North Dakota Quality Forum Audience

Over 150 healthcare professionals, stakeholders and community service providers attended the 2018 Quality Forum hosted by Quality Health Associates of North Dakota (QHA) in late August in Bismarck, ND, under the theme “Healthy People, Healthy Communities.” Presenters and participants focused on community systems and factors that affect health and quality of life and changes that can be made to improve the health of North Dakota communities.

Barb FischerThe opening session, “One Day in November,” chronicled patient Barb Fisher’s story of recovery following an adverse event that occurred during a routine medical procedure. Fisher shared her experiences as she transferred to different healthcare settings. She stated, “I stand before you today as a result of caring professionals who helped me along my journey to this point in my recovery.”

Andrew JagerAndrew Jager, MA, Senior Program Manager, from the American Hospital Association, Chicago, IL, directed participants to local data and the interactive exercise, “Building a Culture of Health: Potential Partner Worksheet,” to help them focus on “Moving the Needle on the Social Determinants of Health.” Jager stated, “We are seeing a paradigm shift in the healthcare field. As part of this shift, hospitals and health systems are transforming how they deliver care, engage consumers and improve the well-being of the communities they serve. For hospitals and health systems this means going outside the four walls and redefining the ‘H’ to foster healthy communities while also increasing access and affordability. The ‘H’s’ of the future are organizations that create health.”

Breakout sessions gave participants an opportunity to learn from successes of local partners and providers touching on the topics of integrating behavioral health into community healthcare, a rural community of care model to help older adults stay in their homes, antipsychotic reduction in nursing homes, the relationship between diabetes and hypertension and the status of core element implementation for antibiotic stewardship. Quality Improvement 101 and 102 training was also offered.

The “Gallery Walk of Success” featured nine exhibitors who shared success stories and services that built on the day’s theme of creating healthy people and communities.

Opioid PanelThe day wrapped up with a panel discussion “North Dakota’s Response to the Opioid Crisis: A Community Approach.” Panelists discussed implementation of community strategies that utilized funding received through grants. Mark Elhardt, RPh, Standing Rock Service Unit, Fort Yates, discussed Standing Rock’s efforts to address the opioid crisis in the Tribal Community including naloxone training, community education, medication take-back programs and alternative treatment for pain management. Michael Dulitz, MPH, NRP, Grand Forks Public Health, stated a focus of his work is to find ways to combat the stigma surrounding opioid use disorder (and substance use disorders in general) among healthcare workers, especially within hospital systems. Providing access to experts for rural communities through programs such as Project ECHO was discussed by Grant Lannoye, PA-C, Towner County Medical Center, Cando. He also described the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) provided to patients with addiction issues in his rural community. The North Dakota Department of Human Services followed the panel discussion with naloxone training and offered naloxone for those who received the training.

Naloxone signin

Forum attendees receive a naloxone supply after attending training on appropriate use.

“This year’s Quality Forum was a springboard for discussions within a wide variety of community providers and healthcare systems that defined ways we can work together to foster healthier communities in our state. We need to be innovative in our approach, especially in rural areas, and borrow strategies from others that have proven successful.” states Judy Beck, Great Plains QIN Quality Improvement Program Manager for North Dakota. “We look forward to hearing in the months to come how attendees have been able to replicate ideas they gleaned from this year’s Forum.”