long-term rehabilitation and living center, operated by the Pender Community Hospital District,” said Mike Minert, chairman of the board for the Pender Community Hospital District and Pender Care Centre District Board of Directors. “The staffing crisis of healthcare workers has deeply affected our organization. We have reached a point that we are at risk of being unable to provide the quality of care our residents deserve with the number of staff we have. Our resident safety is our number one concern and will continue to be as we work through this transition.”

Legacy Garden Rehabilitation and Living Center has provided care to those in the community for over 50 years in its current facility. This closure is one of many across the nation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next 60 days, staff will be assisting 18 residents and their families transition to area skilled care facilities of their choice, as part of the closure plan with the State of Nebraska.

“We cannot thank our Legacy Garden staff enough for the sacrifice they have made and the commitment that they have shown to our organization and our residents. They have made such a lasting impact on our residents and their quality of life,” said Minert. “All 15 full-time and part-time Legacy Garden staff are being asked to continue to work and receive their current pay through the transition period. Legacy Garden staff are encouraged to review and apply for current job openings at Pender Community Hospital. Staff that continue to successfully perform their duties throughout the transition will be supported in a number of ways, including a stay/severance package.”

Pender Community Hospital welcomes wound care specialist Janis Harrison, RN, BSN, CWOCN, CFCN, to our Outpatient Specialty Clinic in Pender. Harrison, owner of Harrison W.O.C. Services is now seeing patients at the outpatient specialty clinic each Wednesday.

In addition to operating her own wound care business, Harrison works as an independent contractor for medical entities throughout northeast Nebraska, caring for patients with wounds, ostomies, continence, and foot and nail needs. Harrison is a graduate of Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, and has more than 30 years of experience as a nurse, including 12 years as a certified wound, ostomy, continence nurse (CWOCH) and certified foot care nurse (CFCN).

Harrison is also involved in the educational aspect of wound care: Along with acting as a consultant, she writes case studies, poster abstracts, and newsletters, and is the chief clinical consultant for WoundRight, a mobile application for wound care management.

Harrison looks forward to providing comprehensive and effective care to patients with all types of wounds. To schedule an appointment, please call the Outpatient Specialty Clinic at 402-385-4090.

Janis Harrison, RN, BSN, CWOCN, CFCN

Pender Community Hospital is pleased to welcome Dr. Hemantha Koduri to our Outpatient Specialty Clinic in Pender.

Dr. Koduri completed an internal medicine residency at the University of Illinois’ St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago, and then worked as an assistant professor of medicine and teaching hospitalist in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Chicago. He completed fellowship training in vascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic; he then finished fellowship training in general cardiovascular medicine at Creighton University, Omaha, NE. Following his general cardiology training, he joined Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center, where he graduated in interventional vascular, cardiology and structural heart diseases.

Dr. Koduri is board certified in internal medicine, vascular medicine, vascular imaging, echocardiography, nuclear cardiology, general cardiovascular medicine and interventional cardiovascular medicine.
Dr. Koduri has expertise in treating patients with thrombosis, hypertension, lipid disorders, heart rhythm abnormalities, heart attacks, heart valve and structural disorders, heart failure, and blockages in blood vessels of the neck, arms, legs, abdomen including aorta, kidney arteries and varicose veins. He performs high-risk coronary and peripheral arterial interventions including chronic total occlusions (CTO) for revascularization, transcatheter aortic valve replacement, venous ablation and stenting.

Dr. Koduri will see patients on the 1st Friday of every month. He looks forward to providing comprehensive and effective care to patients with all types of vascular disease. To schedule an appointment, please call 402-385-4090.

Pender Community Hospital is pleased to welcome Dr. Steve Henao to our Hospital Outpatient Specialty Clinic in Pender.

Dr. Henao obtained his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch and was a Southern Medical Association scholar. He completed his residency at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and subsequently completed his fellowship in vascular and endovascular surgery at Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr Henao is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Surgery, Vascular Surgery. He is highly respected in his field, providing minimally invasive vascular surgery utilizing cutting-edge technology.

As a vascular surgeon, Dr. Henao treats all veins and arteries outside of the brain and heart. Common conditions include abdominal aortic aneurysm, carotid artery disease, peripheral arteriole disease, thoracic outlet syndrome, varicose veins and spider veins, limb preservation and wound treatment, pulmonary embolisms, deep vein thrombosis, dialysis access and hyperhidrosis.

Dr. Henao looks forward to providing comprehensive and effective care to patients with all types of vascular disease. To schedule an appointment, please call 402-385-4090.

