This month is the real start of fall in the mid-Atlantic region, and I'm looking forward to colored leaves, brisk sunny days and Goldrush apples. Last week I joined nine new and experienced Flex leaders at the Flex Program Workshop in Duluth. I say leaders deliberately because, regardless of your formal positions in your organizations, you are all leading some piece of the rural health improvement efforts in your state. Thank you, everyone, who attended the workshop for making time in your busy schedules to engage in learning and deep thinking about Flex. As always, the workshop reminds me of just how much you need to be aware of to be a Flex Coordinator!
My biggest take-away from this workshop was the importance of building relationships with your critical access hospitals (CAHs) and other local stakeholders. Crystal Barter (Michigan Flex) did a great job of explaining how she uses site visits to develop relationships with CAH staff and understand how to best structure the Flex work to meet Michigan needs. What activities and techniques do you use to build relationships with CAHs and other stakeholders in your state? If you've got an approach that works well, please share it in the Flex Forum.
I've sent several program updates via the e-mail list in October so this is a brief recap. First, we are extending the current Flex project period with an additional non-competing continuation (NCC) year. You will write an NCC progress report next spring (instructions expected to be released in March 2018) and then you will write competing continuation applications in early 2019 for the fiscal year 2019 grant which will start 9/1/2019. Second, the Performance Improvement and Measurement System (PIMS) interface has software errors which we need to fix before finalizing PIMS reports. The developers have scheduled the software patch for November 2, and I will let you know via the e-mail list when the fix is confirmed. In the meantime, you can still log in to PIMS to review your CAH list or print a copy of the online reporting pages to review, but please don't enter any new data.
Also announced on the e-mail list, the 340B Program Hospital Recertification period is October 24-November 21. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has information and tutorials available on the Office of Pharmacy Affairs website. For further assistance, please contact the 340B call center operated by the 340B Prime Vendor Program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-340-2787 (Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. EST).
As mentioned in the September Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) Announcements email, the Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Innovation and Improvement Center is inviting CAHs to participate in the Pediatric Readiness Quality Collaborative. The deadline for applications is October 31.
Finally, FORHP will be celebrating National Rural Health Day in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please share information about the antibiotic stewardship webinar on November 16 and watch for tweets all week from @HRSAgov.
Flex Program Coordinator