ICAHN Executive Director Announces 2024 Retirement After 20 Years of Dedicated Leadership to Rural Healthcare

Pat Schou in front of a garden landscapePat Schou announces retirement as the executive director of the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN) effective mid-summer 2024. Schou has led ICAHN since its inception in 2003, growing the organization through a grassroots effort to support critical access hospitals into a thriving statewide network consisting of 58 critical access and small, rural hospitals.

During her tenure, Schou has worked on a state and national stage to ensure that rural communities have access to quality healthcare, and for those hospitals to be stable and viable providers for the communities they serve.

Schou has had a longstanding career in healthcare, with more than 45 years of experience in clinical and rural healthcare administration. She began her career as a Registered Nurse in coronary care in a large facility. In 1977, she moved to rural Princeton, IL and began work at Perry Memorial Hospital, now known as OSF Saint Clare. There, she held multiple leadership positions, including Vice President of Clinical Services.

With a passion and drive to further improve rural healthcare, Schou became the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program Coordinator for the Illinois Department of Public Health in 1999 and was instrumental in developing the critical access hospital (CAH) program in Illinois. Over the span of her career, Schou has helped convert 54 hospitals to CAH status. CAH designation helps reduce financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improves access to healthcare by keeping essential services in rural communities.

Throughout her leadership at ICAHN, Schou also implemented the Illinois Rural Community Care Organization, a state-wide rural accountable care organization, and served as executive director.

“It’s been an honor and a pleasure to work with such wonderful people and make a difference in rural healthcare. I’ve seen some critical access hospitals near closure, and working through the program and implementing operational changes, those hospitals are now thriving today,” Schou said. “It’s never been a job; it’s been an opportunity to serve our rural communities.”

Schou has been recognized for multiple awards including the Illinois Rural Health Association (IRHA) Rural Health Worker Award, National Rural Health Association (NRHA) President’s Award, the National Center for Rural Health Professions Rural Health Hero Award, Calico Quality and Leadership Award from the National Rural Research Center, Top 25 Women in Leadership Award--Peoria Area, Bureau County Professional Women’s Award, and the Bureau County Women of Distinction Award.

“Pat has been such an incisive leader for ICAHN during her 20 years of leadership. The energy, vision, and devotion she brings to her position each day has earned her a deserved reputation as a top rural healthcare champion, both state-wide and nationally. It has been a privilege to work closely with her in supporting our member hospitals and mission,” said Curt Zimmerman, ICAHN Senior Director of Business and Development.

Schou has also served on numerous boards and committees including past president and founding board member of the IRHA, past president of the NRHA, past technical assistant advisory chair for the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (MRHFP), past board member for the Health Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP), Illinois Rural Healthnet, Illinois Rural Partners, Illinois Broadband Council, and the National Rural Health Resource Board. Schou has also served on the National Advisory Committee for Rural Health and Human Services and was co-chair on the Illinois State Health Improvement Plan Coordination Council.

“Pat has been the creator, guiding light and outstanding leader of ICAHN since it's inception 20 years ago.  She has built a nationally recognized association for our small and rural hospitals that is highly valued by its members.  During her tenure, ICAHN has played an instrumental role in developing our Critical Access Hospital network in Illinois to ensure our rural communities have high quality, accessible health care close to home.  Furthermore, our rural hospitals are crucial economic engines in our local communities, and I am proud of the significant impact we can attribute to Pat in our rural communities across our state.  While we are sad to see Pat move into retirement, we are happy for her to enjoy the next chapter in her life, and we wish her the best.  She leaves behind a thriving and well-respected organization which is well positioned for continued success,” said Ted Rogalski, ICAHN Board President.

Schou earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Illinois Wesleyan University and a Master of Science specializing in community nursing from Northern Illinois University. She is also a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE).

Schou plans on playing a large role alongside the ICAHN team to find a successor beginning early 2024.

ICAHN is dedicated to supporting critical access hospitals throughout Illinois and is committed to ensuring that rural communities have access to high-quality healthcare services. Through advocacy, education, and collaboration, ICAHN has made a significant impact on the healthcare landscape throughout the state. This year, ICAHN celebrates their 20-year milestone at the 2023 Annual Conference on November 28 and 29 at the I-Hotel in Champaign, IL.