Dr. Steve Henao

Pender Medical Clinics today announced it has been named a 2021 Guardian of Excellence Award® winner by Press Ganey, the national leader in healthcare consumer and workforce engagement. Press Ganey recognizes Pender Medical Clinics as a top-performing healthcare organization achieving the 95th percentile or above for performance in patient experience.

The Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award® is a preeminent, competitive achievement for leading healthcare organizations. Presented annually, the award applauds hospitals and health systems that consistently sustained performance in the top 5% of all Press Ganey clients.

“Press Ganey is honored to recognize Pender Medical Clinics as one of the nation’s leaders in patient experience,” said Patrick T. Ryan, chairman and chief executive officer, Press Ganey. “This award reflects an unwavering commitment to earn the trust and loyalty of patients throughout unimaginable challenges. We are humbled by Pender Medical Clinics’ incredible efforts, and their ability to adapt to imperatives of COVID-19 on top of the increasing demand for consumerism in healthcare.”

“We are so pleased to receive this prestigious award that recognizes the steadfast commitment our providers, nurses and staff have to our patients and our community,” said Shane Shuster, Pender Community Hospital interim CEO. “It’s a true honor to be chosen and we are grateful to receive this award recognizing our efforts.”

Director of Rural Health Clinics Lori Minert added: “Our team cares deeply about every patient, so it’s wonderful that their hard work and talent has been recognized with this patient experience award. We are fortunate to have such excellent staff and providers at Pender Medical Clinic and its satellites.”

To learn more about Pender Medical Clinics, including locations in Bancroft, Beemer and Emerson, visit www.pchne.org/facilities/medical-clinics/

About Press Ganey Press Ganey pioneered the health care performance improvement movement 35 years ago. Today Press Ganey offers an integrated suite of solutions that enable enterprise transformation across the patient journey. Delivered through a cutting-edge digital platform built on a foundation of data security, Press Ganey solutions address safety, clinical excellence, patient experience, and workforce engagement. The
company works with more than 41,000 health care facilities in its mission to reduce patient suffering and enhance caregiver resilience to improve the overall safety, quality, and experience of care.

About Pender Community Hospital District Pender’s hospital dates back to 1913. Over the years, the Pender Community Medical System has become a model of an effective Rural Health System. Through the loyalty and generous support of everyone making up the hospital district, plus the dedication of the medical staff, board of directors, and hospital staff, we continue to deliver top quality health care. Visit pchne.org to learn more.

Pender Community Hospital is pleased to welcome a new dermatology provider, Deb Baker, DNP, FNP-BC, to the outpatient specialty clinic in Pender.

Baker will offer a wide variety of dermatological services. She will treat skin conditions of the body including eczema, acne, mole removal, skin cancer and also help patients with concerns involving the hair, feet and nails. The licensed and board-certified nurse practitioner runs a practice in Fremont that specializes in medical, cosmetic and surgical dermatological services.

While dermatology has always been Deb Baker’s main interest, she has also worked in emergency medicine, intensive care and pediatric medicine. Baker has continued her education throughout her career and has earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Midland University, a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Creighton University, national certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and is also a member of the Dermatology Nurses Association.

Deb Baker will see patients every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month starting on November 1st. For an appointment call, Baker’s office at 402-936-6198 or to learn more about PCH’s dermatology services, call 402-385-4090 or visit pchne.org.

Deb Baker Headshot
Deb Baker, DNP, FNP-BC
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.

Pender Community Hospital & Medical Clinics welcomes Chelsea (Brinkman) Moore, PA-C to their list of providers. She will primarily care for patients in the PCH emergency department. As a passionate, skilled medical professional and native of Pender, she will be an invaluable asset to the healthcare system.

Chelsea recently graduated from UNMC and is excited to be able to start her career in the same place that rooted her desire to help others. Being born and raised in Pender made it an easy decision to return and give back to the community that has supported her throughout her education.

“The desire to help others and also expand my knowledge in the ever-changing field of medicine is what inspired me to become a Physician Assistant,” Chelsea shared.

Pender Community Hospital was the first critical access hospital in the state to offer robotic-assisted surgery, making expert care and state-of-the-art technology accessible where it’s closer for patients and their families. Relationships with outreach surgeons like Dr. Volz, combined with advanced technology, PCH provides patients with the expert services they need, and the local, personalized care they’ve always trusted.

She will be stepping into a new role at PCH that will further support their mission to provide the highest quality care for patients. Her main care focus will be within the ER, where she will provide daytime coverage four days a week and night coverage twice a month. This will allow other providers to focus on patients at the medical clinic. Chelsea will also provide clinic coverage as needed.

The addition of another full-time provider at PCH is a great benefit to patients, staff and the community.

