The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center’s Rural and Community Health Institute (RCHI) recently received a grant of $104,000 from the Sid W. Richardson Foundation for support of a Patient Safety Program that addresses the quality and safety of patient care being delivered by rural hospitals. The grant funds are intended to cover staff support needed for carrying out the program’s goals and extending the program into additional rural communities in Texas.
RCHI’s Patient Safety Program has grown significantly over the past year and now encompasses three key service areas. These include a Physician Peer Review initiative, development of a Patient Safety Database, and Quality of Care and Patient Safety Consulting. The Institute has now established partnerships with 12 rural hospitals. Through peer review, these facilities are now monitoring and evaluating the appropriateness, quality and safety of care delivered by their physicians. Initial reports to the RCHI team indicate that participating hospitals are already seeing an improvement in both care and care processes.
The Richardson Foundation grant will fund staff support that will help RCHI bring its services to additional rural hospitals. Support staff will include:
A Peer Review Consultant, responsible for assisting the rural hospital in the preparing and leading numerous peer review specialty committees (in addition, this individual will assist by writing and communicating with facilities about their reports following committee meetings);
An Information Technology (IT) Field Technician, responsible for going onsite to rural hospitals to keep their quality and safety reporting information systems working and up-to-date (this individual will also help hospitals prepare data for submission to RCHI and clean the data as it enters the RCHI database); and
Medical Record Staffer(s), to ensure participating hospitals’ compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) by “blinding ” facility, physician, staff and hospital information in medical records, a process that can take up to 10 hours to blind a record completely (depending on the size of the medical record).
Dr. Nancy Dickey, president of the A&M Health Science Center and vice chancellor for health affairs for the A&M System, said, “The Texas A&M Health Science Center is delighted to be working with the Sid Richardson Foundation, a group with a long history of advancing education and health care in the state of Texas. Through their generous grant, RCHI will be able to reach more rural communities, more Texas residents, and more patient interactions.”
Regarding the assistance the Richardson Foundation grant will provide to RCHI’s work, RCHI Director Dr. Josie Williams said: “Without information technology, the ability to analyze and improve care is almost impossible. This grant will allow us to support several of these hospitals, as they work to improve their information technology and to evaluate their patient care in a timely and appropriate manner. I believe it will serve as a step toward a necessary lifeline to information technology for hospitals and their patients.”
The Sid W. Richardson Foundation provides grants to nonprofit organizations in Texas to help them fulfill their missions. Grants are made primarily in education, healthcare, human services, and the arts. Sid W. Richardson (1891-1959) established the foundation in 1947.

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