Conference / Symposium

2024 Rural Health Care Symposium

A CHA members-only symposium
March 4, 2024 | 8:00AM - 6:00PM PT
March 5, 2024 | 8:00AM - 3:30PM PT

Join us in San Diego at the beautiful Rancho Bernardo Inn for the only symposium designed for California rural hospital leaders. Let’s gather to discuss the unique challenges facing rural hospitals and gain new insights on the many topics affecting health care. 

8:00 – 8:30 a.m. | Check in, Continental Breakfast & Visit with Exhibitors
Get your Sponsor Tour Card then meet and visit with our vendors who are committed to the success of rural hospitals. Get a stamp from every vendor to be entered into a raffle.

8:30 – 9:30 a.m. | Critical Access Hospital Breakfast Meeting
Join us to continue discussions from the January 4 CAH meeting to collaboratively explore innovative ways to ensure financial sustainability for critical access and rural hospitals.

9:30 – 11:30 a.m. | Rural Seismic Strategy Meeting
Trina Gonzalez, Kathryn Austin Scott, and Savannah Tapia, CHA
2030 seismic requirements threaten access to health care in your community, and CHA is actively working on a seismic strategy that aims to provide specific solutions for small and rural hospitals. Come ready to share your ideas and help influence outcomes.

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | Hosted Lunch

12:30 – 12:45 p.m. | Welcome

12:45 – 1:45 p.m. | An Interactive Discussion with Carmela Coyle, CHA President & CEO and Todd Suntrapak, CHA Board Past Chair
Hear top-level insights and up-to-the-minute updates and pose questions and share thoughts directly with CHA’s CEO and Board Past Chair.

1:45 – 2:00 p.m. | Visit with Exhibitors

2:00 – 3:15 p.m. | The Water We Swim In: A State and Federal Landscape Overview
Chad Mulvany and Kathryn Austin Scott, CHA
During this session, you’ll receive an overview of CHA’s current advocacy priorities at the federal and state levels.

3:15 – 3:45 p.m. | Visit with Exhibitors

3:45 – 5:00 p.m. | Harnessing the Energy of Your Team
Wes Avants, Healthcare Leadership Institute and Valerie Lakey, Mayers Memorial Healthcare District
During this interactive session, attendees will be guided through some of The Healthcare Leadership Institute’s Leadership Academy exercises. Walk away with some valuable techniques that inspire hope, optimism, and teamwork with those you lead.

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. | Reception and Exhibitor Show
Mingle with colleagues, enjoy hors d’oeuvres, and engage with companies committed to the success of rural hospitals.

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. | Continental Breakfast & Visit with Exhibitors

9:00 – 10:00 a.m. | Incubate – Igniting the Spark for a Sustainable Community-based Physician Retention & Recruitment Strategy
Judson Howe, North Coast Network, Adventist Health
In early 2023, a diverse group of community leaders gathered in Ukiah, CA to discuss ways to improve access to primary care in Mendocino County. This collaborative effort, Incubate, is focused on cultivating an environment for supporting primary care providers through community connection and well-being. This session will orient you on the Community Apgar framework and its foundation to improving provider recruitment and retention.

10:00 – 11:00 a.m. | Financial Sustainability
Robert Ducay, CHA & Ryan Witz, District Hospital Leadership Forum
Gain an understanding of the existing financing structures in effect today for rural and district hospitals and hear insights on how the state regulatory environment, recently enacted and anticipated policies, and a new state agency will impact Medicare, Medi-Cal, and other hospital reimbursements in 2024 and beyond. Get the latest details on government directives impacting reimbursement and walk away with strategies for positioning your hospital for success amid a changing financial landscape.

11:00 – 11:30 a.m. | Visit with Exhibitors

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | Mergers, Affiliations, and Partnerships
Jeff Sommer, Stroudwater
Rural hospitals are faced with ensuring lasting health care in their community. Jeff Sommer will share an overview of what’s going on in the industry and provide insights on how to evaluate strategic options, avoid some all-too-common pitfalls of partnerships, and keys to harnessing the potential from partnerships.

12:30 – 1:15 p.m. | Hosted Lunch

1:15 – 2:15 p.m. | Concurrent Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  1. Beyond the Health Fair: Community Engagement for Long-term Rewards
    Jacqueline Barton True, MSW, MPH and Beth Zborowski, Washington State Hospital Association
    Our rural hospitals have a unique relationship with their communities – they are key conveners and anchors of the local health system. WSHA has developed and collected resources to help hospitals convene and lead community conversations and health improvement projects.
  2. HCAHPS and Hospital Finances: What’s the Big Deal?
    Rochelle Spinkarski, Rural Health Solution
    This session will delve into HCAHPS scores, their connection to hospital finances and performance, and how patient satisfaction measurement and reporting are changing.

