Critical access hospitals in Kansas serve a vital role in the health of smaller communities, and twenty of them working with The University of Kansas Health System Care Collaborative will soon reap the rewards of a nearly $2 million dollar grant. The money was awarded by the Patterson Family Foundation to be used over three years for something patients won’t see, but they will feel.
“The practice of medicine evolves very quickly. Because of their smaller size, rural critical access hospitals can face distinct challenges in learning, implementing, and staying current with ever-changing practices and regulations aimed at improving quality of care,” said Jessica Hunt, Vice President of Strategy and Programs for the Patterson Family Foundation. “The Care Collaborative, initially funded through a CMS innovation grant, provides a model for helping independent rural hospitals stay aligned with the latest evidence-based standards of care. This aim is fundamental to the Patterson Family Foundation’s vision for thriving rural communities, and we are proud to support the model’s expansion.”
“The Center for Medicare and Medicaid services holds rural community hospitals to the same high standards of patient safety and continuous performance improvement as urban and teaching health systems,” said Jodi Schmidt, former CEO of a rural hospital and executive director of the Care Collaborative. “But larger health systems have more people and access to technology that tracks and streamlines performance improvement and safety initiatives.”
Schmidt points to crash carts used in emergency resuscitations as one example of vital safety work happening behind the scenes that everyone can understand. Schmidt says someone must restock and/or monitor crash carts daily. The grant will cover the cost of new data management software to automate and enhance critical monitoring of crash carts and other essential equipment for these critical access hospitals across Kansas. The grant will also cover the sharing of best practices for infection prevention protocols that have changed remarkably during the pandemic.
“Our goal is to ensure that rural patients have the same access to the highest level of evidence-based care that patients would receive in an urban area,” said Schmidt. “We really believe that by connecting rural providers to the resources available at our academic teaching hospital, we can assist them in a way, which in turn leads to evidence-based practice at the local level.”
A lot of work went into applying for the grant which has leaders at the critical hospitals excited.
“We truly appreciate the guidance and resources being provided,” said Kerrianne Ehrlich, RN, administrator, Ellsworth County Health Department.
Margo Breon, RN, Phillips County Hospital said, “Thank you so much for the work that went into getting this grant. You have already given us an enormous amount of help to get things rolling!”
The twenty critical access hospitals include Cheyenne County Hospital, Citizens Medical Center, Clara Barton Hospital, Clay County Medical Center, Coffey County Hospital, Edwards County Hospital, Ellsworth County Medical Center, Graham County Hospital, Herington Hospital, Jewell County Hospital, Kingman Healthcare Center, Logan County Health Services, Nemaha Valley Community Hospital, Pawnee Valley, Phillips County Health Systems, Republic County Hospital, Rooks County Health Center, Smith County Memorial and St. Luke Hospital.