Kentucky Rural Health Leader Receives National Award

MEDIA CONTACT: Beth Bowling, beth.bowling@uky.edu, 606-439-3557

Author: Jennifer Molley Wilson
HAZARD, Ky. (Sept. 15, 2107)
– The University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health is pleased to announce Kayla Combs, rural project manager at the Kentucky Office of Rural Health (KORH), has received the 2017 Emerging Leader Award from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH). Combs received her award at a Sept. 6 ceremony during the organization’s annual conference in Savannah, Ga.

Combs joined the KORH as a Rural Project Manager in May 2012. The next year, she added the role of Flex Director and hospital programs lead, and it was in this capacity she realized her passion for both quality improvement in critical access hospitals and rural EMS initiatives.

Combs manages multiple external contracts and provides direct technical assistance to Kentucky’s 27 critical access hospitals, and according to KORH Director Ernie Scott, her experience, innovative approach and approachable personality have served to make her a trusted and valuable resource across the healthcare spectrum.

“Kayla is one of those individuals whose wheels are always quietly turning. Analytically creative, she listens closely to her CEOs and quality improvement peers, and only after a thorough assessment, offers up creative solutions to healthcare industry issues in Kentucky,” said Scott.

Combs serves on a number of healthcare advisory and advocacy committees and rural policy initiatives, some at the behest of governmental representatives at the regional and state level. She is an active member of Kentucky Rural Health Association, serving on the Education Committee; represents Kentucky’s Critical Access Hospitals and rural hospitals at the annual National Rural Health Association’s Policy Institute in Washington D.C.; serves on the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Advisory Committee, Kentucky Breast Cancer Advisory Committee and the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medicine Mobile Integrated Health- Community Paramedicine development committee.

“There is just no way for Kayla to hide her passion for rural healthcare. It is imperative to her that the facilities within her net survive and prosper, instead of whittling down services and shuttering the front door, said Scott.

“She is a tireless crusader for rural health, and is a shining example of the young leaders we so desperately need to care about access to care and the communities who depend upon it,” he added.

NOSORH serves as an influential voice for rural health concerns and promotes a healthy rural America through state and community leadership. NOSORH leads National Rural Health Day efforts on the third Thursday of each November to recognize rural communities as wonderful places to live and work in addition to their unique healthcare needs.

The organization presents its Emerging Leader Award each year to a State Office of Rural Health staff member who has demonstrated new leadership, initiative, involvement and commitment to the mission of NOSORH or State Offices of Rural Health.

Picture: Kayla Combs, rural project manager at the Kentucky Office of Rural Health (KORH), received the 2017 Emerging Leader Award from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) during the organization’s annual conference in Savannah, Ga. on Sept. 6.

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