Stimulus money was only a short-term fix as rural hospitals brace for the next COVID-19 surges

One by one, COVID-19 outbreaks popped up in April and May at meatpacking plants across the country, fanning fears that the infectious coronavirus could spread rapidly into rural states. Plants closed temporarily in small metro areas like Waterloo, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but also smaller Iowa towns like Tama, Columbus Junction and Perry. 

Leaders at Buena Vista Regional Medical Center in Storm Lake, a northwest Iowa town of 10,500 with a Tyson Foods packing plant, knew their time would come. “We just didn’t know to what degree,” Rob Colerick, the hospital CEO and administrator, said. “I mean, you saw it in Columbus Junction. You saw it in Waterloo.

Suzanne Behnke Picked To Be The Next IowaWatch Executive Director

The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, or IowaWatch, has hired Suzanne Behnke to be its new executive director. Behnke, who starts in August, succeeds Lyle Muller, who will retire in September after leading IowaWatch since 2012. “Journalism and its future are my professional passions, and IowaWatch will allow me to work in both areas,” Behnke said. “There’s tremendous potential for IowaWatch to grow in depth and breadth so it can serve readers for years to come.”

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Behnke comes to IowaWatch from the Des Moines Business Record, where she has been an editor and contributor since May 2017. She also is a journalism and communications instructor at Simpson College in Indianola.