In her downtime, Chelsea enjoys spending time with her husband Spencer, their corgi Archie, and friends and family. She also enjoys cooking, watching movies, reading books, and being outdoors as much as possible through camping and hiking.

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.

Pender Community Hospital welcomes Dr. Lawrence T. Volz, MD, FACS, of Midlands Clinic, who will provide general surgery services at the healthcare system. Dr. Volz’s vast medical experience and surgical expertise will give community members access to state-of-the-art surgical services, utilizing innovative technology that is usually found in much larger hospitals

An accomplished surgeon with 23 years of experience, Dr. Volz is proficient in robotic-assisted surgery and has utilized the technology in over 300 procedures. “Minimally invasive, robotic-assisted surgery has many advantages,” said Dr. Volz. “It allows surgeons to use great precision so incisions are smaller, healing is faster and scarring is minimal. Patients also experience less pain, so they don’t need strong medications, like opioids. And they can leave the hospital sooner to return to their normal lives.”

Dr. Volz graduated from Creighton University School of Medicine in Nebraska and completed a general surgery residency at Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts. In addition to robotic-assisted surgery, he performs other minimally invasive procedures, general surgery, laparoscopic procedures, hernia repair, gallbladder surgery, breast and abdominal surgeries and vascular access procedures. Dr. Volz holds medical licenses in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota and begins seeing patients at Pender Community Hospital this month. 

Pender Community Hospital was the first critical access hospital in the state to offer robotic-assisted surgery, making expert care and state-of-the-art technology accessible where it’s closer for patients and their families. Relationships with outreach surgeons like Dr. Volz, combined with advanced technology, PCH provides patients with the expert services they need, and the local, personalized care they’ve always trusted.

Pender Community Hospital Welcomes OB/GYN Physician and Three Behavioral Health Providers.

Pender Community Hospital in Pender, NE, welcomes four new providers to supplement care offerings for patients in the communities the PCH healthcare system serves.

Dr. Gregory Heidrick is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and specializes in operative gynecology. He is highly skilled in minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery. With over 30 years of expertise, his unique approach customizes procedures to fit the person, rather than using a one-size-fits-all standard, so every patient receives her most effective treatment. Providing this personalized care has enhanced Dr. Heidrick’s surgical repertoire and made him a pioneer, and leader, in OB/GYN procedures in the region. To date, Dr. Heidrick has performed more than 3,000 robotic-assisted procedures and looks forward to helping PCH patients. He will begin seeing patients at the PCH Outpatient Specialty Clinic every other Tuesday starting September 1.

Jenna Johnson, APRN-NP, will support the PCH behavioral health team, treating children, teens and young adults. Jenna will provide psychiatric evaluations and medication monitoring for patients ages 5 to 23 and believes in providing patient-centered care to help young people get the support they need to live their healthiest lives. She is currently seeing patients at the PCH Outpatient Specialty Clinic on the first Tuesday of each month.

Brooklee Tynes, PhD and clinical psychologist, will treat patients ages 5 to 19. Dr. Tynes conducts social/emotional, developmental and cognitive assessments for this younger patient group and also provides therapy services. She delivers evidence-based interventions to children, adolescents and their families to educate both the patients and their support systems, to better facilitate mental healing and meaningful behavior changes. Brooklee will see patients at the PCH Outpatient Specialty Clinic on the first Tuesday of each month.

Nikki Houlden, APRN-NP, will provide behavioral health care and support for adult and geriatric patients at PCH’s outpatient clinic. A strong advocate who believes that overall health is directly impacted by proper mental health care, Nikki will provide psychiatric evaluations and medication monitoring for patients over age 24. Nikki is currently seeing patients at the PCH Outpatient Specialty Clinic on the third Tuesday of each month.

“We are proud to enhance our already strong team at PCH with the addition of these experienced providers,” said Melissa Kelly, CEO of Pender Hospital Community. “They provide an incredible blend of education and knowledge and share PCH’s mission to provide exceptional healthcare services and compassionate patient care.”

For an appointment with our new OBGYN, Dr. Gregory Heidrick, call the PCH Outpatient Specialty Clinic at 402-385-4090. If you’re looking to set up an appointment with one of the new behavioral health providers, call the PCHBehavioral Health team at 402-385- 1898. Check with your insurance first to see if a referral is needed; if required, contact your primary care physician or any Pender Medical Clinic and ask about setting up the appropriate referrals.

About Pender Community Hospital District
Pender’s hospital dates back to 1913. Over the years, the Pender Community Medical System has become a model of an effective Rural Health System. Through the loyalty and generous support of everyone making up the hospital district, plus the dedication of the medical staff, board of directors, and hospital staff, we continue to deliver top quality health care.

