Critical access hospitals (CAHs) — 1,350 rural hospitals across the country with 25 inpatient beds or less — play a vital role in the communities they serve:
They offer access to primary care and emergency care services — services that might not otherwise be available to residents unless they traveled longer distances.
They work closely with other local health care organizations — clinics, emergency medical services (EMS), and other providers — to ensure a system of care to support rural residents.
They develop and maintain community partnerships to help identify and address larger community health needs.
They’re also typically one of the top employers in their community.
CAHs are anchor institutions: They’re essential to the economic and social fabric of the communities where they’re located.
While the country’s State Offices of Rural Health are tasked by the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Program with assisting CAHs and other providers in improving access to sustainable, high-quality health care in rural communities, the National Rural Health Resource Center’s Technical Assistance & Services Center (TASC) offers CAHs, state Flex Programs, and other rural stakeholders the education, tools, and direct support needed to preserve these small hospitals, with a focus on maintaining their financial stability and improving the quality of their services.
As a Flex Coordinator, the support and guidance TASC provides is critical. The TASC team helps new Flex Coordinators understand the complexities of the grant, but they also support seasoned Coordinators with networking and furthering their development to better support rural hospitals.
Stephanie Sayegh, Idaho Flex and SHIP Coordinator, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
TASC staff help rural health leaders to address concerns related to improvements in quality, operational and financial performance, population health, and rural EMS. Staff also share resources about innovative model development, the transition to value-based care, facility designation, federal regulations, and Flex Program management.
Two new educational videos now available from the National Rural Health Resource Center highlight the prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the country’s rural communities and the steps that critical access hospitals and other small rural hospitals can take to improve access to much-needed pulmonary rehabilitation services.
Fairview Regional Medical Center (FRMC) has been recognized by the National Rural Health Resource Center for its use of innovative approaches for recruiting and retaining clinical and administrative staff.
This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB1RH24206, Information Services to Rural Hospital Flexibility Program Grantees, $1,100,000 (0% financed with nongovernmental sources). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.