2:15 – 2:30 p.m. | Exhibitor Raffle

2:30 – 3:30 p.m. | CEO Panel moderated by Steve Rousso, Principal at WIPFLI 
Mary Casillas, CEO at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Center, Minty Dillon, CEO at Good Samaritan Hospital, and Kevin Kramer, CEO at Modoc Medical Center
In this popular annual closing session, hear from your peers on how they plan to “set the course” to meet the needs of their rural communities. This year’s topics include 2030 seismic requirements, workforce retention, and financial sustainability. Bring your questions for this interactive session.

3:30 p.m. | Closing Comments
Peggy Wheeler, Vice President, Policy, California Hospital Association

Wes Avants 
Executive Director, Leadership Coach 
The Healthcare Leadership Institute

Wes Avants has served as the Executive Director for The Healthcare Leadership Institute since 2012. In that capacity, he has overseen the development and implementation of innovative leadership programs in health care organizations across all regions of the country. Wes has more than 30 years of experience as a consultant, speaker, corporate trainer, leadership coach, and curriculum design consultant.

Mary Casillas 
Hazel Hawkins Memorial Center

Mary Casillas has held the Interim CEO role, now permanent role, of CEO at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital (HHMH) since October of 2022. Mary came to HHMH as the COO. With over 29 years of health care experience, she started her career as an X-ray Technologist and went into management within 4 years. She has led the team at HHMH in a turnaround, going from a projected 1.5-day cash on hand to over 50 days in the past 14 months.

Carmela Coyle 
President & CEO 
California Hospital Association
Carmela Coyle began her tenure as president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, the statewide leader representing the interests of more than 400 hospitals and health systems in California, in October 2017. Previously, Ms. Coyle led the Maryland Hospital Association for nine years, where she played a leading role in shaping a statewide, value-driven health care delivery system.

Robert Ducay 
Vice President, Policy 
California Hospital Association 
Robert Ducay serves as Vice President of Policy at the California Hospital Association (CHA). Robert is responsible for developing, advocating, and executing public policies, legislation, and regulations on behalf of CHA member hospitals at the state and national levels. Robert serves as the issue manager for Medi-Cal financing and represents members’ financial interests related to Medi-Cal, which includes the hospital fee, and provides support on financial and reimbursement issues affecting California hospitals and health systems.

Trina Gonzalez 
Vice President, Policy 
California Hospital Association  
Trina Gonzalez serves as vice president, policy at the California Hospital Association (CHA), where she is responsible for developing CHA’s policy positions on a wide range of legislative and regulatory issues that affect California hospitals and health systems, including managed care, health care coverage, health information exchange, and community benefits. 

Judson Howe
President, North Coast Network
Adventist Health

Kevin Kramer 
Modoc Medical Center 

Valerie Lakey 
Chief Public Relations Officer 
Mayers Memorial Hospital District 

Chad Mulvany 
Vice President, Federal Policy 
California Hospital Association 
Chad Mulvany, Vice President, Federal Policy for CHA, is responsible for providing leadership on federal hospital reimbursement issues and contributes on other federal regulatory matters. Based in CHA’s Washington, D.C. office, Mr. Mulvany collaborates with CHA’s leadership, issue managers, and national hospital associations on analysis and policy development for advocacy purposes. 

Steve Rousso, MBA, MPA 

Kathyrn Austin Scott 
Senior Vice President, State Relations and Advocacy 
California Hospital Association 
Kathryn serves as the association’s head lobbyist in Sacramento and directs the California lobbying team. Previously, Kathryn was a partner at Capitol Partners, a Sacramento lobbying firm that she founded over ten years ago. She has over 20 years of experience in public policy and served as a contract lobbyist to CHA for 15 years. She has also represented the United Hospital Association and the District Hospital Leadership Forum among other health care and non-health care clients.  

Jeff Sommer, MPP 
Managing Partner 
Jeffrey Sommer, MPP, is Stoudwater’s Managing Director and leader of Stroudwater’s Affiliations & Partnerships practice. For more than 25 years, Jeff has focused on assisting hospital and health system clients with strategic positioning, executing major strategic initiatives, and conceiving and executing partnerships of all kinds. Jeff’s advisory practice is centered on the nexus of strategy, capital planning, partnerships, and operational performance.  He is passionate about working proactively with health system leadership to define, quantify and mitigate strategic risks. 

