Organization Newsletter

November 2015

In this issue...

  1. Address Update Reminder
  2. State Office of Rural Health:  Rural Stroke Program
  3. Northwest MedStar Receives Full
    Reaccreditation by CAMTS
  4. New Providers Team Up with COHE
    Community of Eastern Washington
  5. Long Journey To Recovery
  6. Calling all WRHC's, RHC's, FQHC's, CAH's not ready for Medicare Savings Programs
  7. 2016 NW Regional Rural Health Conference
  8. HIPAA Security Rule Policies and Procedures


Welcome to the
November 2015 issue of the Washington Rural Health Association e-Newsletter.
Inside this issue you will find news and information from the new 2015-2016 President and board of directors, members, and community partners from across the state of Washington. 

If you would like to submit your own story, please click here.

The WRHA e-newsletter is a publication of Washington Rural Health Association, a not-for-profit association composed of individual and organization members who share a common interest in rural health. This e-newsletter seeks to disseminate news and information of interest to rural health professionals and stakeholders to help establish a state and national network of rural health care advocates.

WRHA Members

WRHA members include administrators, educators, students, researchers, government agencies and workers, physicians, hospitals, clinics, migrant and community clinics, public health departments, insurers, professional associations and educational institutions. If you are interested in joining or renewing your membership with WRHA click here.




Submitted by Kris Sterling
[email protected]

**Please note:  Effective 9/30/15, transition of the WRHA management included a new PO Box address and phone number.  This contact information has been updated in several locations on our website, as well as directly on the internal invoices created when renewing a membership or sponsorship.  Please ensure your internal AP systems have the correct address for mailing payments to the WRHA.  Thank you for updating your records!!

P.O. Box 882
Spokane, WA  99210

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Rural Stroke Program

Submitted by Kim Kelley, Coverdell Stroke Program Coordinator
[email protected]

Rural Pacific county part of new program to prevent strokes and improve stroke care
From the second a stroke occurs, the clock is ticking to reduce the damage that can occur when too much time passes before treatment is started. Stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in Washington and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in Washington and the nation.
The Department of Health recently received a $3.75 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to:
•    educate people on how to reduce their stroke risk;
•    encourage people to call 9-1-1 if they or someone they know is experiencing signs or symptoms of a stroke;
•    work with emergency medical services, hospitals, rehabilitation in multiple settings, and primary care providers to improve the quality of health care provided to stroke patients and ultimately, how well they recover after having a stroke.

The grant provides $750,000 a year to develop a comprehensive program to support this work through June 2020, and develop a plan for long-term, sustainable funding to continue stroke prevention work, reduce major disabilities after stroke and promote effective treatment statewide.
The program will be piloted in Pierce county and rural Pacific county during the first year. It will be expanded to other counties in subsequent years. A rural county was specifically chosen because rural communities face unique challenges in providing stroke care. There are often longer EMS transport times, a higher percentage of volunteer EMS personnel, long distances to higher levels of care if needed, and fewer options for transportation and rehabilitation.  
 “Reacting quickly is critical when people have stroke symptoms,” said state Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “The faster patients get treatment, the better the outcome tends to be. This grant will help increase awareness and improve the recovery of stroke patients.”
Signs and symptoms of stroke:
•    sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body;
•    sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding;
•    sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes;
•    sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination;
•    sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
 An easy-to-remember test for stroke is F.A.S.T.
F = Face: Is one side drooping down?
A = Arm: Can the person raise both arms, or is one arm weak?
S = Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing?
T = Time: Time is critical, call 9-1-1 immediately! And note Time symptoms started or the Time the patient was last normal.
Minutes can make a difference when dealing with a stroke, and it’s important to call 911 right away. Emergency responders can start treatment while transporting a patient and call ahead so the hospital is ready to treat a stroke. If health care providers can diagnose and start treatment for a stroke within three hours of the symptoms, the person has a much greater chance of reducing its lasting effects. However, most strokes in Washington aren’t recognized fast enough.
The good news is that a stroke is largely preventable. Those at highest risk of stroke are people with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high blood cholesterol, tobacco use or obesity. Other risk factors are physical inactivity, excessive alcohol use and drug use. Although most people who experience stroke are in their 60s, 70s, 80s or older, stroke can occur at any age.
For more information, contact Kim Kelley, Coverdell Stroke Program Coordinator, [email protected], 360-236-2807.
The Department of Health website ( is your source for a healthy dose of information. Also, find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Northwest MedStar Receives Full Reaccreditation by CAMTS

