CEO Update: Giving Thanks for Rural Strength

CEO Update: Giving Thanks for Rural Strength

“A tree is a symbol of immense and enduring strength. A general symbolic meaning of a tree can be interpreted as protection.” – Universe of Symbolism

With the rural hospital closure crisis at an all-time high, Colorado has been fortunate to avoid this fate.  In part that is due to expansion of Medicaid and the Hospital Provider Fee, but it is also a credit to the enduring strength of our rural facilities.  Day-in and day-out our rural hospitals, clinics, long term care, providers and staff work to serve their communities and ensure they have high quality care that is local.

In 2019, Colorado’s Critical Access Hospitals and Rural Health Clinics made it to the 10th and final year of the iCARE (Improving Communications and Readmissions) Program.  iCARE was the first quality improvement program launched by CRHC that was designed just for our rural communities. Goals of the program include improving communications in transitions of care, maintaining low readmission rates and improving clinical processes. Additionally, there has been a focus on how the activities and goals of the iCARE program align with other state and national initiatives in an effort to create more efficient processes. Our current data shows the following accomplishments by the rural communities participating in the program:

Clinics –

  • Controlling High Blood Pressure (NQF #0018) – 64%
  • A1c Poor Control (>9.0%) (NQF #0059) –  35%
  • Diabetic Patients with HBA1c test performed – 71%

Hospitals –

  • Percent of Readmissions for Same/Similar Diagnosis – 3%
  • Examining low severity levels of evaluation and management codes –
    • Data shows the main diagnoses are cough, fever, acute upper respiratory infections, and constipation.
    • The baseline frequency of low level severity emergency visits – 29% compared to current at 17%.
    • The decrease can be attributed to changes iCARE hospitals are implementing, which include extending clinic and pharmacy hours during the week and/or weekend.


CRHC invested $2.6 million into rural communities in Colorado in 2019 and below highlights some of those accomplishments:

  • The 2019 Snapshot of Rural Health was developed and dispersed to partners, legislators and you – highlighted data specific only to rural communities in Colorado
  • The Policy and Advocacy program tracked 78 bills that impacted access to care in rural Colorado, took positions on 44 of them and CRHC testified 18 times
  • Close to 50 webinar and on-site trainings dedicated to CAHs and RHCs on topics ranging from billing and coding, and financial management to quality improvement as it relates to improving chronic disease management and transitions of care and health information technology
  • Completed three years of practice facilitation and HIT support for the State Innovation Model, SIM program
  • Implemented first ever Rural CO Primary Care (PC) Leaders program to support 40 primary care providers in rural areas to become better leaders in their community and statewide and for themselves and clinic.
  • Spent over 150 hours supporting rural clinics and hospitals with basic to complex IT needs
  • Invested over $600,000 to support quality improvement efforts
  • Invested over $780,000 to support emergency preparedness efforts


If you haven’t signed up for membership yet, there’s still time. We are dedicated to providing the services and resources you need to ensure you are supported and engaged!

Have a very Happy New Year!


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