Rochelle Spinarski 
President and Founder 
Rural Health Solution
Rochelle Schultz Spinarski, President of Rural Health Solutions, is a 25-year veteran of rural health program planning, administration, and evaluation, specializing in Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Program, and quality improvement. Rochelle works for state (including California) Flex Programs, on national projects funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and CMS, and has worked on various projects for most states and on-site in over 400 CAHs.

Todd Suntrapak 
President & CEO 
Valley Children’s Healthcare 

Savannah Tapia 
Policy Associate 
California Hospital Association 
Savannah Tapia is policy associate at the California Hospital Association. She advises CHA staff on proposed legislation and regulations that impact hospitals, develops public policy positions and strategy, and advocates for hospitals before legislative and regulatory bodies. Savannah supports CHA’s work on several topics such as seismic compliance, emergency departments, health equity, and environmental hazards. 

Jacqueline Barton True, MSW, MPH
Vice President, Advocacy and Rural Health
Washington State Hospital Association
Jacqueline Barton True
 is the Vice President for Advocacy and Rural Health for the Washington State Hospital Association. She is responsible for WSHA’s overall advocacy strategy at the state and federal level and implements programs to improve health and health care delivery in rural Washington State.  Prior to WSHA, Jacqueline worked in the Massachusetts governor’s office and with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Ryan Witz 
Senior Vice President, Finance and Policy 
District Hospital Leadership Forum 
Ryan Witz is a Senior Manager with SCA and the Sr. VP – Finance and Policy for the District Hospital Leadership Forum (DHLF). In his capacity with DHLF, he is responsible for the development of federal and state financial/reimbursement policy on behalf of California’s District hospitals. This includes overseeing DHLF’s advocacy functions and working directly with state regulators in the design and implementation of health care policies that impact District hospitals, as well as the other health care stakeholders that participate with the Districts in this process.

Beth Zborowski
Senior Vice President, Membership Engagement and Communications
Washington State Hospital Association
Beth Zborowski is the Senior Vice President of Member Engagement and Communications at the Washington State Hospital Association. She leads efforts to meaningfully connect members and to elevate the visibility of hospitals to the public in their role as key community resources. Through the pandemic and recent financial challenges, Beth worked with members to craft a proactive approach to telling the hospital story, resulting in increased public understanding and support. Beth began her career as a journalist covering everything from prep sports and breaking news to the Idaho State Legislature.

*Members: $99
Government Entities: $99

*Members are CHA member hospitals. Education programs and publications are a membership benefit and are not available to eligible non-member California hospitals.

Cancellation Policy

A $50 non-refundable processing fee will be retained for each cancellation. Cancellations must be made in writing seven or more days prior to the scheduled event and emailed to No refunds will be given after these dates. Substitutions are encouraged. Cancellation and substitution notification may be emailed to In the unlikely event that the program is cancelled, refunds will be issued to paid registrants within 30 days.


A confirmation will be sent to all registrants. On-site registrations and any unpaid registrations may be subject to an additional 10% fee.

Special Accommodations

If you require special accommodations pursuant to the American’s with Disabilities Act please call (916) 552-7637.


CHA will photograph this event. If you prefer not to be photographed, please email CHA at

Full attendance at the educational event is a prerequisite for receiving professional continuing education (CE) credit. Attendees must sign in at the symposium, complete post-event survey and, when required, include state bar or professional license number. CE certificates will be emailed approximately three weeks after the symposium. Lunch and breaks are not included for continuing education credit. (Amount of CE offered subject to change.)

Health Care Executives — CHA is authorized to award 10.75 hours of pre-approved ACHE Qualified Education credit for this program toward advancement, or recertification, in the American College of Healthcare Executives. Participants in this program who wish to have the continuing education hours applied toward ACHE Qualified Education credit must self-report their participation. To self-report, participants must log into their MyACHE account and select ACHE Qualified Education Credit.

Rancho Bernardo Inn
17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive
San Diego, CA 92128
(844) 226-8262 (reservations)

Discount Deadline is February 2.
The Rancho Bernardo Inn has rooms available at the discounted rate of $319 plus taxes and a $20 daily resort fee. For reservations, call (844) 226-8262 and mention the “Rural Health Care Symposium.” Don’t delay; the deadline for discounted sleeping rooms is Friday, February 2. To book a room online, click here.

Do you have a product or service of interest to rural hospitals? This annual conference is an opportunity to reach California rural hospital executives all in one place. For more information, please contact Lisa Hartzell at

We would like to thank our corporate sponsors for their support of the 2024 Rural Health Care Symposium.

Gold Sponsor:

Silver Sponsor: