Podcast #4: The Way Forward

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This is the fourth podcast in our Stepping Up: Health Equity in Rural Hospitals Podcast Series. Guests will share stories of success and struggle with health equity programs and initiatives in rural communities. Specific steps will be shared on moving forward with the culture, champions, and data a facility has built. By listening to this episode, the audience will hear specific challenges and solutions to implementing health equity programs and initiatives in rural communities.

Podcast Guests


Dr. Heidi Helgeson MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Rio Grande Hospital

Dr. Helgeson graduated magna cum laude from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN with a double major in Biology and Theology. She attended medical school at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver. She graduated from the Fort Collins Family Medicine Residency program in June of 2009, where she served as Chief Resident. Dr. Helgeson is a board-certified Family Physician who has been on staff at Rio Grande Hospital since August of 2009. She has special interests in Women’s Health and Diabetes and is honorary faculty with the University of Colorado as a clinical instructor in Family Medicine. Most recently Dr. Helgeson graduated with honors from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinic Practice with a Master of Public Health. Dr. Helgeson most enjoys the continuity of care and relationships with patients and their families that develop as a part of living and practicing in a rural community.


Andrew Thomas, Baylor University '23, health equity intern at Rio Grande Hospital

Andrew Thomas is a senior Medical Humanities major at Baylor University with hopeful pursuits in the field of Medicine. This past summer, he was given the opportunity to travel to rural, southern Colorado, where he interned at the Rio Grande Hospital. During his time at the hospital, he was able to shadow many different departments and gain a better understanding of how the many pieces of a hospital system operate to serve a community. Along with his work in the hospital, Andrew, with another Baylor colleague, started an independent project to find a better way to provide healthcare resources to the migrant farm working population located in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. 


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