Health on the Plains


Health on the Plains is a Kansas Health Institute podcast, hosted by Wyatt Beckman, KHI senior analyst. The podcast was launched in 2023, with a focus on health and well-being in rural Kansas. Episodes include engaging and nuanced conversations around topics impacting the health of individuals in less populated parts of the state. Episodes are released twice monthly and include guests representing a wide range of backgrounds who are focused on improving health for Kansans. Although conversation is focused on Kansas, topics are relevant to anyone living in rural America. The podcast is also available as a webcast on YouTube.



May 24, 2024

Episode 10, Helping People Help Other People: The Role of a Rural Hospital Leader with Benjamin Anderson


On Health on the Plains, episode 10, Host Wyatt Beckman takes listeners to Hutchinson, Kansas, to visit with Benjamin Anderson, President and CEO of Hutchinson Regional Medical Center. He emphasizes the need to develop leadership in rural health care. He addresses meeting the health care needs of the community while keeping work-life balance in focus and highlights innovations to improve population health through unique partnerships. He also discusses access to care and why he thought it was important to advocate for Medicaid expansion.

Episode Highlights: 

  • 3:33-6:42: Wyatt and Benjamin reflect on Benjamin’s early career, his family’s decision to move back to Kansas, and the importance of rural community health, emphasizing the need to transform fragmented health care delivery systems to better meet community needs. 
  • 6:42-11:58: Benjamin discusses the importance of involving family and community, specifically mothers and caregivers, in health care decision-making processes. 
  • 11:59-18:47: Benjamin explains how health systems reflect the communities they serve, addressing provider recruitment and training challenges and opportunities, and how sustaining communities economically relies on strong hospital and health care systems. 
  • 18:47-27:21: Benjamin compares and contrasts the health administration training program ladder versus those for medical providers, what it means to be a health care administration leader, and the work needed to ensure the next generation of rural health care leaders. 
  • 27:22-35:06: Benjamin highlights the pressing challenging health outcomes in rural Kansas, how health care leaders are addressing these issues, and introduces an innovative approach to tackling loneliness among older adults in Hutchinson, Kansas. 
  • 35:07-39:23: Benjamin discusses the desperation often driving innovation in rural Kansas, rural hospital closures, and how to reframe health as a public asset. 
  • 39:24-55:25: Wyatt and Benjamin discuss Medicaid Expansion in Kansas, why Benjamin felt compelled to advocate for it, and the challenges of balancing the many roles of a hospital and community leader and family.

About the Host

Wyatt J. Beckman, M.P.H., C.H.E.S., Senior Analyst, has a leading role in KHI’s activities and projects focused on rural health. Born and raised in Ness City, Kansas, Wyatt grew up thinking about the intersection of health and rural life – with one parent serving as an EMT and director of EMS, and the other as a rural route carrier for the United States Postal Service. He has seen both the challenges and the successes of rural health, and the often unseen, untold and unappreciated sacrifices of those working to serve their communities.

Like the challenges and opportunities facing rural communities, Wyatt’s work at KHI has been varied. He has contributed to KHI studies on social isolation, e-cigarettes, suicide prevention, telehealth, prescription drugs, and the response of local governments to COVID-19.


Wyatt also provided research support to the Center for Sharing Public Health Services, a national initiative formerly managed by KHI and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which focuses on resource sharing arrangements as a strategy to improve public health effectiveness and efficiency.

Wyatt has long known and appreciated the power of storytelling in its many forms. As a radio show host in college, he loved finding out the meaning behind the songs and artists he was playing and sharing that with his audience. Through this podcast, Wyatt hopes to create a space for the rich, nuanced and meaningful conversations about health in rural Kansas. Along the way, he hopes listeners will smile, laugh, ponder and gain new insights into the people working to make Kansas a healthier and more vibrant place to call home.

Health on the Plains Production Team

Wyatt J. Beckman, M.P.H., C.H.E.S., Host

Theresa Freed, M.A., Producer, Editor

Emma Uridge, C.H.E.S., Field Producer, Coordinator

Stewart Cole, Editor, Multimedia Specialist