BVHC receives $63,346 Quality Improvement Grant from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

ARLINGTON — The newly renovated Battenkill Valley Health Center (BVHC) is one of only 11 health centers in the state to receive a Health Center Quality Improvement Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Health Center is the only recipient of the grant in Bennington County, with $63,346 awarded for BVHC's high levels of quality performance in 2016. Nationally, nearly $105 million has been awarded to 1,333 health centers across the U.S. for quality improvement.

"Americans deserve a healthcare system that's affordable, accessible, of the highest quality, with ample choices, driven by world-leading innovations, and responsive to the needs of the individual patient," said U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price in a press release from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA.) "Supporting health centers across the country helps to achieve that mission."

The grant was given as part of National Health Center Week, without a required application, and came as a surprise for the staff at BVHC.

"It was unexpected, which is often the case with these types of grants," said BVHC's CEO Grace Gilbert-Davis, who received notification of the award in her e-mail inbox over lunch. "They're always appreciated, but we earn them. We always earn grant dollars."

"This is a recognition that health centers across the country and state receive when they reach certain targets," said BVHC's Chief Medical Officer Anje Van Berckelaer, MD. "We're very grateful to have received it."

Health centers that have been awarded the grant, like BVHC, are expected to use the funds to further improve their services in regards to quality, efficiency, and effectiveness according to HRSA.

"The way that this is typically used is to improve quality," said Van Berckelaer. "What we're looking at right now is opportunities to improve health record reporting capabilities, ways to improve work flow, and inputting the data in a way that shows our progress."

According to Van Berckelaer, the first step will be to improve BVHC's reporting capability. Next comes developing a better workflow for data entry.

"The quality improvements that we're talking about are by and large preventative services," said Van Berckelaer. "So are we conducting pap tests at the right time on the right women; are we doing colon cancer screening at the right intervals; are we counseling the right patients on wait and tobacco use? That's what we're really looking at."

The Health Center also hopes to use funds to explore a potential internship program to further BVHC's goals of enhancing the health care workforce in the area, building interest in community health centers, and meeting quality standards.

"Getting the potential for having an intern who is interested in learning about health professions meets a number of goals for BVHC," said Van Berckelaer. "There are always more work than we have bodies, so we are exploring the possibility of developing an internship for High School or College level pre-health profession students that may be interested in doing some quality improvement work."

For the Health Center, which has undergone extensive renovations in the past year including the addition of a dental clinic, the grant represents recognition of their work to improve access to health care in the area.

"We're very grateful, and we congratulate other community health centers who also received the award," said Van Berckelaer. "We pride ourselves in providing high quality health care, so it's good to be recognized for that."

"I am very proud of the staff that made this happen; we are all about quality of care, and so our quality programs have to be better than exemplary," said Gilbert-Davis. "The fact that we got the recognition through this funding demonstrates to me that no one's perfect, but we're pretty good."

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.


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