by George Thompson, Reporter and Farmer
Sanford Webster Medical Center was among 23 rural hospitals in South Dakota to share in $278,037 in federal funding for projects to improve patient access, reduce medication errors, reduce hospital readmissions and improve operations.
Sanford will get $11,331 through the federal Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility program funding which is delegated by the state Department of Health.
Local hospital administrator Dave Rogers said, “These grants can be used for anything to improve patient safety. This may not seem like a lot of money, but it allows us to do some extra projects that we wouldn’t have done otherwise.”
Rogers said the grant will be used to pay for a pharmacy bar coder which reduces the chances of a patient getting the wrong type of medicine. The code scanner reads the bar code on a patient’s wrist band and double checks with the computer system to make sure the healthcare provider is administering the right thing.
Over the last 12 years, rural hospitals in South Dakota have received more than $4,078,000 in direct awards through the program.
Hospitals must be Medicare-certified as critical access to be eligible for the funds. Critical access hospitals receive a higher Medicare reimbursement rate and are eligible for federal funding for improvement projects. There are currently 38 critical access hospitals in South Dakota.
The funding helps rural hospitals make direct, positive impacts on patient care and health outcomes, noted an official from the Avera Platte Health Center, one of the facilities receiving funds.
Sustaining essential healthcare services in rural and underserved areas is a key objective of the Department of Health’s 2020 Initiative.