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Gritman works to improve health care in rural communities

Gritman Medical Center and Idaho’s other 26 critical access hospitals have been recognized by a federal agency for their efforts to improve the quality of health care in rural areas.

Every year, the federal government’s Health Resources and Services Administration, which is responsible for improving health care access for uninsured, isolated and medically vulnerable citizens, recognizes the 10 states with the highest reporting rates and improvement for critical access hospitals. Idaho ranked fourth over the past year.

“Critical access hospitals in rural states like Idaho provide vital services to their communities that may otherwise not be accessible,” Gritman Medical Center President and CEO Kara Besst said. “Gritman has always been committed to providing the best possible care to our communities, and we are proud to be among the hospitals in Idaho recognized for improving the quality of health care in rural areas.”

Idaho’s 27 critical access hospitals serve residents across the state by improving health care access for rural communities. Critical access hospitals are those that have up to 25 in-patient beds, maintain an average length of stay of 96 hours or less for patients, provide 24/7 emergency services and are located more than 35 miles from another hospital or 15 miles in mountainous terrain.

Critical access hospitals are implementing programs to positively impact patient care through quality improvement and data reporting. Examples include: increasing influenza vaccination coverage among health care personnel, antibiotic stewardship (proper prescribing of antibiotics), patient engagement and experience, and improving emergency department transfer communication, among others.

Idaho’s critical access hospitals compared their individual data outcomes to one another, shared strategies and partnered on initiatives to improve outcomes and provide the highest quality of care for every patient. They have maintained 100 percent data transparency to each other in their benchmarking to foster ongoing dialogue and collaboration to improve quality.