Rural healthcare weekend to bring ‘cutting edge’ knowledge to Lincoln

Published 10:21 am Friday, February 10, 2017

STANFORD – For the sixth year in a row, Lincoln County is preparing to welcome healthcare professionals from across the state for a weekend of “cutting edge” educational seminars and demonstrations.

Before the Rural Health Training Weekend was created in Lincoln County, medical professionals often had to travel out of the county to Lexington or Louisville to get the continuing education training required of them each year. But now, they can receive that training here and it costs much less.

“It started six years ago with the vision of bringing new healthcare knowledge and skills to the rural areas,” said Lincoln County EMS Director Ashley Powell.

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The weekend of training, which will take place Feb. 19 and 20 this year at the Lincoln County High School auditorium, brings a variety of healthcare topics and knowledge to medical professionals.

The majority of speakers each year are physicians, local and out-of-county, Powell said.

Local emergency medical professional Mike Ruhe works alongside Powell and the rest of the original planning committee (Jeff Gobey and Kimberly Bowen) to bring the best speakers from across the state to the Lincoln County Rural Healthcare Training Weekend. The group also puts together a Lake Cumberland Healthcare Symposium in the fall in conjunction with Russell County EMS.

“There was nowhere around here that EMS, nursing respiratory, radiology, all could come together. We work as a team and train together and get credit at a reasonable price, but with the high expectation of having the best speakers in the state come in,” Ruhe said.

Ruhe said the weekend of training wouldn’t be possible without the four main sponsors – Air Evac Lifeteam, UK Healthcare, Baptist Health (Lexington) and Ephraim McDowell Health. The event is hosted by Lincoln County EMS.

To mix things up, Ruhe said some speakers considered “controversial” are invited to give attendees a range of perspectives.

“One year we had a midwife wife come in and speak and right after that we had a gynecologist and they were so far from each other, one end of the spectrum to the other,” he said.

This year, topics of discussion range from life stories and lessons from medical professionals to cutting-edge healthcare practices such as mechanical ventilation, triage and initial management of an infant with suspected congenital heart disease, and Lifevest and protection from sudden cardiac death.
The event has a plethora of vendors on hand as well, Ruhe said, and has drawn in crowds of up to 200 participants in the past.

As of Monday this week, Powell said 100 participants had already pre-registered for the 2017 Rural Healthcare Training Weekend.

“Turnout has definitely grown over the years,” Powell said. “We provide continuing education for EMS personnel, nursing, respiratory therapists and radiology technicians. All of those continuing education units have been 100 percent approved by all boards.”

Ruhe said the goal is to provide group-training to all aspects of healthcare.

“When you roll into an emergency room, you’ll see five-to-eight people swarming around the bed, all from different areas of healthcare, all with the same goal,” he said. “If we’re going to do that in real life, why not do it in training?”

Ruhe said the weekend brings together medical techniques and perspectives from across the state.

“We (Lincoln County) are the premier of education and that’s not boasting, it’s just a fact, because we bring the best of the best and have some of the best instructors right here in the county,” he said. “It’s one of the best things that’s happened to Lincoln County, bringing people together, and all the surrounding counties.”

Ruhe said the weekend of training is one of the leading events in the state that provides an environment where medical professionals can socialize with little stress, instead of while they’re dealing with a crisis.

Powell said he has worked with the state to bring accountability to the continuing education process as a whole.

Along with the Kentucky Ambulance Providers EMS Conference Education Committee, developed a system called Conference Attendance Tracking System (CATS) which provides badges to participants at the training which they scan in and out of the seminars when they enter and exit.

“I think it’s important,” Powell said. “Accountability is the important part. When healthcare workers are required to meet a certain number of hours of continuing education, I think it’s important to make sure that those hours are met correctly.”

The Rural Healthcare Training weekend is $50 and those interested in participating can register online at or at the event Saturday morning (Feb. 18), starting at 7:30 a.m. Participants will receive a free t-shirt as well as breakfast, lunch and snacks.