Submitted by:  Meagan Pierluissi
[email protected] 

Northwest MedStar continues its presence as the region's premier critical care transport service through its three-year reaccreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transportation Systems (CAMTS). NW MedStar achieves full accreditation for its three modes of transport: rotor-wing aircraft, fixed-wing aircraft and ground critical care ambulances. Since 1996, NW MedStar has consecutively met and exceeded the standards for accreditation set by CAMTS. As CAMTS states, this "substantial compliance" recognizes NW MedStar as part of an "elite group of medical transport service programs throughout the nation." "Our goal of delivering the highest quality of patient care while providing transport services to Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana is shown through this reaccreditation," said Matt Albright, director for NW MedStar. "We are honored by CAMTS for recognizing our efforts to uphold our mission as a trusted medical transport service." CAMTS is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality and safety of medical transport services around the world. To receive accreditation, a medical transport service must be in significant compliance with the CAMTS accreditation standards and demonstrate a high level of overall quality in service. By participating in the voluntary accreditation process, service organizations can verify their adherence to quality accreditation standards to themselves, their peers, medical professionals and the general public. "NW MedStar is an integral part of immediate, compassionate and safe critical care transport services for a multi-state region," said Nancy Vorhees, chief administrative officer for Inland Northwest Health Services, parent organization for NW MedStar. "I could not be prouder of our dedicated teams working to demonstrate the best in quality patient care." To learn more about the services provided by NW MedStar, please visit:

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New Providers Team Up with COHE Community of Eastern Washington

Submitted by:  Meagan Pierluissi
[email protected]

Stevens County injured workers get back to work with COHE assistance The Center of Occupational Health & Education (COHE) Community of Eastern Washington, a public-private partnership between St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute and Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), recently added new providers from Stevens County to their network, helping injured workers return to work safely and when medically ready. Providence Mount Carmel Hospital emergency department in Colville, Wash. and clinical providers for Providence Northeast Washington Medical Group are now working with COHE health service coordinators to improve injured worker outcomes and streamline worker's compensation processes. "Emergency departments and clinics are where workers immediately go after an injury," said Ben Doornink, program director for COHE Community of Eastern Washington. "Our health service coordinators work with clinicians on industry best practices with the goal of getting injured workers back to health and back to work." In 2014, nearly 1,300 providers at over 400 clinics and 35 hospital emergency departments participated in eastern Washington's COHE, enabling $35 million in savings annually in medical and disability costs. "The benefits for health care providers, employers and employees connecting with COHE are tremendous for creating a healthy and effective workforce," said Ron Rehn, chief executive for Providence Health Care's Stevens County Ministries. "With more than 300 work-related injuries treated by Providence annually, COHE helps us remain good stewards of our economy while putting the health and welfare of our friends, family and neighbors at the forefront." "We continue have to a great collaboration with the medical community throughout the region," Doornink said. "Our goal of increasing COHE services to rural populations is achieved through these partnerships-ensuring access for high quality care and creating a healthy and effective workforce." For more information about COHE Community of Eastern Washington, visit


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 A Long Journey to Recovery After Head Injury - The Story of Kaleb Southwick

Submitted by:  Meagan Pierluissi
[email protected]

