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Michigan Rural Health Conference


The Michigan Center for Rural Health (MCRH) has hosted the Michigan Rural Health Conference since 1997. The conference is of interest to a broad range of rural stakeholder and aims to provide engaging education on relevant topics for rural health providers. The conference is targeted towards those working in rural health, including rural health clinics and hospital settings. In addition, stakeholders from local public health, community mental health, substance use disorder treatment centers, and organizations working to positively impact social drivers of health are targeted.

Continuing education certificates are provided for social work, and community health workers. 

The objectives of this conference include:

1. Provide an opportunity for rural health stakeholders to share and learn from each other.

2. Provide a networking and collaboration opportunity for rural health stakeholders.

3. Provide current and relevant information to rural health stakeholders


26th Annual Rural Health Conference Presentations

Federal Update on Rural Health Issues

Effective Strategies for Engagement with People Experiencing Homelessness 

RHC-FQHC Coding and Billing Update for 2023

The Importance of Chronic Care Management in the Rural Community 

Care Huddles: Leading the Shift from Fee to Value

Migrant & Seasonal Farmworkers: Enhancing the Delivery of Services

Michigan Endowment Funding and Grantee Updates

Libraries as Mental Health Hubs

Rural Health Equity, Poverty, and Rural Resilience

Making Scientific Information Usable: Development and Assessment of a Novel Intervention to Boost Healthy Lifestyle Decision-Making

An EHR-Based Population Assessment of Chronic Kidney Disease in Rural Communities of Northern Michigan 

Trends of a Rural ER Utilization and Hospitalization Rate of those Experiencing Homelessness in Traverse City Following Implementation of a Street Outreach Program

Barriers and Opportunities for Remote CHW Programs in Rural Michigan

Grants that Amplify the Reach of Telemedicine 

Workforce Innovation: Building your Pipeline for an Apprenticeship Program

Workforce Innovation: Building your Pipeline for an Apprenticeship Program Pt. 2

Health Law Update

Elevating Quality and Satisfaction in Your RHC with PCMH

Opioid Settlement Funds: State and Local Perspectives

Addressing Food Insecurity as a Social Determinant of Health: Challenges and Interventions in Rural Michigan

Confidence at RHC Survey

Introduction to the Office of Rural Development

Photo of Crystal Barter, John Barnas, and Mariah Hesse

2023 Rural Health Professional of the Year Winner

MCRH was honored to present the 2023 Rural Health Professional of the Year award to Mariah Hesse, CNO, of
Sparrow Clinton Hospital.

The award has been presented since 1994 to individuals deserving of recognition for their efforts in carrying out exemplary work in promoting health in rural areas, showing excellent leadership in the improvement of healthcare services to the rural areas of Michigan, and making worthy contributions to the improvement of health for the people in
rural Michigan.

Congratulations, Mariah! Your passion and tireless dedication to improving rural health in Michigan are an inspiration!


Learn More

Rural Health Professionals of Years Past

In Honor of Loren O. Gettel

Previous Award Winners:

2023 Mariah Hesse, CNO of Sparrow Clinton Hospital

2022 Emily Bergquist, MDHHS Bureau of EMS, Trauma and Preparedness & Sam Watson, Michigan Health & Hospital Association & Julie Novak, Michigan State Medical Society & Philip Bergquist, Michigan Primary Care Association & Keisha Sexton, Michigan Rural Health Clinic Network & Kris Nicholoff, Michigan Osteopathic Association & Norm Hess, Michigan Association of Local Public Health

2021- No Award

2020 Duke Anderson, President, CEO, Hillsdale Community Health Center

2019 Mark Hamed, MD, MBA, MPH, Medical Director of McKenzie Health System’s ED/Hospitalist program, Medical Director for Public Health in Sanilac, Tuscola, Huron and Lapeer counties

2018 Andrea Wendling, M.D., Director of Rural Community Health, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University

2017 John Barnas, Executive Director, Michigan Center for Rural Health

2016 Brian Brasser, President, Spectrum Health United and Kelsey Hospitals.

2015 Steve Barnett, President & CEO, McKenzie Health System

2014 Donna Kubic, Managing Director, Beaver Island Rural Health Clinic

2013 Colleen Johnson, Practice Administrator, Lakeshore Medical Centers

Full List of Winners