The Region D SORH meeting was held June 28-30 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The meeting was attended by 32 participants, representing every state in the region. The Region D Planning Committee put together a fantastic agenda with speakers from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, CMS, Maine Rural Health Research Center, NORC, the Heartland Telehealth Resource Center and presentations on data use and strategies to address rural opioid issues. If you were unable to attend the Region D meeting and would like to learn more about Project ECHO, check out the presentation here. The meeting included a unique tour of the mobile telehealth unit from Oklahoma State University. All meeting presentations can be found on the NOSORH website. Thank you to the Oklahoma State Office of Rural Health for hosting!
Corie Kaiser is the Director of the Oklahoma Office of Rural Health. She joined the Office of Rural Health in 2005. In that time, she has maintained the office’s community engagement programs as well as coordinated and maintained quality and performance improvement programs to assist critical access hospitals. She is a member of the National Rural Health Association and serves on the board of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. Corie is a native rural Oklahoman and currently lives in Edmond, OK with her husband and two sons.
What is the most important thing you are working on right now?
As of July 1, Oklahoma now has a new QIO as a result of the restructuring. We now have to work with the Texas QIO. We need to form new partnerships again and figure out everyone’s role. In addition, we are working to implement Phase 3 of MBQIP for 34 CAHs. We are working with another school that has a Pharmacy school attached to it for pharmacy students to review orders for Phase 3. This is an exciting prospect in some very challenging times.
What inspires you and excites you most about working for a SORH?
I grew up in a small, rural town and still have family who live there. My grandma taught me to be a true servant. I love helping people and the work we do at the SORH really allows me to help “my own” people throughout the state. We really have the flexibility to take our programs where we want and to make the best of our program dollars. We always have the future in mind and are always trying to make things better.
What is one characteristic that you believe every SORH leader should possess?
I believe you always need to be willing to ask for help. I encourage the hospitals to do this too. We may not always have the answers, but we can find someone who does. I have learned to say “I don’t know, let me get back with you,” and then I always make sure to get back to them.
The Oklahoma State Office of Rural Health (SORH) has recognized the importance of evaluating the success of grant initiatives, so much so, that they decided to hire an internal evaluator to analyze grant program outcomes. Oklahoma’s SORH Program Evaluator, Pete Walton, plays an important role in the SORH’s efforts toward accountability. Being on staff allows Walton to have better access to those working on program activities as well as records, history, and important information that may not be available to an external consultant.
According to Walton, it is important to set up effective program measures while writing the grant. He believes it is critical to sit down with all staff and discuss not only the goals of the grant guidance, but also the goals of the office. Taking both priorities into consideration, he then helps staff develop goals and objectives that are meaningful. His next priority is to establish an effective mechanism to capture data to show the impact of activities. He feels it is important to set up an easy system to gather data so that all staff are able to easily input data. This legwork completed prior to the grant beginning sets up the grant program for success. After the grant program begins, data collection can begin immediately since the system is already established. It is then Walton’s responsibility to ensure that everyone is submitting data on grant activities including both internal staff and external contractors. Walton meets regularly with those working on grant activities to review data to make sure activities are on track to achieve outcomes and make course corrections as necessary.
Corie Kaiser, director of Oklahoma’s SORH, says, “Hiring an internal evaluator has been one of our best decisions.” She continues, “Pete has been a great addition to our office and has really helped us to collect data and stories to show outcomes.”
Walton has developed a helpful evaluation template that can be found on NOSORH’s website. As SORHs prepare for the approaching grant writing season, it may be helpful to review this template to make sure grant program goals and objectives are in line with grant and office goals and objectives.
Does your SORH have a “Promising Practice”? We’re interested in the innovative, effective and valuable work that SORHs are doing. Contact Kassie Clarke, Branch editor, at email@example.com to set up a short email or phone interview in which you can tell your story.
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