WASHINGTON, D.C. — Longtime Princeton resident Pat Schou recently presided over the 31st annual National Rural Health Policy Institute in Washington, DC.
Elected to the position in 2019, Schou serves as the 2020 National Rural Health Association President and was instrumental in providing opening remarks and a keynote to more than 500 legislators, policymakers, and rural health leaders, including her own contingent of 17 Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network CEOs and allied health professionals. Schou serves as ICAHN’s Executive Director.
ICAHN, headquartered in Princeton since its inception in 2003, has a membership of 57 critical access and small, rural hospitals throughout Illinois. The mission of this entity is to preserve access to rural healthcare while improving the vibrancy and viability of the communities each of its member hospitals serve.
“With this being an election year, policymakers were particularly interested in hearing our (ICAHN member hospital representatives’) solutions on how to improve healthcare locally,” Schou said. “We had a very positive reception from all the legislators we met, and particularly, Senator Dick Durbin.
“Our message was that rural is the heart of America and the national economy,” she added. “Without rural healthcare as a cornerstone for its residents, the economy suffers, and our rural residents will have access to less than their urban counterparts. It will be difficult for businesses to locate in rural, and we want to keep our best and brightest in rural communities.”
In addition to Senator Durbin (D-Ill.), others in attendance or providing keynotes were Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.), U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Health and Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan, Health Resources and Services Administration Administrator Thomas Engels, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, CMS Office of Minority Health Director Dr. Cara James, Deputy Director of the Center for Disease Control Office of Minority Health Dr. Jeffrey Hall, the Farm Credit Council, National Farmers Union, American Farm Bureau Federation, TIME Magazine, and lawmakers the states of Washington, Colorado, Texas, Tennessee and Ohio.
Following Capitol Hill Advocacy Day, Schou and her 17 Illinois hospital leaders were invited to participate in several Congressional meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill, followed by a reception in the Hart Senate Office building.
“This is such an honor to serve and represent rural health nationally while also putting Illinois on the map and ICAHN in the spotlight as a leader for today and tomorrow. We want to make a difference for our communities and our neighbors,” said Schou. “Connecting with our state’s legislators here in Washington is the way to set that stage. I am a firm believer that rural can lead change and be the ideal place for innovation, and I will lead that charge this year and always.”
Schou has more than 35 years of clinical and rural hospital administrative experience. She holds a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Illinois Wesleyan University and a Master’s of Science from Northern Illinois University, and was awarded central Illinois’ “Top 25 Women in Leadership” honor in 2013, the Calico “Rural Leadership Award” by the National Rural Health Resource Center in 2013, named as the Bureau County Republican’s “Woman of Distinction” in the Illinois Valley in 2013, was recognized as the 2014 “National Rural Health Hero” by the National Center for Rural Health Professions, University of Illinois School of Medicine-Rockford, and received the National Rural Health Association’s “President Award” in April 2015.
A Fellow member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a national speaker and facilitator, Schou served as co-chair of the Illinois’ State Health Improvement Plan Implementation Coordinating Council from 2010-2015, the Accreditation Association for Hospitals and Health Systems Board, the National Rural Health Association’s Rural Congress and Government Affairs Council, and most recently, NRHA Secretary and President-Elect in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Also of note, ICAHN was named the 2019 “Community Star” for Illinois by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH). ICAHN is the first statewide critical access hospital network to have received that honor.
ICAHN provides hospital support services and educational programs for its membership as well as management of the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant, Small Hospital Improvement Program, and several other grant programs on behalf of the Illinois Department of Public Health. Schou also serves as the Executive Director of the Illinois Rural Community Care Organization — a statewide rural accountable care organization comprised of 27 critical access and rural hospitals.