Pender Community Hospital & Medical Clinics urge the community to be proactive when dealing with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The most important thing people can do right now is to stay home, wash your hands frequently and practice social distancing. Social distancing is a proven tool to stop or slow down the spread of contagious illnesses, such as COVID-19. To practice social distancing, avoid shaking hands, cancel large events, avoid large crowds, and keep a 6-foot distance between you and others.

“It’s critical that we take action now in order to protect our vulnerable population,” said Melissa Kelly, CEO. “Our community has a large, high-risk population that includes older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. Because of this, it’s imperative to take social distancing and self-isolation very seriously.”

For individuals who feel sick or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (symptoms include fever greater than 100.4, cough, shortness of breath, and sore throat) it’s essential that your entire family self-quarantine. If possible, the individual with symptoms should isolate separately within the home, staying in a separated bedroom and bathroom area. When your entire family is under self-quarantine, no one should leave the home unless medical care in needed. This is absolutely essential to avoid spreading this highly contagious virus. Plan to have other people drop off needed supplies outside to prevent the disease from spreading to others.

Pender Community Hospital & Medical Clinics also want community members to know that if you have mild symptoms that appear like a cold, such as sneezing, running nose, cough, sore throat, you don’t need to be seen by a provider immediately. Patients experiencing symptoms are first asked to self-quarantine their entire family at home. If symptoms continue for 3 days, are getting worse, you are having difficulties breathing and/or shortness of breath,contact Pender Medical Clinic to visit with a provider. From there, providers will screen over the phone to assess your risk level and determine next steps.

It’s hard to understand when looking at worldwide statistics what this means to our own community. To put it into perspective, Pender Community Hospital and Medical Clinics see roughly 12,000 unique patients over a 3-year period. Using this number as a baseline population, the data starts to paint a concerning picture. Based on information we have available it’s estimated that 30 to 70% of our population will be infected with COVID-19. Of those, 10% would require hospitalization. In addition, 3% would need an ICU bed. These generic percentages don’t account for the increased at-risk population within our community compared to others.

Pender Community Hospital is a 21-bed facility and doesn’t have the same amount of resources as larger facilities. Even though PCH does provide services that rival those of larger facilities, when faced with a global pandemic, there simply aren’t enough resources to serve a large influx of patients at once, which could happen if people do not take social distancing, self-quarantining, and other measures to slow the spread seriously

In addition, the staff at PCH is smaller, so if predictions are correct, the hospital doesn’t have the bandwidth to support the estimated patients who could need care, at one time, if the community is not proactive. Pender Community Hospital and Clinics want to make sure that those who need medical attention will have healthy staff available to properly care for them.

PCH stresses that the intent of this information isn’t to scare anyone, but rather to reinforce the magnitude of the situation we are currently facing. People have a very real and important impact on helping our healthcare system, our healthcare providers, our community, and helping to avoid a potential crisis. Please, stay in. Practice social distancing. Finally, if you are sick, self-quarantine is not only important, but vital to protecting yourself and others in this wonderful community that we all share.

About Pender Community Hospital District
Pender’s hospital dates back to 1913. Over the years, the Pender Community Medical System has become a model of an effective Rural Health System. Through the loyalty and generous support of everyone making up the hospital district, plus the dedication of the medical staff, Board of Directors, and hospital staff, we continue to deliver top quality health care.

Pender Community Hospital in Pender, NE today announced it has been named a 2020 Top 100 Critical Access Hospital by The Chartis Center for Rural Health. This annual award honoring rural hospital performance is determined by the results of iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength INDEX®, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2020.

“We are honored to be recognized as a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital,” said Melissa Kelly, CEO. “I whole-heartedly believe that this great achievement is the byproduct of the hard working, dedicated physicians and staff at Pender Community Hospital. We have high expectations as an organization, and together, we can achieve great things.”

Based entirely on publicly available data, the INDEX is the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance. Utilizing 50 independent indicators, the INDEX assesses performance across eight pillars of performance that span market-, value- and finance-based categories. Hospitals recognized as a Top 100 facility had one of the 100 highest overall scores among all Critical Access Hospitals nationally.

“The Top 100 Critical Access Hospital award program reminds us that rural providers haven’t lost touch with their mission and are committed to delivering better quality, better outcomes and better patient satisfaction. It’s a pleasure to be able to not only recognize this year’s recipients, but our larger group of top 100 alumni as we celebrate 10 years of The Hospital Strength INDEX,” said Michael Topchik, National Leader, The Chartis Center for Rural Health.

