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December 9, 2008

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-8287

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Berens Elected President-Elect of 18,000 Member National Rural Health Association

Lincoln – Dennis Berens, Administrator of the Office of Rural Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health, has been elected President-Elect of the 18,000 member National Rural Health Association (NRHA). Berens will take over as President in January of 2010.

“My number one goal will be to move the National Rural Health Association to where it is a knowledge center based organization for the nation, which can also help the rest of the world,” Berens said. “I see this as a wonderful opportunity to meet rural health leaders from across the nation and even from other parts of the world, and glean new and creative ideas from them.”

Berens has headed the Office of Rural Health since 1990 and has been a member of the NRHA since 1990.

Berens has been recognized as a leader on Nebraska’s rural health issues. Dr. Joann Schaefer, Nebraska’s Chief Medical Office and Director of the DHHS Division of Public Health, said, “Dennis has been a positive influence on rural health in Nebraska. His work in bringing together the many entities and individuals involved in promoting rural health has had a significant impact on the health of those in rural Nebraska communities.”

Berens facilitated the formation of the Nebraska Rural Health Association in partnership with the NRHA. He has participated in NHRA’s annual Rural Health Conferences and Rural Health Policy Insititutes for the past 18 years. In addition to serving on NRHA committees and presenting at educational conferences, Berens is a member of the National Rural Health Association’s Health Information Technology Coalition and has served on the National EMS/Trauma Advisory Board for the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The National Rural Health Association has offices in Kansas City, Missouri and Washington, D.C. The NRHA is a nonprofit organization working to improve the health and well-being of rural Americans and providing leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communications, education and research.

For more information, go to: DHHS, Office of Rural Health -; Nebraska Rural Health Association - ; National Rural Health Association - .