November 2019

November 2019

Happy fall, Flex Coordinators!

I’ll start by repeating the news Kristi Martinsen shared in early November:

Welcome Natalia Vargas as the new Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) Coordinator and a Project Officer for the Flex Program! Through her prior positions with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation, Natalia comes to the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) with experience in quality measurement, quality improvement, grants and cooperative agreements, contracts, and program evaluation. She holds a MPH from the University of South Florida and is currently working on her doctorate in Epidemiology from Walden University. Natalia’s quality improvement expertise will strengthen the Flex team.

Thank you everyone for persisting through the IT challenges with the Performance Improvement and Measurement System (PIMS) reporting process in late October and early November. I’m happy to report that all 45 states successfully completed your PIMS reports. I am reviewing the data and I will reach out individually if I have any questions about your state PIMS report.

The Texas Observer is publishing a series of stories about the challenges facing people seeking health care in rural Texas. These stories remind me once again of the importance of rural health care. As the weather turns cold and travel gets more difficult in many parts of the country, I am thankful for all of you and the hard work you do to support local health care access for people in rural communities.

We had several panels and presentations on November 21st at HRSA to recognize the importance of rural health for National Rural Health Day. The presentations were webcast, and we will soon post the recordings.

Finally, I am both pleased and sad to announce that I have accepted a new job as Deputy Director for the Policy Research Division in the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. I have been your Flex Program Coordinator since April 2016, but I will be leaving this role the end of November. For the last three and a half years as program coordinator, I have been very privileged to work with the dedicated and hardworking people that make up the national Flex Program. FORHP will be backfilling the Flex Program Coordinator role; in the interim please send questions to TASC or to your project officer, and they will route questions to the right person to provide answers.

Keep up the great work helping critical access hospitals and rural EMS agencies to improve their performance in quality, operations, finance, and population health! You are helping to ensure that high-quality health care is available in rural communities around the country.

Thank you and farewell until our paths cross again,

Sarah Young

Flex Program Coordinator

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, $1,205,000 (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.