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PHOENIX — On Day 2 of the Rural Health Care Leadership Conference, keynote speaker Pamela Knecht challenged attendees to rethink the governance skills suitable for today’s increasingly integrated health care dynamic. In what would ideally be a “continuum of care,” she said, leaders must work more collaboratively throughout their industries and democratically within their organizations to truly integrate their services.

Knecht may have been this close to preaching to the choir — rural hospitals are all but forced to adopt collaborative mindsets and think outside the box these days. Richard Cooper, chair of the National Healthcare Practice Group of the law firm McDonald Hopkins, noted that rural trustees tend to be fiercely invested in their hospitals’ operations and are no strangers to “rolling up their sleeves and getting hands-on” with their duties.

“Rural board members are much more willing [than their non-rural counterparts] to get involved,” Cooper said. “Once a problem has been identified, that characteristic of a rural board can actually be an asset to getting it solved.”

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