Corporate sponsors are not only an important resource for funding for the mission of NOSORH, they are experts in rural health and often partners to the State Offices of Rural Health. This important work will be featured in a series of articles over the next few months.

The Compliance Team (TCT) is a long standing supporter of the NOSORH mission. Their journey into rural America started 22 years ago when Sandra Canally, RN, began writing quality standards in language everyone could easily understand. Over time, TCT became known for accrediting “Exemplary Providers” in the world of Pharmacy and Durable Medical Equipment. In 2014, CMS approved TCT for the Rural Health Clinic (RHC) program.

TCT strives to understand the unique challenges of rural communities and has developed programs to be easily understood, achieved, and workable, even when a clinic has a small staff and limited financial resources. At the heart of each program are the operationally based “Safety-Honesty-Caring® “ quality standards, which put patients first. These standards serve as a continuous improvement protocol that is customizable and provider-friendly.  The Compliance Team assigns each clinic is assigned an accreditation advisor who conducts a series of teleconferences and webinars guiding participants through understanding and implementing the quality standards. Content includes: Administration, Patient Services, Infection Control, Risk Management, Corporate Compliance, Human Resources, Government Regulatory Requirements and the Conditions for Certification required for RHCs.

“Since joining TCT in 2013, I’ve had the privilege to travel across our great country speaking about RHC compliance, and more recently, introducing our new Patient-Centered Medical Home program. No matter where I might be in a given week, I’m always impressed by the dedication shown by healthcare staff in rural America. I must include the many State Offices of Rural Health staff members who provide support to our rural-based population through education and innovation,” said Kate Hill, Vice President of Clinical Services.

TCT routinely partners with State Offices of Rural Health and rural organizations to provide customized one-hour webinars, which include discussing the most commonly cited deficiencies found during recent surveys. The deficiencies surveyors routinely identify include: expired medications; multiple-dose vials stored past their beyond-use-date; expired or missing laboratory control solutions; no evidence of chart review for NPs and PAs; protocols for surgical instrument processing inconsistent with instructions for use or CDC guidelines; autoclave protocols inconsistent with instructions for use; consents for minors not properly executed; inadequate follow up process for referrals, labs or diagnostic studies; and improperly stored oxygen cylinders.

There are important things to stress in training. Surveyors often see policies still in template form. If a clinic purchases a generic policy binder, they must be personalized and accurate to the clinic’s practices. This is especially important for provider-based clinics, as the “parent” hospital may have different requirements, some of which are not as stringent as RHC requirements. All clinic policies must be reviewed annually, as stated in 42 CFR 491.9. Clinic staff must be familiar with day-to-day policies and those essential to protecting the safety of patients and staff in emergencies.

“Moving forward, it is my hope that NOSORH and TCT will continue to work together supporting America’s rural health clinics in the same collegial manner that has made our organizations the respected “go to” source for the latest in clinic compliance,” said Hill.

For more information about The Compliance Team and the work they do, please contact Kate Hill.

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