News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 26, 2012

NEWSMAKERS: Dec. 26, 2012


---- — Connie Rhoads of Paris recently joined an elite group of therapists in the Edgar County area when she fulfilled stringent requirements to become a licensed clinical social worker.

“LCSWs are very hard to find in this area,” she explained. “The credentialing process is very demanding. This is another challenge for me, and I like to challenge myself.”

Rhoads is a full-time therapist at Senior Care, a department of Paris Community Hospital/Family Medical Center. As an LCSW with a master’s degree in social work, her role has not changed at Senior Care. Rhoads will continue to provide individual, group and family counseling to Senior Care patients. She is one of two therapists at Senior Care. Lisa Brinkerhoff, MSW, provides similar services at Senior Care.

Rhoads said she wanted to obtain her LCSW and continue to provide compassionate care to residents of Edgar County and surrounding communities.

“I love this community,” she said. “I see a real need for the types of services that we provide at Senior Care. I am privileged to have the patients that I do. They are incredible.”

To become a licensed clinical social worker in Illinois, an applicant must hold at least a master’s degree in social work and complete 3,000 hours of work under the clinical supervision of a LCSW.

The lengthy application process concludes with a strictly monitored four-hour test. Now that Rhoads is a licensed clinical social worker, she can supervise other therapists who have an MSW and are seeking their LCSW.

“Carolyn Sutton [licensed clinical social worker at PCH/FMC] was gracious and extremely helpful during my supervision period,” Rhoads said.

Rhoads earned her bachelor’s degree in child, family and community services — as well as her MSW — from the University of Illinois. A master’s degree requires 60 hours of social work education followed by a six- to nine-month internship. For Rhoads, she pursued specialty certification as a school social worker. She also has a master’s degree in early childhood education.

“As social workers, we look at patients from a strengths perspective rather than their weaknesses,” she said. “We don’t say people are broken, we say the power is within them to fix themselves.”

Rhoads joined Senior Care in April 2010. Her experience includes working as a social worker for the public school system in Springfield. She also worked for judges in Dallas, Texas, as a social worker for court-appointed special advocates and as administrator for a federal juvenile task force.

Senior Care is a voluntary behavioral health service for Medicare patients ages 65 and older and for Medicare disability patients.

The department was created to assist older adults with life’s challenges, including depression, grief, anxiety, loneliness, cognitive problems and other emotional/psychiatric conditions.

Senior Care is located at 15323 U.S. 150, in the Verona Mall, Paris. Call 217-465-2606, extension 170, for more information.


Chuck Benninger of Terre Haute was named the 2012 Healthcare Executive of the Year by the American Academy of Medical Administrators. Benninger is the Utilization Management Coordinator at the VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville, Ill.

He received the award during the 2012 AAMA Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, on Nov. 14.

The Healthcare Executive of the Year Award is the Academy’s highest honor. It recognizes an individual whose work has provided an environment for delivering the maximum level of quality care with dignity and human concern.

Benninger successfully completed a 25-year Naval career, which included service as a hospital corpsman and Nurse Corps officer. While serving as the executive officer at the Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., he implemented sweeping organizational changes.

These included the introduction of Relative Value Units productivity standards, a performance-based budget model and the development of an organizational report card for utilization in decision-making by the board of directors.

During just two months, as a director in a private multispecialty practice, Benninger directed the acquisition, implementation and conversion to PACS and CR imaging systems at four clinic locations. In his current position at VAIHCS he provided guidance in the successful implementation of an interdisciplinary process for the inpatient care unit that has cut avoidable bed days in half and resulted in cost avoidance of over $1.5 million.

Benninger is the past chair of the AAMA’s credentialing committee, which develops and bestows CAAMA certification.

He led the committee in the transitioning the certification exam from a mixed format with both objective and subjective essay questions, to a completely objective-question format, which eliminated all subjectivity and reduced grading time. Benninger has been an AAMA member since 1998.