For any parent or family member to know their child is in pain is nothing short of agonizing. When Jennifer Southwick of Potlatch, Idaho heard from a neighbor that her 12-year-old son, Kaleb, and 10-year-old daughter, Ryleigh, had been in a 4-wheeler accident along with a friend, her worst nightmare came true. "It was just like he's asked 4,000 times before, 'can I ride the 4-wheeler?'," Jennifer says about her son, Kaleb. She reminded the kids to grab their helmets and off they went. The young riders hit a tree. Kaleb's sister, Ryleigh, says he protected her from the impact by moving in front of her when he realized the wreck was inevitable. Even with a helmet on, he received a dire impact on the right side of his head. Kaleb's long journey to his stay at St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute began when first responders quickly arrived and told Jennifer Northwest MedStar needed to be dispatched. Kaleb was flown to the nearest hospital, and then to Spokane's Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital for neurosurgery. "After surgery, the neurosurgeon told us that his outcome was grave, and this is the worst type of head trauma and injury possible," Jennifer says. As the region's only Level I Trauma Rehabilitation hospital for adults and pediatrics, St. Luke's case managers began checking in on Kaleb's progress and preparing the family for his transition to inpatient rehabilitative care at St. Luke's. Once at St. Luke's, Kaleb received multiple services like physical, occupational, recreational and speech therapy. But, Jennifer says, recreational was by far his favorite. "He adored his therapist, Sara; she made him feel like a 12-year-old boy and made him work really hard without him realizing it." "We continuously worked on mobility and leisure interests," says Sara Dunbar, Kaleb's primary recreational therapist at St. Luke's. "He loved riding our adaptive trike around. As he became stronger and his activity tolerance increased, he would race it around. His parents then purchased a trike-style bicycle at a local bike shop so he could continue riding at home. We were able to adapt the bike so he could control it independently." "All of his therapists were amazing," Jennifer says. "He gave 100 percent and then some." With the help of a cane and leg brace, Kaleb is able to walk after his two-month stay at St. Luke's. "He still struggles with talking, but he's the goofy and silly Kaleb that he always was," Jennifer says. "He's our miracle." To learn more about the ways St. Luke's helps patients like Kaleb enjoy life to the fullest, please visit: 


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Calling all Washington Rural Health Centers, Federally Qualified Health Centers, Critical Access Hospitals, Rural Fee-for-Service Clinics that are not ready for Medicare Shared Savings Programs.

Submitted by:  Sue Deitz
[email protected]
(208) 610-0937

The National Rural Accountable Care Consortium (Consortium) is a non-profit organization that supports rural healthcare transformation. The primary aim of The Consortium is rural practice transformation to improve care, reduce unnecessary healthcare costs, and improve patient satisfaction, all while also improving the financial performance and sustainability of rural health systems. In September of 2015, the Consortium received a four-year cooperative agreement for up to $31 million from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative (TCPI). With this funding, the Consortium has established a Practice Transformation Network (PTN) that will assist more than 500 rural communities in preparing for and participating in the new value-based payment models.

Through our agreement with CMS, the Consortium will provide technical assistance, education, and support for providers in the following areas:

1) Quality Reporting & Optimization: Setting up ambulatory quality reporting and optimization for RHCs, FQHCs, CAHs, and fee-for-service clinics.
2) Billable Care Coordination Programs: Setting up sustainable care coordination for rural patients (includes training, certifying, mentoring care coordinators, and setting up Medicare billing for care coordination).
3) Nurse-Advice Hotline: Providing access to a 24-hour Nurse Advice Hotline.
4) Physician Engagement: Educating and engaging physicians and staff on new value- based payment models and policy changes.
5) Data Analytics: Providing data analytics and integration with Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to support transformation efforts.
6) PCMH: Qualifying for certification as a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH).
7) Patient Satisfaction: Real-time patient satisfaction surveys and a single-use tablet.

Participants are required to provide an in-house care coordinator and attend training and pre-defined meetings with key staff, physicians, and CEO's. Through active participation in our PTN program, participants will gain the skills and knowledge that will allow them to move into the shared savings program of their choice, which may include an Accountable Care Organization (ACO), Medicare Advantage Plan, private-payer programs, or new emerging models from CMS.

To apply, visit:

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2016 Northwest Rural Health Conference

Co-Submitted by:  Ian Norland, Conference Manager, &  Pat Justice, Dept. of Health
[email protected][email protected]

The Northwest Rural Health Conference in March has a long history, 2016 will mark the 29th year. Planning has been underway to change the 2016 conference in several significant ways. First, the Rural Health Clinic Association (RHCAW) will be joining the conference rather than holding their own.  This is accomplished by running the first day in tracks, which allow the Critical Access Hospitals to preserve what has been their focal day, and also give the RCHAW a forum where they can design curriculum optimally relevant to their membership. The Department of Health has successfully worked with the planning committee to launch a third track for Rural Emergency Medical Services (EMS), bringing new members of the rural health system to the conference. The plenaries (general sessions with all attendees) on the first day will be designed to hold relevance to all audiences. The second day, which is largely booked by a call for abstracts, (an open invitation for potential presenters to summarize their idea for a session) will also seek to pull in abstracts with topics relevant to rural EMS, as well as all the traditional partners.

