Mercy Hospital Waldron recently received an award for achieving quality performance measures for small, rural hospitals.
The hospital is one of only five in Arkansas to receive the Critical Access Hospital Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Reporting Award. It was presented by the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care during the Critical Access Hospital Annual Workshop on June 21 in Little Rock.
Awardees must report quality measures in four areas: patient safety, patient engagement, care transitions and outpatient care. By reporting and improving these quality measures, hospitals can improve quality of care. Better quality improves patient outcomes, thus improving patients’ overall health and controlling costs.
Specifically, Mercy Hospital Waldron has focused on more quickly treating emergency department and cardiac chest pain patients, as well as increasing remote access to specialists for stroke, burn and trauma patients.
“Much focus has been placed on quality at Mercy Waldron,” said Cassie Evans, registered nurse and director of nursing at the hospital. “The co-workers have been working diligently toward those goals.”
Mercy Hospital Waldron also received a certificate recognizing its commitment to quality as evidenced by successfully reporting 100 percent of quality measures in 2017. Only 21 of 29 critical access hospitals in Arkansas received this designation.
Critical access hospitals are small, rural facilities that provide limited outpatient and inpatient hospital services. They have 25 or fewer acute-care, inpatient beds, are located more than 35 miles from another hospital, must maintain an average length-of-stay of 96 hours or less for acute-care patients and provide 24/7 emergency care services.
The critical access designation was created to stem the trend of rural hospital closures during the 1980s and 1990s. The goal was to reduce the financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access to health care by keeping essential health services available in rural communities. To accomplish this goal, these hospitals receive cost-based reimbursement for Medicare services, while larger, acute care hospitals are reimbursed differently.
“Critical access hospitals have transformed health care in many parts of Arkansas and provided a lifeline to rural residents,” said Ray Hanley, chief executive officer of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care. “The foundation is proud to honor these hospitals for the hard work they do every day to ensure each patient gets the most appropriate and best quality of care.”