University of Nebraska Medical Center

Drs. Kennel and Venema Share Falls Expertise with Iowa Critical Access and Small Rural Hospitals

Vicki Kennel, PhD, and Dawn Venema, PhD

For over a decade, the Collaboration and Proactive Teamwork Used to REduce (CAPTURE) Falls Program has existed to conduct research related to falls in hospitalized patients as well as provide quality improvement support to Nebraska Critical Access Hospitals.

CAPTURE Falls is currently led by Victoria Kennel, PhD, and Dawn Venema, PhD. Matt McManigal provides support to the program as a research technologist, and Mary Wood provides staff support. Former College of Allied Health Professions faculty members Katherine Jones, PhD, and Anne Skinner also served important roles in starting and growing the program.

Since 2012, CAPTURE Falls has supported 35 rural Nebraska hospitals, 33 of those being Critical Access Hospitals, with education and consultation related to fall risk reduction of hospitalized patients. The CAPTURE Falls team has also delivered over 40 invited or peer-reviewed presentations at regional, national, and international levels, and published six peer-reviewed manuscripts on the topic of falls. The CAPTURE Falls program includes a robust online roadmap where a number of educational resources and tools for fall risk reduction are freely available.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Office of Rural Health has funded CAPTURE Falls through the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (Flex) from January 2015-present. The Flex Program is provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to improve the quality of rural health care. Each State Office of Rural Health can apply for these funds, and then in turn funds projects specific to rural healthcare needs within their state.

Last fall, Wanda Hilton, EdD, CHES, the Rural Hospital Flex/SHIP (Small Rural HospitalImprovement Program) Coordinator from the Division of Public Health, Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, reached out to Drs. Kennel and Venema about collaborating with Iowa Critical Access Hospitals, using funding from the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program awarded to Iowa.

Dr. Hilton said, “I found out about the UNMC CAPTURE Falls program from my Flex Program Population Health contractor, Dr. David Palm, who is also faculty at UNMC and the former Flex/SHIP Coordinator at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Venema and Dr. Kennel currently lead this evidence-based program and made substantial strides in improving patient care through falls prevention with the Nebraska Flex Program and their CAHs.  Falls Prevention is an area of Patient Safety in our Flex Quality Improvement area that I’ve been hoping to provide technical assistance on. I’m confident that the success of CAPTURE Falls as shown through the years of work with the Nebraska Flex Program will be replicable here in Iowa.”

Conversations last fall launched a collaboration with Iowa, beginning with a series of six monthly webinars on a variety of topics related to fall risk reduction of hospitalized patients. Staff from 62 unique hospitals in Iowa have attended at least one of the four webinars delivered thus far. Following completion of the webinar series in July, Drs. Hilton, Kennel, and Venema will be exploring possibilities for continued collaboration.

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