To the general public, health care is often viewed as one big (and confusing) system, regardless of whether one lives in an urban or a rural area. However, while there are certain characteristics of health care that are common across the board, no matter where that health care is delivered, rural health care delivery has an abundance of distinct and, sometimes, daunting challenges simply not encountered by hospitals in areas with larger populations. That’s been the reality for as long as small towns have had hospitals, and it’s more evident today than ever.
Approximately 20% of the population in the United States—roughly 60 million people—live in rural areas, which comprise roughly 97% of the nation’s land area. At the same time, people living in rural America have less access to health care and are more likely than urban residents to die from heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic lower respiratory diseases. That is just one example of the multi-factorial challenges that rural health care facilities encounter and address on an on-going basis.
With these challenges and others in mind, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health created National Rural Health Day (NRHD) in 2010 as a way to applaud and recognize meritorious ongoing efforts, contributions, and collaborations occurring in rural communities to address those challenges that are unique to health care facilities.
As part of National Rural Health Day, the Colorado Rural Health Center (CRHC) recognizes one rural health facility for demonstrated excellence in rural health care delivery, and this year’s recipient is Kiowa County Hospital District. The office of Governor Polis has issued a proclamation to that effect, which will be read by Eads Mayor Joe Shields at a luncheon for hospital staff, local elected officials and members of the public to be held at the Cobblestone Inn from 12 to 1:30pm on November 21st.
Two KCHD programs were specifically highlighted by the Colorado Rural Health Center.
The first program, KCHD’s Patient Family Advisory Council, was created as part of the Patient Medical Home Center initiative, and its mission is exactly what its name would suggest. A council comprised of patients, family members and KCHD staff members meets on a quarterly basis for the purpose of offering feedback to KCHD on meeting the needs of the patients, addressing concerns or barriers to health care, enhancing patient experiences and services at KCHD as well as potentially developing new services. Suggestions and feedback from the council are then taken to the PFAC steering committee which includes Eads Clinic employees and KCHD leadership.
The second program highlighted by CRHC is the Chronic Disease Management Program, which was designed and implemented by Kourtney Richards, B.S.N., R.N. with the Eads Medical Clinic.
The Chronic Disease Management Program is vital to supporting those patients who have been diagnosed with two chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, osteoporosis, mental health needs, dementia, and others.
Once the patient is enrolled in the program, Richards follows each person individually, ensuring proper labs and office visits are completed. She also communicates with the patient, their primary care provider and their specialty doctors to ensure a collaborative effort toward achieving their disease management goals including creating personalized patient centered care plans. Each month, Richards has at least 20 minutes of contact with each patient and their whole consult team as well as refilling medications and reviewing consult notes and “all the other behind the scenes work that goes into patient care.” This innovative program is especially effective and currently has 141 patients enrolled with more patients being referred all the time.
This recognition from the Colorado Rural Health Center was not the only accolade bestowed upon KCHD. Several weeks ago, the CRHC also presented the hospital with a certificate of excellence for demonstrated commitment to achieving high standards in quality measures and patient care. As straightforward as that may sound, achieving excellence in these areas involves accomplishing a number of different objectives in a number of different areas on an on-going basis.
Char Korrell, CEO of KCHD, had the following statement about the recognition the facility has received. “It’s always nice to be acknowledged by the CRHC and other groups for the good work we’re doing at KCHD,” she states, “and it’s recognition the staff deserves for all the commitment, devotion and energy they bring to their jobs every single day. Our mission is and always will be to deliver the most compassionate, effective, highest quality health care possible to all the patients we serve now and will serve in the future.”
Members of the public are welcome to come to the luncheon honoring Rural Health Care Day, which will be held at the Cobblestone Inn on November 21st from 12:00 to 1:30.
FULL DISCLOSURE; Priscilla Waggoner is currently serving as Chairperson of the Board of Directors at Kiowa County Hospital District.