Quality Improvement in Kansas

by Kat Barrow

As a part of my MPH program for the University of Nebraska Medical Center, I am excited to be working as an intern for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). The Kansas Office of Primary Care and Rural Health’s mission is to “aid Kansas rural and medically underserved communities in building sustainable access to quality, patient-centered primary health care services.” I am working closely with Cynthia Snyder, the Director of Special Populations/Primary Care and Rural Health, and Tracy Zayac, the Kansas FLEX Program Coordinator. The Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (FLEX) Program is a federal initiative designed to support Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) throughout the United States. Under FLEX, KDHE is tasked with addressing quality improvements, operational and financial improvements, health system development and community engagement, and designation of CAHs in Kansas. My role this summer is to support the FLEX program by 1.) Examination of the effectiveness of the Quality 101 events for quality improvement staff and 2.) Contribute to the understanding of factors impacting turnover in CAH quality positions.

So far, I have been working to organize data from event registrations to get a broad view of which hospitals are experiencing quality improvement staff turnover. I attended the “Turning Quality into Improvement Event” in Emporia, Kanas which provided training for improvement initiatives after quality data had been gathered and reported. Factors relating to turnover in rural hospitals are immensely complex. My academic experience has taught me to approach these issues with a systems-thinking approach. Under the guidance of the hardworking KDHE staff and Kansas Hospital Association partners, this is an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of program evaluation, rural healthcare retention, and collaboration to improve quality.

In the coming weeks, I look forward to interviewing current and previous quality improvement staff to gain insight into their experiences.

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