Diane Potts, UICOMR assistant director of curriculum outreach and development, gives Kristen Green, MD, the 2022 Rural Health Hero Award.

The National Center for Rural Health Professions at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford presented Rural Health Hero Awards at its annual National Rural Health Day on November 17.

Crawford Memorial Hospital in Robinson, Ill., received the Rural Health Hero Training Site Award. Crawford Memorial Hospital, under the leadership of CEO Doug Florkowski, began hosting third-year medical students in the UICOMR Rural Medical Education Program in October 2019, so they could receive surgical training in a rural setting. CMH surgeons Drs. Joseph Kunzelman, Preston Reilly and Fred Scott, now clinical assistant professors in the UICOMR Department of Surgery and Surgical Specialties, volunteered to teach RMED students about a rural surgical practice. Following the success of surgical experience, rotations in obstetrics/gynecology and family medicine will also take place at Crawford Memorial Hospital.

“When reflecting upon how these teaching opportunities have grown, along with the gracious housing that is consistently offered to the students, CMH serves as a true rural health advocate for the RMED program,” says Diane Potts, UICOMR assistant director of curriculum outreach and development. “Add to that their dedication to quality rural healthcare and broad vision for the future needs of Robinson, Crawford County, and rural communities throughout Illinois, and they are clearly Rural Health Heroes.”

Kristen Green, MD, and Melissa Cox, MD, shared the 2022 Rural Health Hero Award. Dr. Green, an obstetrician/gynecologist, and Dr. Cox, a medicine/pediatrics physician, both practice at Springfield Clinic and Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Lincoln, Ill.

“Both Dr. Green and Dr. Cox, are most deserving of the Rural Health Hero Award for endlessly giving of their time and for serving as humble, caring, and compassionate role models for the RMED students, who are the next generation of rural providers,” says Potts.

Dr. Green, a clinical assistant professor in the UICOMR Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is a one of the only OB/GYN providers in Logan County and the region. Despite having a busy clinical practice, she volunteered to teach third- and fourth-year medical students in what is now one of the most popular rural elective courses.

Dr. Cox, a clinical assistant professor in the UICOMR Department of Pediatrics, inspires greater awareness of the many skills needed for the full practice of medicine in a rural area by volunteering to teach medical students in her active medicine-pediatrics practice.

The NCRHP at the UIC Health Sciences Campus-Rockford strives to meet the health care needs of rural residents and their communities in Illinois, around the nation and throughout the world. Approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education since 2003, this UICOMR center has programs and collaborative partnerships that have become successful models for education, service, research and policy related to rural health involving multiple health professions.