With the closure of Eastern Washington Area Health Education Center (EWAHEC) at WSU, a new contract was established with WSU Conference Services to manage the event. We also warmly welcome our new partners, EWAHEC, a new program at Eastern Washington University.  The new EWAHEC Director Krista Loney is participating in planning the event.  Jodi Perlmutter, CEO of Western Washington Area Health Education Center is the Chair of the 2016 conference. The planning committee has wide, diverse representation.

Finally, we have left the Red Lion for the Spokane Convention Center and adjoining Doubletree Hotel, a venue that can accommodate the growth of the conference and also offer a larger space for vendors, more conducive to vendor-participant interaction.

Please hold the dates of March 15-17, 2016 and join us for a transformative conference experience focused on health and health care systems in rural communities. A pre-conference session on Monday, March 14 will offer Critical Access Hospitals a workshop on infection control with Qualis Health, sponsored by the Department of Health.

Northwest Rural Health Conference is seeking sponsors and exhibitors for NWRHC 2016!
March 15-17 at the Spokane Convention Center!!

We have exhibition space for up to 65 booths and have some spaces still available.

Please download our Invitation to Sponsor and Exhibit HERE.

The Northwest Rural Health Conference combines the interests and traditions of the Rural Health Conference, the Critical Access Hospitals Conference and Rural Health Clinics Association of Washington Conference to forge a new identity as the premier regional rural health conference.

The Northwest Rural Health Conference represents the single most targeted opportunity to reach the rural health community with your organization's message, products, services, and education outreach efforts. We welcome exhibitors and sponsors and look forward to being known as the source for trends in the rural health care in the Northwest.

Northwest Rural Health Conference offers a variety of sponsorship and exhibitor levels to accommodate your organization's desired level of involvement:

Benefactor(s)    $10,000+
Gold Level Sponsor    $5,000
Silver Level Sponsor    $3,500
Bronze Level Sponsor    $2,500
Lunch/Break Sponsor    $1,500
Exhibitor    $650
Non-profit Exhibitor    $450

Please download our Invitation to Sponsor and Exhibit HERE.


If you have questions about NWRHC 2016 please contacts us at
[email protected]

 ***For Lodging (book by Feb 13th!):  DOUBLETREE HOTEL ROOM BLOCK

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HIPAA Security Rule Policies and Procedures


Submitted by:  Alan Davis, Proteus Consulting
[email protected]

HIPAA policies and procedures (PnP) may not be the most exciting thing to develop or read about, but did you know that §164.316(a) requires reasonable and appropriate policies and procedures be implemented to comply with this standard (the Security Rule)?  PnP are not a "paperwork drill" nor are they optional; rather, they are a company's means to ensure that their team fully understands how to best safeguard patient information. In the case of an OCR audit or spillage, the PnP are crucial to the organization's defense.  Policies provide "intent" and communicate the importance of a standard or safeguard.  Procedures provide the intent "follow up" and should be written as a standard operating procedure that employees can train and operate from. Our guidance to any BA or CE working to comply with HIPAA is to organize a set of PnP that covers all Security Rule standards and implementation specifications.  Each Security Rule element does not need an individual PnP and the Security Rule provides a 'Flexibility of Approach'.  A CE or BA may take into account their size, complexity, capabilities, technical infrastructure, a security measure's cost, and the probability and criticality to electronic protected health information (ePHI).  PnP should address these flexibility parameters and establish "reasonable diligence".  PnP need to be written, but can be electronically stored.  PnP are required to be retained for six years and previous versions may be considered during legal action(s).  Additionally, PnP are both required to be made available to those people expected to implement the procedures, and reviewed and updated periodically (or during changes to the ePHI environment or to operations).  Create a plan that ensures all PnP are reviewed at least annually; an organization that has consolidated their PnP into 12 documents can plan to cover one per month.  Few people relish paperwork, but PnP are a cornerstone to any HIPAA program.

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 Thank you to our sponsors!