Due to the complex nature of modern healthcare, we believe it is crucial to broaden our perspectives in order to continually improve healthcare access and delivery. The speakers for Bridges to Access 2019 hail from different backgrounds, careers, and experiences, yet they are all dedicated to the health and people of Oklahoma. Learn more from their bios below.



Sumun Khetpal is a third-year medical student at Yale University and a co-founder of Ride Health, a healthcare technology company that aims to alleviate the transportation barrier to care. She graduated from the Vagelos Life Sciences and Management (LSM) Program at the University of Pennsylvania, where she pursued a dual degree in Biology at the College of Arts and Sciences and Healthcare Management and Policy at the Wharton School. She is a recipient of the Wharton Dean’s Award for Innovation, the highest undergraduate honor, and was an Innovation Finalist at the Americans College of Physicians in 2018. Sumun graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and is originally from Durant, Oklahoma. 


keynote speaker: dr. karla finnell

Karla Finnell, J.D., M.P.H., Ph.D earned her degrees from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma Hudson College of Public Health. After a career in health policy and program development aiming to expand federal qualified health centers (FQHCs) in medically underserved areas in the states of New Mexico and Kansas, Dr. Finnell transitioned to academia. Her research interests include health disparities, the social determinants of health, and social marketing. She is the principal investigator for a social marketing project promoting nutrition and physical activity among low-income populations and the principle investigator responsible for the evaluation of an Oklahoma City teen pregnancy prevention project. She recently completed a community-based research study exploring factors associated with

the late initiation of prenatal care among urban African American women and the relationship between the social determinants of health and adequacy of care.


Panelist: Belinda heater

Belinda “Buffy” Heater is currently the Chief Data, Public Policy, and Promotion Officer for the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Prior to her work at the Department of Health, she worked for 12 years at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, with 2 years as the Chief Strategy Officer. Ms. Heater earned her B.S. in Biology/Chemistry from Northeastern State University and her M.P.H. in Health Administration and Policy from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.


panelist: keith smith, m.d.

Dr. Keith Smith is a practicing anesthesiologist. He is the co-founder of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, a cash-based medical center in Oklahoma City. He earned an M.D. at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, and trained at both the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the University of Arkansas.


panelist: Val schott, m.p.h.

Val Schott, MPH, is Senior Vice President for Business Development at Rural Community Hospitals of America. His responsibilities include identification and discussions with potential clients including rural hospital boards, administrators, and their communities. He has developed methods and processes relating to community engagement, reporting, and evaluation for rural hospitals and their community health systems. He continues to be involved in community-level strategic planning to improve rural health delivery systems.

Mr. Schott has been an advocate for rural health providers for over 20 years. He advocates for policy and legislative changes for improvement in rural health systems, increased efficiencies, and reduced costs. He advocates for legislation that will benefit rural communities across the nation as well as promoting the education of rural health care professionals through frequent speaking engagements. He is involved in research and policy analysis to ensure access to quality health services for rural people.


panelist: Dr. Dale bratzler

Dale Bratzler, DO, MPH, was recently appointed as the Enterprise Chief Quality Officer of OU Medicine heath system. In this role, he implements the shared mission and values of OU Medicine with a particular emphasis on strategic and comprehensive quality planning for both the three-hospital health system and faculty practice of the University of Oklahoma. He serves as a Professor in the Colleges of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and was named the 2016 Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professor.

After nearly 15 years of private, hospital-based, practice in internal medicine, Dr. Bratzler assumed a role as the medical director for the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality and served as the organization’s chief executive officer for three years before joining the OU faculty. He has worked on the development and maintenance of national performance measures used to profile and publicly report metrics on quality of inpatient and outpatient healthcare as a contractor to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. He has served twice as the President of the American Health Quality Association, is a past member of the National Advisory Council for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and a recent member of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has published more than a hundred peer-reviewed manuscripts in journals including JAMA, the New England Journal of Medicine, Medical Care, and others, and has given nearly 700 invited lectures nationally on topics related to improving healthcare quality.

He received his medical degree from the Kansas City University College of Medicine and Biosciences and his Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Oklahoma. He is board certified in internal medicine. He is a Master Fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Internists, and a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.