Top 100 Hospital Resources:

The list of this year’s Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals as well as the INDEX methodology can be found at www.ivantageindex.com/top-performing-hospitals.

To learn more about The Chartis Center for Rural Health or to speak with someone regarding the INDEX and the Top 100, please email Billy Balfour at wbalfour@chartis.com.

About Pender Community Hospital District
Pender’s hospital dates back to 1913. Over the years, the Pender Community Medical System has become a model of an effective Rural Health System. Through the loyalty and generous support of everyone making up the hospital district, plus the dedication of the medical staff, Board of Directors, and hospital staff, we continue to deliver top quality health care.

Pender Community Hospital is now certified as a Level 4 Trauma Center by the Nebraska Statewide Trauma System. “We have always done our best to provide great care for our trauma patients,” said Pender Community Hospital Trauma Coordinator, Kristin Salmon, MSN, RN. Now that the hospital is a certified Level 4 Trauma Center, its heightened status elevates the care that the ER team can provide. “A lot of work goes into obtaining this certification, but the requirements are things that make us better as a team and better prepared to care for any trauma patient that comes through our door,” Salmon continues.

The Nebraska Statewide Trauma System standardizes trauma care throughout the state, and a Level 4 distinction means that Pender Community Hospital can now provide basic trauma care, from treating minor traumas to stabilizing major traumas prior to transfer to a higher level of care. In order to receive the certification, PCH had to meet rigid criteria, particularly in performance improvement, nurse and provider education, and community outreach education.

Pender Community Hospital Trauma Director Dr. Matthew Felber emphasized that providing the best in patient care is the real impetus for pursuing the elevated certification. “The ER staff is constantly striving for any way that we can improve upon the already great care given here,” he stated. Dr. Felber also credits the hard work and tremendous collaboration of the ER staff and the entire PCH team who ensured that everything was expertly executed.

The intense certification process included the consultation by Nebraska representatives who review facility policy, clinical capabilities, qualifications, facility and resource capabilities, radiology and laboratory services, performance improvement and prevention strategies.

“Being recognized as a basic trauma center gives us more educational opportunities for our staff,” added Salmon, “and helps us keep up with the latest in trauma care best practices. It also provides us with guidelines for performance improvement which is necessary to provide the best care possible for our patients.”

Pender Community Hospital Emergency Room is located at 100 Hospital Drive in Pender, NE and is open at all times to assist patients.

About Pender Community Hospital District
Pender’s hospital dates back to 1913. Over the years, the Pender Community Medical System has become a model of an effective Rural Health System. Through the loyalty and generous support of everyone making up the hospital district, plus the dedication of the medical staff, Board of Directors, and hospital staff, we continue to deliver top quality health care.

Pender Community Hospital a 2020 Women’s Choice Award Recipient as one of America’s Best Hospital for Obstetrics

Pender Community Hospital announced it has received a 2020 Women’s Choice Award as one of America’s Best Hospitals for Obstetrics. Only 10% of hospitals meet the robust qualifications to achieve this certification which identifies a health care organization as a stand-out for providing superior obstetric care.

Pender Community Hospital prides itself on providing patients with a complete maternity and birthing experience and has delivered over 100 babies in 2019 alone. From included prenatal classes for everyone who delivers at PCH to beautiful private birthing suites with warm, yet modern décor and plenty of room for guests, Pender has facilities that rival much larger health care centers. Pender Community Hospital credits its talented and devoted staff, with four physicians available to deliver babies, as their greatest asset, but their commitment to ensuring that patients receive the best care doesn’t stop there. Full-service maternity care at Pender also includes a Level I nursery and close coordination with regional Neonatal Intensive Care Units to ensure baby’s safety. 

Pender’s commitment to quality care continues after baby is born as well. Experienced nurses are always on staff to answer questions, provide breastfeeding help and assist mother and baby. The on-staff Certified Lactation Counselor gives advanced breastfeeding guidance to those who want or need extra advice or assistance. Also, patients go home with a sense of security knowing that the care provided by the compassionate staff doesn’t end after check-out. Parents can call Pender’s nursing staff with questions, day or night, so help is just a phone call away at any time. 

Pender Community Hospital is at 100 Hospital Drive Pender, NE. For an appointment or more information about what makes PCH obstetrics one of the 2020 Women’s Best Award recipients, call 402-385-3083 or visit our OB/Maternity page.

About Pender Community Hospital District
Pender’s hospital dates back to 1913. Over the years, the Pender Community Medical System has become a model of an effective Rural Health System. Through the loyalty and generous support of everyone making up the hospital district, plus the dedication of the medical staff, board of directors, and hospital staff, we continue to deliver top quality health care.