UnityPoint Health – Grinnell Represents Rural Health Care on National Stage


GRMC Featured at American Hospital Association Annual Meeting


(GRINNELL, Iowa – May 1, 2023) In recent months, UnityPoint Health® – Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC) has been at the forefront of the healthcare conversation, representing rural hospitals and advocating for the needs of UnityPoint Health – Grinnell’s team members, patients and communities. Rural health care faces unique challenges, a combination of geography, staffing and varying patient volumes. In the United States, 180 rural hospitals have closed since 2005.1

GRMC has been featured on the national stage multiple times this year, most recently in the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) 2023 Annual Membership Meeting with a leading role in AHA’s We Are Hospitals video, and with Jennifer Havens, RN, MHA, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer of GRMC, as a featured panelist during the Evolving Systems of Care for the Future discussion session of the annual meeting.

“It was an honor to represent GRMC and rural health care at the Annual Meeting,” says Jennifer Havens, CEO of GRMC. “The meeting offers the opportunity to meet with federal representatives and advocate for hospital issues. I had the privilege to share in front of other rural and urban health care leaders, hospital associations from across the country, members of Congress, former White House executives and representatives from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as well as Veterans Affairs and tell them what is going on at GRMC, what struggles rural health care is facing and what successes we’re celebrating.”

In the AHA’s video, UnityPoint Health – Grinnell was showcased as the rural healthcare voice, featuring three exceptional healthcare professionals representing maternal health, physical therapy and emergency medical services (EMS): Cherish Hansen, BSN, RNC-MNN; Thomas Lair, DPT, OCS; and a partner in our rural health region, Traci Smith, Paramedic, Director of East Poweshiek Ambulance Service, GRMC trustee.

In rural health care, the roles above are often different in practice than a role of the same name in an urban setting. Obstetrics (OB) nurses at GRMC provide the full spectrum of labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum care for both the mom and newborn. The UnityPoint Health – Grinnell occupational and physical therapists work together to provide inpatient care, recovery and education, outpatient therapy services, in-home patient therapy and community partnerships which include sideline coverage at area athletic events. The majority of EMS in rural Iowa are largely staffed by volunteers. In the state of Iowa, 14 EMS departments have closed from 2020-2023 due to lack of personnel.2

Havens also appeared in an AHA Leadership Dialogue Series in February, speaking to attendees about the distinct challenges facing rural hospitals and access to critical services, like maternal healthcare.

“Some hospitals are choosing to close maternal health units,” Havens shared during the interview. “There are a multitude of factors including recruitment of the specialized providers, 24/7 staffing challenges, low delivery numbers and overall financial challenges contributing to the closure decision. Specifically in Iowa, out of 117 hospitals, only 56 continue to deliver babies. GRMC is proud to be one of those hospitals delivering babies, and we sit in a four-county area where we are the only hospital providing this critical service.”

GRMC was awarded the Center of Excellence Grant by the Iowa Department of Public Health in 2022, with funds directed toward establishing Iowa’s framework to sustain access to high-quality OB services for rural populations. UnityPoint Health – Grinnell leaders attended Iowa’s annual Condition of the State in January in recognition of the vital work being done across UnityPoint Health – Grinnell hospital, clinics, public health and community partnerships to better meet the rural maternal health needs in the GRMC service area.

“The communities we serve and the people we care for is why we are in health care,” says Havens. “The team members at UnityPoint Health – Grinnell put their hearts into living our mission, to improve the health of the people and communities we serve. I’m proud that GRMC is representing and advocating for our communities as a voice of rural health care.”

Visit unitypoint.org/grinnell to learn more about GRMC’s hospital, clinics and public health services.


1Ramedani S, George D, Leslie D, Kraschnewski J, et al. The bystander effect: Impact of rural hospital closures on the operations and financial well-being of surrounding healthcare institutions. Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2022. DOI:10.1002/jhm.12961.

2Stratton, J, et al. Essential: Iowa’s EMS emergency. KCCI Des Moines. 2023.


 Jennifer Havens, CEO of GRMC, attends American Hospital Association’s Annual Meeting as a panelist for rural health care.

Photo 1, left to right: Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Corewell Health; Jennifer Havens, CEO of Grinnell Regional Medical Center; and Joshua H. Soven, panel facilitator.

Photo 2, left to right: Joshua H. Soven, panel facilitator; Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Corewell Health; and Jennifer Havens, CEO of Grinnell Regional Medical Center.

Photo 3: Jennifer Havens, CEO of Grinnell Regional Medical Center, at American Hospital Association’s Annual Meeting.


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