The Heartbeat of the Community: Jeremiah Hodshire Leads Hillsdale Hospital
JJ Hodshire, ’99
By Monica VanDerWeide, ’95
Love of God, love of family, love of community. Those three things drive Jeremiah “JJ” Hodshire, ’99, in his many roles: as the new president and CEO of Hillsdale Hospital, as a minister, as a community advocate, and as a husband and father. In a year when health care and hospitals have dominated the national conversation, JJ’s love of the Hillsdale community has motivated him to work tirelessly to bring attention to the importance of rural hospitals.
A Hillsdale County resident since early childhood, JJ graduated from Camden-Frontier High School and matriculated to Hillsdale College, something he considers “the best decision of my educational career. Hillsdale College formed me into the man I am today.” A political economy major, he fondly recalls “passionate professors” such as Mickey Craig (politics), Ken Calvert (history), and Richard Ebeling (economics), as well as his senior thesis class with then-president George Roche. “The small classes, the access to guest speakers through CCAs, the wonderful things I learned about how free markets work and about our Judeo-Christian heritage—these all gave me a solid educational foundation,” he says. “Furthermore, Hillsdale taught me how to learn and how to write, and how to manage my time—all things I use in my career.”
JJ spent the first decade of his career in public service, starting as an aide at the Circuit Court, a position he began on a volunteer basis through Hillsdale’s GOAL program. A year later, he transferred to the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office, where he served as undersheriff for nearly ten years. “I enjoyed the policy development and administrative aspects of the job, including writing grants,” he recalls, “but I wanted to move on.” In 2010, JJ joined Hillsdale Hospital as director of organizational development, where he was responsible for human resources, staff education and training, safety, security, and governmental affairs. In 2018, he was promoted to vice president, then a year later, to chief operating officer. Last June, he took the helm upon former president Duke Anderson’s retirement.
“Working in health care is the best job I’ve had,” JJ says. “Every day is different and dynamic, and it’s very rewarding.”
But health care comes with considerable challenges, too. Throw a pandemic into the mix, and the results are devastating, especially for small, rural hospitals. To bring attention to the critical role that rural hospitals play, JJ launched a Hillsdale Hospital podcast, Rural Health Rising, in November. The podcast features discussions with experts in rural issues and rural health. “More than 130 small hospitals have closed since 2010,” he says. “They are critical not only in providing access to care for rural residents, but also to economic infrastructure and community identity.” Furthermore, JJ advocates for rural hospitals as a member of the Legislative Policy Committee of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.
As a Hillsdale College alumnus, JJ is proud of the strong relationship between the College and the hospital. In recent years, the College and hospital developed a collaborative program for behavioral health services, as well as a program in which Hillsdale students can take free certified nursing assistant (CNA) classes and volunteer at the hospital. The hospital also offers a free flu shot clinic on campus each September. In the wake of COVID-19, the relationship has been further solidified. “I have a weekly COVID readiness and response call with staff from the College each week,” JJ says. “We share information and resources.” Just last month, the College provided the hospital access to an ultra-low-temperature freezer, thereby giving it the capability to store COVID-19 vaccines.
Even with the many challenges that 2020 brought, JJ is heartened by the hospital’s accomplishments as well as the support of the community. “We’ve added new services, like urology, and we’ve opened clinics in the towns of Litchfield and Reading within Hillsdale County,” he says. “I’ve really seen the community come together through all of this—the notes of encouragement; the donations of masks, gloves, and food; the unsolicited donations—the community has come alive.”
It’s that spirit of the community that motivates JJ to volunteer his time in so many other ways beyond his job at the hospital. He currently serves on the boards of the Hillsdale County Community Foundation, Southeast Michigan Workforce Development, and the Hillsdale County Economic Development Corporation. “I want to see this community thrive,” he says. “So I want to be at the table to make decisions that will help direct the community.” JJ is also an ordained minister, and for 20 years, he has served in a pulpit supply capacity for local churches. “I’ve always had a passion for ministry,” he says.
With such a demanding career and schedule, JJ is grateful for the love and support of his wife and their four children. He is also grateful for the foundation he received at Hillsdale College. “It all started with Hillsdale College,” he says. “I believe in the ideals of the College. I believe in this community. It’s a wonderful feeling to serve the College and the community.”
Read more from the January Newsletter: