Jody Ward
Senior Project Coordinator
North Dakota Center for Rural Health

How did you get to where you are now?
I have a master’s degree in Advanced Public Health Nursing from the University of North Dakota and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Minot State University. Before joining the Center for Rural Health in 2008, I was a Health Care QI Project Coordinator for our state’s QIO and was an ICU registered nurse. I currently coordinate activities of the ND Flex Program. I have led the ND CAH Quality Network(Network) in a number of quality and patient safety initiatives and serve as a liaison to statewide stakeholders, facilitating the exchange of information and network development.

What are 3 great things about rural health in your state?
1. The Network serves as a platform for CAHs to share best practices, policies and processes to improve quality improvement and safer patient care.

2. ND CAHs have strength in numbers!  100% (36/36) participate in the Network to share ideas or topics. Through collaborative work of the Network, ND Flex Program, SORH and other stakeholders, a statewide stroke system of care was developed.

3. The ND Flex Program provides an opportunity for CAH staff to learn from their peers.The Rural Healthcare Peer Exchange Program provides travel support for individuals or small groups to meet with similar entities from other areas of the state and share information and successful approaches to improving quality and access to healthcare services.

What is the most important thing you are working on right now?
The Network recently completed an update to a  CMS Conditions of Participation CAH regulations checklist that has been created using Flex funding. The checklist highlights conditions that require policies and processes in place to meet the regulation. The technical assistance provided has been identified by our CAHs as a top priority area. In addition to the checklist, the Network hosts quarterly webinar meetings, which all ND CAHs join with their teams to discuss their state survey experience, and deficiencies, along with their plans of correction.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
I stay engaged in rural topics and always look for opportunities to learn from what others are doing. I regularly attend meetings offered by our project officers and national technical assistance center, attend education opportunities, volunteer to be on committees (a good way to meet other state programs), and read as much as I can. Engage other state programs and ask how they had success on something and learn from them.

What do you do when you are not working?
Make memories with my husband of 33 years and 2 daughters. We also have 2 little dogs that I groom and walk. I am a movie-goer, enjoy reading, and attend Aqua Dance and Aqua Exercise 3 days a week.