|Center for Rural Health receives funding to support rural hospitals|
For the 11th consecutive year, the Center for Rural Health (CRH) at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences has received funding to support rural hospitals through the North Dakota Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Program.
The CRH has received a grant in excess of $636,000, which is an increase of approximately 3 percent from the previous year. Funds from the federal Office of Rural Health Policy are used by the CRH to administer the North Dakota Flex program, a state-based partnership that works with and assists rural hospitals to stabilize and sustain their local health care infrastructure.
“In North Dakota, we use partnerships between the federal government, the state and rural hospitals to strengthen and improve the rural health care infrastructure,” said Marlene Miller, CRH Flex program director. “Specifically, we combine grant dollars and community development techniques to help Critical Access Hospitals address local and area needs.”
Since it began in 1998, the North Dakota Flex program has provided nearly $4 million directly to rural hospitals, which has benefited about 120 rural communities. In addition to grants, the Center for Rural Health uses Flex funds to provide technical assistance to rural providers for performance improvement planning, staff surveys, and leadership development. These services help facilities look at their community’s needs and assist them with their planning activities.
“Funds have been used in very meaningful ways,” said Miller. “In North Dakota, funds have been used in the areas of health information technology, quality improvement, strategic planning, hospital finance, leadership development, board training, trauma system support and emergency medical services.”
The Flex Program relies on each of the state’s hospitals to ensure its success. “Working collaboratively is at the heart of the Flex Program, and North Dakotans are known for working well together, sharing scarce resources, and providing quality care to our rural citizens,” said Miller. Eight rural hospital administrators from across the state form the Flex Program Advisory Committee, and they provide advice on the program’s goals and activities.
The Center for Rural Health’s Flex program operates in partnership with the North Dakota Healthcare Review, Inc., the North Dakota Healthcare Association and the North Dakota Department of Health.
-- Denis MacLeod, Communications Coordinator, Center for Rural Health, email@example.com, 777-3300