LEXINGTON — Jim Hain said the call he got blew him away and his first thought was, “you certainly made a mistake.” Yet there was no mistake and the Lexington Regional Health Center’s Chief Operating Officer was asked to speak at a University of Nebraska Medical College Professionalism Ceremony.

The UNMC College of Allied Health Professions Professionalism Ceremony will take place Friday, Aug. 23 and Hain was asked to be one of the two speakers to address the incoming students who are being welcomed into the college with their first white coat.

The list of professions in the College of Allied Health is long, longer than it was when Hain first got his white coat in the 1970s.

The professions include cardiovascular interventional technology, clinical perfusion education, computed tomography, cytotechnology, diagnostic medical sonography, genetic counseling, magnetic resonance imaging, medical laboratory science, medical nutrition, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant, radiation therapy and radiography.

Hain’s profession when he was a student was physical therapy and he himself graduated from UNMC’s Division of physical therapy education in 1978. It was this past experience which made Hain say yes to speaking at the ceremony.

“I owe the UNMC,” Hain said for what they did for him as a student, “I can’t thank them enough for what they did for me.”

Hain said he was, “humbled and very honored,” by the request and hopes to think of something meaningful to say.

After he had graduated from UNMC, Hain spent two years at the Lutheran Hospital in Grand Island as a staff physical therapist. He served under one person, and said the physical therapy professional was very small in the 1970s.

In 1982 he became the director of physical therapy at the Tri-County Hospital, now the LRHC and maintained this position until 2011. “Those were some really memorable times,” said Hain.

One of the points Hain will focus on in his speech is the importance of practicing in rural health care. For himself, Hain said there wasn’t any question he was going to practice in a rural area, having grown up in one.

Out of his original physical therapy class which numbered 16, only two, including him went to practice in a rural area. Hain said he knew he was going to a small town himself and wanted it for his family as well.

Another aspect Hain will touch on is teamwork amongst healthcare professionals. When he was a physical therapist, he said he needed to have a close relationship with the provider to ensure quality patient care. “I felt very fortunate to have the relations with the providers I did.”

When Hain became chief operating officer for LRHC in 2011, teamwork became an even more important to him because he sees the bigger picture and how important it is to connect all of the providers

What’s the most important thing Hain wants these students to know? “It’s about patient care, period.”

Hain said the patient is always number one and healthcare should always come back to what is best for a patient.

“Every patient is unique and new to what you are introducing,” Hain will say to the students, “Providers can take that for granted and this could be their first time experiencing this (procedure.) Treat them with respect, that is the key.”

 CEO Lesile Marsh said of Hain’s duties as COO, “duties as COO are varied, including typical organizational operational duties like, service excellence, physician recruitment and leadership development. Jim has played a key role in: Information Technology system selection and conversion to a single solution;  physical plant project coordination during a major renovation and expansion;  and; development of a partnership with a major corporation to offer work comp services on site. Moreover, Jim has helped strengthen LRHC's financial operations by successfully working to contract with two pharmacies in town, allowing the Lexington community to fully benefit from the 340B program. “

“Finally, Mr. Hain advocates tirelessly for the underserved. He works with state and national representatives and organizations advocating for rural health, but he has taken a special interest in minority health. Jim, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and other key stakeholders like the Rural Futures Institute, helped to showcase the unique challenges and gifts that diverse cultures add to the community's social fabric,” said Marsh.

“This effort, which resulted in a permanent museum display in Lexington, helped to raise community awareness and bring Lexington closer to addressing these disparities. That work, overseen by Jim, laid the foundation for LRHC's comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment. This assessment and the ident ified priorities and strategies to address community gaps will help LRHC move the needle on overall quality of life in Lexington,” Marsh continued.

“Hain's character and contributions make him an excellent COO and community leader. He has left an indelible print on the practice of physical therapy, rural health care delivery, and on the many lives he has touched over the course of his long-lived career. His leadership, compassion, integrity, spirituality and life are all illustrative of the legacy he has created. Simon Sinek notes that "Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge."; when I see that quote, I think of Jim. In closing, Jim has served as a long-time friend, role model and mentor to me over the years.  I am not alone in looking to Jim for guidance and mentoring; many of us  in this community and across the state, including the current Dean of the College of Allied Health Professions, who attended the UNMC’s Physical Therapy program at the same time that Jim was a student in the Physical Therapy program,” Marsh said.

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