Stratis Health Announces National Virtual Quality Improvement Mentors for Critical Access Hospitals

Sanilac County, Mich. - Stratis Health announced twelve critical access hospital (CAH) staff who will serve for two years as national Virtual Quality Improvement Mentors through an initiative that broadly transfers knowledge from leading CAH quality improvement staff to others across the country. The initiative is organized through Rural Quality Improvement Technical Assistance (RQITA), a program of Stratis Health supported by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP).

Jenifer Monzo, RN, BAS, CPHRM, Director of Quality and Risk Management at McKenzie Health System, was selected as one of the national Virtual Quality Improvement Mentors. These twelve outstanding mentors were chosen from a pool of candidates across the country who were nominated by their respective state Flex programs as quality improvement leaders. They each successfully report and use data to support quality improvement activities in their small, rural hospitals. They represent the diversity of CAHs across the nation, with varying rural locations, service lines, and patient volumes, which average 4.16 to 15 patients per day and 2,322 to 13,681 emergency room visits annually.

“Jenifer’s leadership in ensuring quality care for every patient at McKenzie Health System goes above and beyond,” said McKenzie Health System President and CEO Steve Barnett. “We are proud that her dedication is being recognized on a national level and know she will be an outstanding mentor to others across the country.”

“I truly enjoy the opportunity to impact quality care both locally and nationally and look forward to connecting with other leaders across the industry to positively impact the quality of rural health care,” Monzo added.

“Critical access hospital” is a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) designation given to eligible rural hospitals, with 25 beds or less, to reduce the financial vulnerability and improve access to health care by keeping essential services in rural communities.

“Our first Virtual Quality Improvement Mentor cohort shared so many notable examples of how they successfully advanced quality in their critical access hospitals,” said Janelle Shearer, Stratis Health program manager. “We are excited to build on that success with this new group of QI leaders.”

Of the 1,353 CAHs across the U.S., more than 1,330 were participating in FORHP’s Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) at the end of 2020.

The new Virtual Quality Improvement Mentors are:

  • Gloria Barth, Harrison County Hospital, Corydon, IN
  • Caryn Bommersbach, Carris Health – Redwood, Redwood Falls, MN
  • Katherine Bryant, Covington County Hospital, Collins, MS
  • Cara Cruz, Carson Valley Medical Center, Gardnerville, NV
  • Marilyn Denno, Community Memorial Hospital, Cloquet, MN
  • Stacey Karvoski, Wallowa Memorial Hospital, Enterprise, OR
  • Jenifer Monzo, McKenzie Health System, Sandusky, MI
  • Elly Shaw, Knoxville Hospital & Clinics, Knoxville, IA
  • Tammy Suchy, TriCounty Health Care, Wadena, MN
  • Katrina “Kitty” Strowbridge, Clark Fork Valley Hospital, Plains, MT
  • Tammy Sudtelgte, Floyd Valley Healthcare, LeMars, IA
  • Linda Webb, Pulaski Memorial Hospital, Winamac, IN

The Virtual Quality Improvement Mentors will add to the examples and advice of their predecessors on addressing common quality improvement challenges that occur in CAHs. RQITA will capture these strategies, tips, and ideas to disseminate them broadly to others serving in CAH quality roles, including through the RQITA newsletter MBQIP Monthly and the Quality Time: Sharing PIE (performance improvement experience) recorded conversation series.