Listen to the podcast on Spotify or YouTube.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Indiana Regional Medical Center (IRMC)’s podcast, Rural Health Pulse, continues with an episode with Steve Hovan, dean of IUP’s John J. and Char Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and IUP Distinguished University Professor, discussing IUP’s John J. and Char Kopchick Hall, future home to the Kopchick College.

Following a national search, Hovan was named as dean of the Kopchick College in January following his service as the interim dean of the Kopchick College. He joined the IUP community in August 1993 as a faculty member in the Department of Geoscience and was promoted to the rank of professor in August 2001 and was department chair from 2006 to 2020. In 2007 he was selected as an IUP Distinguished University Professor.

Hovan’s scientific research focuses on examining the relationships between atmospheric circulation, oceanic currents, and global climate changes. He has conducted research on 16 ocean vessels, most funded by the NSF, and has involved IUP students on a number of those expeditions.

IUP broke ground for the Dr.  John J. and Char Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in September 2020; move-in to the building is expected in spring 2024.

Once completed, the more than 142,000-square-foot Kopchick Hall, sited facing the IUP Oak Grove, will be the hub of activity for all things science and math at IUP, with an expanded planetarium, three flexible classrooms, two multipurpose computer labs, 16 flexible teaching labs with shared instrumentation spaces, 43 research lab modules, 72 faculty offices, a Dean's Suite, collaboration spaces for group study, conference, tutoring, and student organization space.

The building is named in honor of John and Char Kopchick, who announced a $23-million donation to IUP in April 2018 for science and mathematics initiatives at IUP.

John Kopchick earned a bachelor's degree in 1972 and a master’s degree in 1975 from IUP, both in biology. Char Kopchick graduated from IUP with an education degree in 1973.

The couple currently live in Athens, Ohio, where John Kopchick is a professor of molecular biology and the Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar at Ohio University; Char Kopchick is the assistant dean of students there.

John Kopchick is a co-inventor of the drug Somavert, which combats acromegaly, a growth hormone disorder. He and Char Kopchick were raised in Indiana and Sagamore, Armstrong County, respectively.

Rural Health Pulse Podcast

The Rural Health Pulse podcast is available for free on Spotify and from the IRMC website. Monthly episodes will be released through August 2023.

The podcasts include professionals from IRMC and from IUP and are recorded by students in the IUP Department of Communications Media under the direction of communications faculty member Mark Piwinsky and produced by IUP Director of Strategic Partnerships Christina Koren. Jim Kinneer, IRMC chief human resources officer, serves as the host for the shows.

The podcasts are part of a continued collaboration between IUP and IRMC on the topic of rural health care, focusing on issues and stories impacting the health of the region and programs and initiatives designed to improve healthcare and wellness.

The podcast launched in November in celebration of National Rural Health Day on Nov. 17, 2022. Amanda Vaglia, family medicine physician and director of the IRMC Residency Program, was featured on the first episode of the series, discussing the residency program.

Episode two of the podcast features Narayanaswamy Bharathan, chair, IUP Department of Biology, and Jackie Sansig, IRMC director of Laboratory and Respiratory Services, discussing the evolution of the same-day COVID-19 testing process at IRMC by Bharathan, and the difference it made in patient care.

Episode three features Rick Adkins, professor of mathematics in the IUP Department of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, discussing the community wastewater surveillance system. Indiana Borough has had a sewer surveillance program with Biobot Analytics, Inc. since April 2020. Weekly flow samples are collected over a 24-hour period at the headwaters of the wastewater plant and sent to BioBot Analytics.

Episode four features Clark discussing robotics in surgery. Since coming to IRMC, Clark has been integral in IRMC’s successfully obtaining a second da Vinci Xi robotic surgery system. In summer 2022, IRMC’s robotic surgery team surpassed a milestone of 2,200 robotic surgeries performed in the hospital’s state-of-the-art operating rooms. IRMC offers robotic surgery in the areas of general surgery, bariatrics, gynecology, orthopedics, thoracic, and (coming soon) urology. Clark serves as a national proctor for robotic surgery and plays an important role in certifying robotic skills competency.

IRMC’s five family medicine residents—Nawar Al Janabi, of Baghdad, Iraq; Tanvi Bharathan, of Indiana; Mohit Chhatpar, of New York; Robin Rodriguez, of Corpus Christi, Texas; and Narinder Sangha, of California—are featured on episode five of the podcast.

Episode six features Dan Clark, director of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery and director of IRMC’s Comprehensive Breast Center, presenting an overview of breast cancer medical education and care from IRMC. Clark, director of IRMC’s Comprehensive Breast Center, has more than 25 years of breast cancer experience and more than 12 years of experience with genetic counseling. In this role, Clark serves as a breast surgeon as well as a genetic counselor.

Upcoming episodes, all available on the last day of the month that they are scheduled to be released, are:

  • Wendy Haislip, IRMC vice president and chief nursing officer, Pennsylvania rural health model and workforce challenges (June 2023, episode eight)
  • Erin Clark, clinic director at IUP’s Speech and Hearing Clinic and assistant professor in the IUP Department of Communication Disorders, Special Education, and Disability Services, discussing the clinic’s community outreach (July 2023, episode nine)
  • Katie Donald, marketing and public relations specialist at Punxsutawney Area Hospital, discussing rural healthcare models and challenges (August 2023, episode 10)