Pennsylvania Critical Access Hospital Program receives national recognition

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has recognized 10 states for outstanding quality performance of their Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) in achieving the highest reporting rates and levels of improvement over the past year.

The 10 top-performing states — Wisconsin, Maine, Utah, Minnesota, Illinois and Pennsylvania (tied), Michigan, Nebraska, Indiana and Massachusetts — built on their previous successes by investing Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) funds into quality improvement projects and developing technical assistance resources that improve high-quality care in their communities. States also work collaboratively with every CAH and their respective partners to share best practices and utilize data to drive quality improvement in their hospitals. 

“Rural hospitals are key safety-net providers in their communities and it is important that we make every effort to provide the highest quality of care to individuals living in rural communities,” said Dr. George Sigounas, HRSA administrator. “Critical Access Hospitals may be limited in resources, but they have strong connections to their community and a commitment to quality care for every patient that is reflected in their effort to meet higher standards.”

In 2011, FORHP, located within the HRSA, created a program to promote high quality of care at rural hospitals with 25 beds or fewer. Low-volume hospitals participating in the Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) voluntarily report on a set of quality measures relevant to the care they provide, share data, and take on quality improvement initiatives. Currently, 96 percent of the 1,340 CAHs in the United States are reporting rural-relevant quality measures.

Pennsylvania has 15 Critical Access Hospitals, which serve the most rural communities in the state. The federal initiative is administered in the state by the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH). 

“The Pennsylvania Critical Access Hospitals and their quality improvement staff are to be commended for their dedication to providing outstanding health care in their rural communities,” said Larry Baronner, PORH’s rural health systems manager and deputy director. “Receiving this recognition once again demonstrates a continued commitment to quality improvement.”

“It is truly an honor to work with a talented group of clinicians and leaders at the Critical Access Hospitals in Pennsylvania,” added Lannette Johnston, quality improvement coordinator at PORH. “They ensure that patients receive the best quality care. Receiving this award is just one of the many ways in which these leaders enhance high quality rural health.”

PORH formed in 1991 as a joint partnership between the federal government, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Penn State. The office is one of 50 state offices of rural health in the nation funded under a program administered by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is charged with being a source of coordination, technical assistance, and networking; partnership development; and assisting in the recruitment and retention of health care providers. 

PORH provides expertise in the areas of rural health, agricultural health and safety, and community and economic development. PORH is administratively housed in the Department of Health Policy and Administration in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State's University Park campus. 

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Last Updated July 25, 2017