Listen to the podcast on Spotify or Youtube.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Indiana Regional Medical Center (IRMC)’s podcast, Rural Health Pulse, begins season two today with Nick Jacobs, of Windber, co-founder and president of the Windber Research Institute (now The Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Molecular Medicine in Windber), and the founder of the Clinical and Translational Genome Research Institute, a research institute that is now part of Southern California University of Health Sciences in Los Angeles.

Jacobs is also a consultant with the United States Department of Defense Clinical Breast Care Project.

The season two launch of the podcast is part of IUP and IRMC’s National Rural Health Day events on Nov. 16, which include IUP and IRMC’s Second Annual Pennsylvania Mountains Rural Health Conference. The conference, hosted by IUP, will present national leaders in rural health care discussing the present and future of rural health care.

The Rural Health Pulse podcast is available for free on Spotify and from the IRMC website.

The podcasts include professionals from IRMC and from IUP and is recorded by students in the IUP Department of Communications Media under the direction of communications faculty member Dr. Mark Piwinsky and produced by IUP Director of Strategic Partnerships Christina Koren. Dr. Jim Kinneer, IRMC Chief Human Resources Officer, serves as the host for the shows.

In episode one of season two, “Promoting Integrative Wellness in a Rural Community,” Jacobs and Dr. Kinneer discuss the realm of complete holistic wellness, offering insights into health prevention and wellness strategies developed during Jacob’s tenure as a hospital executive, providing a holistic perspective on healthcare and encouraging innovative thinking for rural communities, particularly when considering the topic of wellness.

The episode also explores the potential of a rural health model that leverages natural and local resources to benefit communities, highlights the importance of interconnecting academic program disciplines in colleges and universities to foster collaboration and drive innovation in rural healthcare.

The Rural Health Pulse podcast is 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.

“Hosting and leading our new rural healthcare podcast has been an incredibly rewarding experience,” Dr. Kinneer said. “This platform allows us to shine a spotlight on the unique challenges and innovations in healthcare delivery in rural communities. I am thrilled to be part of this initiative, particularly season 2, which fosters knowledge sharing, enhances access to care, and ultimately contributes to the betterment of healthcare in underserved areas."

“Cultivating informative and engaging podcasts for our IRMC healthcare partner has been an incredible journey,” Dr. Piwinsky said. “Through the power of audio storytelling, we aim to bridge the gap between healthcare knowledge and the broader community. It's a tremendous learning opportunity for my IUP communication media students and a privilege for us to contribute to the dissemination of crucial healthcare information in this innovative way."

“Working with the IRMC developing the Rural Health Pulse podcast has not only been a wonderful opportunity to develop my skills as an audio engineer, but also an educational one,” said IUP communications media student Matthew Scholl, who has worked as the primary audio person on the podcasts for the past year. “Being able to listen to Dr. Kinneer discuss various healthcare topics has brought many new subjects to my attention and has brought me closer to our community.”

Jacobs is the founding executive director of the Conemaugh Health Foundation, Mercy Healthcare Foundation, and the Laurel Highlands Educational Foundation.

He has written two books, and his blog, Healing Hospitals, is featured in a number of regional newspapers and publications. Many of his writings have been published in healthcare magazines, and he has been prominently featured in the Wall Street Journal.

Jacobs earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1968 and a master’s degree in music education in 1972 from IUP. He was honored with the IUP Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005 for his leadership in the healthcare and business communities.

In addition to his IUP degrees, he earned a master’s degree in public management/health systems management from Carnegie Mellon University and has certification in health systems management from Harvard University, in grant work from the Grantsmanship Center, and in planned giving from the College of William & Mary. He was selected for an Outstanding Alumni Award from Carnegie Mellon University.

Jacobs is the recipient of a number of national and state awards for his work in healthcare systems, including the Commander's Award, Walter Reed Healthcare System; Outstanding Support Award, Clinical Breast Care Project, Walter Reed Army Medical Center; Clinical Breast Care Project Collaboration Award, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; Pennsylvania Senate Proclamation Recipient from Senator John Wozniak; and the Community Rural Health Leader of the Year for 2001 from the Pennsylvania Rural Health Association.

In July, Jacobs and his wife, Mary Ann Hoysan Jacobs, made a gift of more than $40,000 to advance IUP’s college of osteopathic medicine project.

Topics for episodes planned for season two include barriers to care, center for rural health, genomics (which will feature Jacobs); and tickborne diseases.

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

Episode two of the podcast is an interview with Dr. 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 Dr. Bharathan, and the difference it made in patient care.

Episode three features Dr. 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 has IRMC’s Dr. Dan Clark, director of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery and director of IRMC’s Comprehensive Breast Center, discussing robotics in surgery. Since coming to IRMC, Dr. Clark has been integral in IRMC’s successfully obtaining a second da Vinci Xi robotic surgery system. Dr. 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 -- Dr. Nawar Al Janabi, of Baghdad, Iraq; Dr. Tanvi Bharathan, of Indiana; Dr. Mohit Chhatpar, of New York; Dr. Robin Rodriguez, of Corpus Christi, Texas; and Dr. Narinder Sangha, of California. – are featured on episode five of the podcast.

Episode six interviews Dr. Clark presenting an overview of breast cancer medical education and care from IRMC. Dr. Clark has more than 25 years of breast cancer experience and more than 12 years of experience with genetic counseling. In this role, Dr. Clark serves as a breast surgeon as well as a genetic counselor.

Episode seven features Dr. 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, home to the Kopchick College.

Episode eight is an interview with Wendy Haislip, IRMC Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, discussing Pennsylvania’s rural health model and workforce challenges.

Episode nine features Erin Clark, director of IUP’s Speech and Hearing Clinic and assistant professor in the IUP Department of Communication Disorders, Special Education, and Disability Services.

Season one concludes with episode 10, a discussion with Katie Donald, marketing and public relations specialist at Punxsutawey Area Hospital, discussing rural healthcare models and challenges.