3RNet Blog

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Like many of our members, our Nebraska member Tom Rauner (in addition to his role as a 3RNet member) wears many ‘hats’ in his day-to-day professional life. Tom works with rural facilities in Nebraska to help them post jobs to the 3RNet website and promotes those jobs to health professionals interested in working in rural Nebraska. He also serves on 3RNet’s board of directors, and is our president-elect. And, for the state of Nebraska, Tom also serves as Director for the Nebraska Primary Care Office (PCO), which is a federally designated office in each state that helps determine, among many things, Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) which play a role in a number of processes including J-1 visa waivers and many loan repayment programs.

Tom shared with us a unique example of several responsibilities coming together to improve health care in Nebraska through his work with a longtime partner, Rebecca Rayman. Rebecca is the Executive Director for Good Neighbor Community Health Center, a federally qualified health center with a brand new facility in Columbus, Nebraska, and a recently announced award to add an expansion site in the nearby community of Fremont. Rebecca ALSO serves as Executive Director for the East Central District Health Department, which shares a building with Good Neighbor CHC in Columbus.

“I’ve known and worked with Tom for 16 years. A few times I’ve called and said ‘help, Tom!’, and he’s there to help. He’s helped us with our HPSA scores, he’s helped us with recruiting. He was instrumental in helping us set up a transportation service that’s been getting patients to our clinic since 2002,” said Rebecca.

For Tom, working with Rebecca to improve access in these rural Nebraska communities is a no-brainer.

“We have the same mission – to serve the underserved. We both receive money from HRSA – she through the CHC and myself through the PCO. We have a very close relationship as far as addressing needs of the underserved,” Tom said. “Also, I’m located within our division of Public Health and the fact that she is a public health department, too, I think, helps us coordinate and deal with a lot of the same issues. That’s something that has brought us close together over the years as far as what we’re doing and it’s kind of a multi-face thing with public health, rural health, PCO, serving a rural area.”

Tom and Rebecca have been able to accomplish quite a bit toward their shared mission: in addition to helping Rebecca bring in quality health care providers through 3RNet, Tom also provided information (as the PCO Director) to help get the new building and the new expansion site for Good Neighbor. They’ve also worked together with the local hospital in Columbus to coordinate recruitment efforts and services to benefit members of the community. Columbus and nearby communities have seen growth in need due to the local meat packing industry. Through collaborative efforts like Tom and Rebecca’s, these communities have found support to provide services needed such as translation services, and general health care services for underserved populations.

We’re proud to have such an exemplary member serving the people of Nebraska and helping fulfill 3RNet’s mission: 3RNet works to improve rural and underserved communities' access to quality health care through recruitment of physicians and other health care professionals, development of community based recruitment and retention activities, and national advocacy relative to rural and underserved health care workforce issues in many ways.

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