IUP & IRMC continue season 2 of the Rural Health Pulse Podcast


IRMC contact information: Annie Rizzo, Director, Marketing & Community Relations, arizzo@indianarmc.org, 724-357-7188
IUP contact information: Christina Koren, Director of Strategic Partnerships, ckoren@iup.edu; 724-464-9864

Distribution Date: March 1, 2024

INDIANA, Pa – Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Indiana Regional Medical Center (IRMC)’s podcast, Rural Health Pulse, continues with an episode discussing how social determinants of health and other barriers such as food insecurity, transportation, and insurance coverage significantly impact access to quality healthcare in a rural setting.

The Rural Health Pulse podcast is available for free on Spotify and from the IRMC website.

The podcasts include professionals from IRMC and from IUP and is recorded by students in the IUP Department of Communications Media under the direction of communications faculty member Dr. Mark Piwinsky and produced by IUP Director of Strategic Partnerships Christina Koren. Dr. Jim Kinneer, IRMC Chief Human Resources Officer, serves as the host for the shows.

The Rural Health Pulse podcast is part of a continued collaboration between IUP and IRMC on the topic of rural health care, focusing on issues and stories impacting the health of the region and programs and initiatives designed to improve healthcare and wellness.

This current episode (episode two of season two of the podcast) features IRMC Director of Ambulatory Social Services Rachel Grove and Clinical Care Coordinator at IRMC Physician Group Jonathan Hunte. Grove and Hunte will discuss how they work on a daily basis to help break down barriers to enable patients to overcome challenges in order that they can access services and resources in the local community.

Grove is a clinical social worker in the primary care setting, working to assist patients across the lifespan on the health care continuum. She has been working for 25 years in the Indiana community. She believes in treating the whole person by providing support for unmet needs, integrating mental health and addiction treatment in the primary health setting to better treat people in our community. Grove believes in meeting an individual where they are and working with them to make the lifestyle and behavioral changes needed to enhance their wellbeing. She is an active member of Suicide Taskforce for Indiana County and a member of the Rural Health Redesign Center Authority Clinical Sub-Committee to support provide direction on clinical strategies to improve rural health care. Grove has a master’s degree in adult and community education from IUP and a master’s degree in social work from Edinboro. She grew up living on a sailboat.

Along with coordinating a patient’s care, Hunte helps direct people to resources including medical insurance, food, transportation, and mental health services. He is currently part of the Indiana County Collective Impact Working Group that helps address the food insecurity in Indiana County and has a background in research about food insecurity and poverty. He has a master’s degree in sociology from IUP. He loves to travel and his latest adventure was to Ireland this past fall.

Upcoming episode topics planned for season two include tickborne diseases; IUP research; the Pennsylvania Mountains Rural Health Conference highlights; the IUP Institute for Rural Health; rural emergency medical services-Citizens Ambulance; stream water conservation; and the proposed IUP college of osteopathic medicine.

Season two of the podcast was launched Nov. 16, 2023 as part of IUP and IRMC’s National Rural Health Day events.  Episode one of season two featured Nick Jacobs, of Windber, co-founder and president of the Windber Research Institute (now The Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Molecular Medicine in Windber), and the founder of the Clinical and Translational Genome Research Institute, a research institute that is now part of Southern California University of Health Sciences in Los Angeles. Jacobs is also a consultant with the United States Department of Defense Clinical Breast Care Project.

This episode, “Promoting Integrative Wellness in a Rural Community,” features Jacobs and Dr. Kinneer discussing the realm of complete holistic wellness, offering insights into health prevention and wellness strategies developed during Jacob’s tenure as a hospital executive, providing a holistic perspective on healthcare and encouraging innovative thinking for rural communities, particularly when considering the topic of wellness.

The episode also explores the potential of a rural health model that leverages natural and local resources to benefit communities, highlights the importance of interconnecting academic program disciplines in colleges and universities to foster collaboration and drive innovation in rural healthcare.

The Rural Health Pulse podcast was launched in November 2022 in celebration of National Rural Health Day. Dr. Amanda Vaglia, family medicine physician and director of the IRMC Residency Program, is featured on the first episode of season one of the series, discussing the residency program.

Episode two of the podcast is an interview with Dr. Narayanaswamy Bharathan, chair, IUP Department of Biology, and Jackie Sansig, IRMC director of Laboratory and Respiratory Services, discussing the evolution of the same-day COVID-19 testing process at IRMC by Dr. Bharathan, and the difference it made in patient care.

Episode three features Dr. Rick Adkins, professor of mathematics in the IUP Department of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, discussing the community wastewater surveillance system. Indiana Borough has had a sewer surveillance program with Biobot Analytics, Inc., since April 2020. Weekly flow samples are collected over a 24-hour period at the headwaters of the wastewater plant and sent to BioBot Analytics.

Episode four has IRMC’s Dr. Dan Clark, director of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery and director of IRMC’s Comprehensive Breast Center, discussing robotics in surgery. Since coming to IRMC, Dr. Clark has been integral in IRMC’s successfully obtaining a second da Vinci Xi robotic surgery system. Dr. Clark serves as a national proctor for robotic surgery and plays an important role in certifying robotic skills competency.

IRMC’s five family medicine residents — Dr. Nawar Al Janabi, of Baghdad, Iraq; Dr. Tanvi Bharathan, of Indiana; Dr. Mohit Chhatpar, of New York; Dr. Robin Rodriguez, of Corpus Christi, Texas; and Dr. Narinder Sangha, of California. – are featured on episode five of the podcast.

Episode six interviews Dr. Clark presenting an overview of breast cancer medical education and care from IRMC. Dr. Clark has more than 25 years of breast cancer experience and more than 12 years of experience with genetic counseling. In this role, Dr. Clark serves as a breast surgeon as well as a genetic counselor.

Episode seven features Dr. Steve Hovan, dean of IUP’s John J. and Char Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and IUP Distinguished University Professor, discussing IUP’s John J. and Char Kopchick Hall, home to the Kopchick College.

Episode eight is an interview with Wendy Haislip, IRMC Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, discussing Pennsylvania’s rural health model and workforce challenges.

Episode nine features Erin Clark, director of IUP’s Speech and Hearing Clinic and assistant professor in the IUP Department of Communication Disorders, Special Education, and Disability Services.

Season one concludes with episode 10, a discussion with Katie Donald, marketing and public relations specialist at Punxsutawey Area Hospital, discussing rural healthcare models and challenges.


IUP is a member of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education


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