Critical Access Hospitals Measure up for Quality. Quality improvement efforts by Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) were recognized on Wednesday with awards to the ten states achieving the highest reporting rates for quality over the past year. Through their state-level participation in FORHP’s Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) grant program, the ten awardees – Wisconsin, Maine, Utah, Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nebraska, Indiana and Massachusetts – supported their CAHs by providing technical assistance resources and sharing best practices for quality improvement. Under the Flex program, low-volume hospitals take on quality improvement initiatives in the Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) and voluntarily report on quality measures relevant to the care they provide.
Awards for Radiation Exposure Screening and Education. FORHP recently awarded approximately $1.6 million over a three-year project period to support outreach services to individuals affected by nuclear weapons testing that took place from 1945 to 1962, impacting 12 Southwestern states and exposing tens of thousands of uranium miners, truck drivers and desert-dwellers known as “downwinders” to radiation. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) was instituted in 1990 to compensate affected people and the act was broadened in 2000 to include the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program (RESEP). Many downwinders, former uranium industry workers, and participants who were onsite for testing are now deceased but may have surviving family members who are eligible for compensation. The eight RESEP grantees recently awarded will disseminate information on radiogenic diseases and the importance of early detection, screen eligible individuals for the diseases and cancers that result from radiation exposure, and provide referrals for medical treatment. A priority for these organizations is to assist with the filing of new RECA claims.