What it’s Like to Have a CORH in Your Corner

The principle of “meeting hospitals where they are” is central to everything the Center for Optimizing Rural Health (CORH) does to respond to rural hospitals’ unique needs.

That’s why in the second year of the Vulnerable Rural Hospital Assistance Program, CORH created a system that provides each hospital in the program with a dedicated case manager who checks in monthly and becomes intimately familiar with the hospital’s specific challenges. Case managers develop a relationship with their hospitals and can fully immerse themselves in a hospital and rural community’s unique attributes and opportunities. These personal relationships mimic life in a rural community where everyone knows each other. Hospital participants don’t just talk to a nameless operator, they call a case manager who knows them by name.

CORH’s team of case managers have a wide range of experience—from pharmacists to nurses to project managers—which means they can team up to ensure hospitals receive valuable expertise at all times. Case managers also share notes, ideas and solutions with each other so hospitals get the benefit of the entire team’s expertise. CORH’s Project Director attends all case manager and hospital meetings, which allows for the identification of common challenges or areas of interest between hospitals.

As a new CAH administrator, the resources provided by the CORH were extremely helpful and a great learning tool. The monthly calls and ECHO sessions were very beneficial, and all CORH team members were, and still are, very responsive.

The relationships between case managers and their hospitals—and the needs of each hospital—influences all of CORH’s educational programming.

For example, when several case managers identified that their hospitals were struggling with leadership turnover, CORH convened a group virtual meeting with experts who had been hospital CEOs. This gave hospitals a chance to ask the speakers questions, hear stories and solutions from fellow leaders, and understand that they were not alone. Hospitals repeatedly express that these kinds of calls give them a chance to network with other hospitals, and that is one of the top value-adds of being a CORH hospital.

Additionally, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, many hospitals expressed that they were overwhelmed and inundated with information. CORH created a new COVID-19 resource page on its website to give hospitals a one-stop-shop for curated, up-to-date information.

Finally, all of the ECHO sessions, which are virtual “clinics” with outside providers and experts, stem directly from hospital requests, as do most webinars and courses.

The CORH program is responsive and constantly shifting to meet rural hospitals’ needs. The case manager program in the Vulnerable Rural Hospital Assistance Program is just another example of the “meeting hospitals where they are” philosophy.