Meet Our Leaders

Rachelle Spencer, Chief Executive Officer

Rachelle brings to her role thirty years of healthcare leadership experience in a variety of hospital settings in Arizona and New Mexico.  She joined the RHSC team in November of 2022.  She is passionate about creating an environment where both patients and team members can thrive.

Rachelle received her business degree from Northern Arizona University and her MBA from Arizona State University.  She is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

In Rachelle’s spare time, she enjoys playing golf, gardening and exploring the area with her husband.

Reza Bagherpour, Medical Director

Dr. Reza Bagherpour currently serves as Medical Director of Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern California in Rancho Mirage, located near Palm Springs in sunny southern California. He provides direct patient care for individuals suffering from orthopedic, neurological, musculoskeletal, rheumatic and traumatic injuries.

Dr. Bagherpour earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Irvine in Biological Sciences. He continued his medical education at Ross University before starting a surgical residency at the University of Miami; he also completed a residency in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia.

Dr. Bagherpour is a physician researcher and leader who has been published in peer-reviewed medical journals including the American Journal of Physiology and Practical Pain Management while working at UCI, UCLA and USC. He completed a Fellowship at the University of Minnesota specializing in Medical Devices; while there, he worked with some of the world’s largest technology companies, including  Medtronic and Boston Scientific, to innovate technologies impactful for healthcare. He also served as the medical director of a health plan.

With this multiplicity of facets in his background, Dr. Bagherpour has become an ideal patient advocate.

His expertise in providing patient centered care extends to neurological disorders- including Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease- and cardiovascular diseases and the pathologies underlying lymphedema, cancer, diabetes, wound care, spasticity, and pulmonary disease and sleep disorders.

Outside of work, Dr. Bagherpour enjoys spending time with his amazing wife and kids.  When opportunities arise he enjoys playing basketball and tennis.

Sue Romkema, Chief Nursing Officer

Susan brings over 22 years’ experience in acute care nursing to the Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern California. Susan has extensive experience in neurological/ stroke nursing and executive nursing leadership. Susan graduated with a doctorate in nursing in 2018 and most recently completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Executive Nursing Leadership from Case Western Reserve University in 2023. Susan is a Board Certified Nurse Executive and Stroke Nurse. She is a caregiver at heart and she is passionate about supporting and guiding nurses and healthcare teams  to continue to learn and grow, so they can provide excellent patient care.

Susan spends much of  her spare time in Big Bear with her family, friends  and dogs, and enjoys a wide variety of hobbies including baking, hiking and riding motorcycles.

Doreen Livingston, Director of Marketing and Business Development

Director of Marketing & Business Development with over 15 years of inpatient rehabilitation hospital experience in marketing and in serving as a clinical liaison across Phoenix and California. As director of marketing & business development, Doreen manages the hospital’s marketing team and the admissions process. She works alongside the CEO and medical director to build the patient referrals and provide leadership and direction to the clinical liaison and admission team.

Before joining Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern California, Livingston served as the Market Director of Business Development in Phoenix and built the marketing, clinical liaisons, and admission teams who focused on building relationships with surrounding physician groups, hospitals, and case managers, resulting in patient referrals and streamlined admission processes.

Doreen holds a degree in nursing from Wayne College

Shamim Tejani, Director of Pharmacy

Shamim Tejani assumed the role of  Director of Pharmacy in October 2019. Shamim has over 30 years of experience as a clinical pharmacist and brings a wealth of knowledge to our facility in the area of pharmacy best practices. Prior to her role at RHSC she practiced in pediatric critical care, clinical pharmacy management, medication safety and quality.

She is a Certified Joint Commission Professional. Shamim obtained her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from University of Maryland at Baltimore and her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science.

Susan Erickson, Director of Therapy

Susan brings over 25 years of acute rehabilitation experience to the Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern California.

Originating from the Bay Area, Susan earned a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy at Samuel Merritt College in Oakland, California.  She enjoys working most with patients with neurological injuries, specifically stroke, and is Certified in Advanced NDT training.

Prior to her current role, Susan held the Therapy Lead position at the hospital.  Now, she enjoys having a greater impact on the therapy department as well as the overall success of the hospital through her management position.

When not working, Susan in an avid golfer and loves hiking.

Nickole Hornbeck, Director of Patient Outcomes

Nickole is joining the administration of Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern California as the Director of Patient Outcomes. Originally from the Midwest, Nickole achieved her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Ohio University. Almost immediately, Nickole was drawn to the Inpatient Rehabilitation setting where she has spent the majority of her career thus far.

A Physical Therapist for 7 years, she is centered on the functional rehabilitation of our patients from admission to discharge as well as establishing a discharge plan to ease the patient and family back to the community. She originally joined the Ernest team as a staff Physical Therapist. Finding her passion for Leadership, she has embraced her role as Director of Patient Outcomes and strives to facilitate the best patient experience for our patients.

In her free time, Nickole can be found traveling the country and enjoying hiking, running, and biking in the outdoors with her husband and two dogs.

Kristie McCoy, Director of Compliance

Kristie has over 20 years of experience in leadership and clinical education. Committed to safe patient care as Director of Compliance, she is dedicated to supporting the frontline clinical staff/ancillary teams.

Kristie holds a Masters degree in Nursing Education from Missouri State University, and Bachelors degrees in Nursing (BSN) and French/Spanish/International Business (BS).

Kristie enjoys riding dirt bikes, long-distance adventure motorcycling, sailing, hunting, and anything outdoors!

Jesus Jimenez, Director of Plant Operations

Jesse enjoys making sure that all facility equipment is well maintained and operates efficiently with no issues.

He brings 30 years of experience in health care environment, 23 of the 30 has been as the Director of Plant Operations, and he begin his health care carrier as a painter and slowly moved up the ranks.

When he is not at work, he enjoys working on projects that include learning computer languages and microprocessor boards.

Robert Taylor, Senior HR Director

With nearly 30 years of progressive experience in Human Resources, Rob is a passionate and seasoned leader. He aspires to create a culture of accountability and cultivate a positive labor climate where employees will flourish and reach their full potential. Rob’s background in Human Resources spans several industries including financial services, teleservices, high tech and healthcare.

Rob entered the healthcare industry in 2003. Over the past two decades, he has held various senior leadership roles with Universal Health, Tenet, Avanti Health and Riverside University Health System (County of Riverside). In these roles Rob was responsible for managing labor relations, employee relations, payroll, benefits, talent acquisition, leadership development, and workers compensation. He has served on various boards, project steering committees and served as project lead and as internal consultant.

Rob joined our Rancho Mirage hospital in late 2018 as Director of Human Resources. He was recently promoted to Senior Director of Human Resources and is responsible for day-to-day Human Resources functions locally and employee and labor relations support across our California region.

Rob is a graduate of East Tennessee State University and holds a dual B.S. in Mass Communications and Political Science. Rob resides in Palm Desert and in his free time enjoys travel and the performing arts.

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The terms "Ernest Health," the "Company," “we,” “us,” or “our” as used in this website refer to Ernest Health and its affiliates, unless otherwise stated or indicated by context. The term “hospitals” or "facilities" refers to entities owned or operated by subsidiaries or affiliates of Ernest Health. References herein to "Ernest Health" or to "our employees" refer to employees of affiliates of Ernest Health.