Stratis Health Announces National Virtual Quality Improvement Mentors for Critical Access Hospitals

September 19, 2019

Stratis Health announced eight critical access hospital (CAH) staff who will serve as national Virtual Quality Improvement Mentors through a new initiative that aims to broadly transfer knowledge from leading CAH quality improvement staff to others across the country. The initiative is organized through Rural Quality Improvement Technical Assistance (RQITA), a program of Stratis Health supported by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP).

These eight outstanding mentors were selected from a pool of candidates across the country who were nominated by their respective state Flex programs as quality improvement leaders. They each successfully report and use data to support quality improvement activities in their small rural hospitals. They represent the diversity of CAHs across the nation, with varying rural locations, service lines, and patient volumes which average 2.5 to 16 patients per day and 1,300 to 13,000 emergency room visits annually.

“Critical Access Hospital” is a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) designation given to eligible rural hospitals, with 25 beds or less, to reduce the financial vulnerability and improve access to health care by keeping essential services in rural communities.

“Quality improvement initiatives are essential to improve outcomes and provide the highest quality care to every patients,” said Sarah Brinkman, Stratis Health rural quality expert. “These Quality Improvement Mentors work with limited resources and hold many roles within their hospital, all the while looking for ways to provide the best care for their patients. We believe other small rural hospitals can learn from their experience and be inspired by their drive.”

Of the 1,343 CAHs across the U.S., more than 1,320 were participating in FORHP’s Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) at the end of 2016.

The new Virtual Quality Improvement Mentors are:

  • Amy Arnett, Horizon Health – Paris Community Hospital, Paris, IL,
  • Cindy Gilman, Carroll County Memorial Hospital, Carrollton, MO
  • Mariah Hesse, Sparrow Clinton Hospital, St. Johns, MI
  • Karen Hooker, Kit Carson County Health Service District, Burlington, CO
  • Christy Mintah, Avera Holy Family Hospital, Estherville, IA,
  • Ben Power, Barrett Hospital & Healthcare, Dillon, MT
  • ArvaDell Sharp, Pembina County Memorial Hospital, Cavalier, ND
  • Brenda Stevenson, Titusville Area Hospital, Titusville, PA

The Virtual Quality Improvement Mentors will share their examples and advice on how to address common quality improvement challenges that occur in CAHs. RQITA will capture these strategies, tips, and ideas to disseminate them broadly to others serving in CAH quality roles. Articles and podcasts will be made available to advance the quality improvement work of others.

The initiative kicked off September 18 at the 2019 National Rural Health Association CAH Conference, in Kansas City, Missouri.