This is the TASC Program's monthly newsletter with announcements, resources, and educational opportunities.
March 2021
Rural Route
TASC Introduction
Hello everyone,

Happy Spring! We hope everyone has a great start to the new season.

Thank you to everyone who submitted proposals for the upcoming 2021 Flex Program Virtual Reverse Site Visit (RSV) last month. We have had some great meetings with our wonderful planning committee and are excited about how this event is shaping up. We look forward to sharing more information on the event scheduled for July 20-22, 2021 soon.

In addition to a new look, this month's Rural Route has many new opportunities and resources. Be sure to check out Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC) updates section for a new Learning Collaborative opportunity, and there are also a lot of Upcoming Events to be aware of.

I appreciate you taking some time to read Rural Route. If you have any questions or need assistance, please reach out to me or TASC.

Andy Naslund
Program Coordinator
Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) Updates
Flex Program Update by Tori Leach, Flex Program Coordinator
Dear Flex Program Coordinators,

I hope spring has sprung in your respective states. We are in the peak bloom season of the DC-Maryland-Virginia cherry blossoms. It’s my favorite time of year!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to collect and write up the ventilator distribution experiences from your rural hospitals. These stories are a great way to share the impact of the dissemination efforts that you were all a part of.

The major programmatic update is that your FY 2021 Non-Competing Continuation (NCC) Progress Report is now available and due back in the Electronic Handbook system (EHBs) on Friday, May 14th. Please check the TASC Website for the updated guidance and materials needed to complete this report.

An addition to this year’s NCC is the inclusion of Attachment #3 Flex Quality Improvement (QI) Initiative proposal. There is specific guidance related to this proposal, please read the instructions carefully.

As always, please reach out to your FORHP Flex Project Officer with any questions or concerns about your NCC Progress Report.

Many thanks,


CAH Regulatory Update

Continue reading CAH Regulatory Updates (Flex Forum login required - contact TASC for details)
Flex Welcomes and Farewells
This month, we welcome Anna Walter and Nancy Joyner from North Dakota! Welcome to Flex, Anna and Nancy!
We also bid a fond farewell to David Deutsch of West Virginia. We wish you well David!
Please keep your Flex staff contact information current by emailing Andy Naslund and completing the State Flex Program Contact Information Form whenever there are staffing changes in your office.
Save the Date: FMT's COVID-19 Response in CAHs Webinar
The Flex Monitoring Team (FMT) invites you to join them for a webinar presenting their findings from a survey of CAH CEOs in fall 2020. This study assessed the capacity of CAHs to respond to the first seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic in several areas: finance, federal waivers and regulatory flexibilities, patient treatment, workforce, and partnerships. In the webinar, the FMT will describe some of the key findings from the study and their implications.

The webinar will be held on April 19, 2021 at 3:00 PM ET/2:00 PM CT and is free to attend. Please register here for access. 
Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC) Updates
NCC Submission Review

With the release of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Flex Program Non-Competing Continuation (NCC) Progress Report Instructions, we would like to remind you that TASC is available to review one component of your cooperative agreement progress report prior to your final submission (examples: work plan, narrative, budget, etc.). If you would like assistance, please choose one section of your proposal for TASC to review. Please submit your request to by April 30, 2021 and allow us five business days to review. TASC will respond with comments and suggestions, but we are unable to re-write content for you. We’re happy to also talk through with you the suggestions and comments via phone.

Please see our original email regarding the NCC review that includes various resources to support your Flex Program Cooperative Agreement Progress Report.
Facilitation Skills Learning Collaborative Round 2!

Based on feedback from state Flex Programs, the FORHP and TASC recognize that there is a need for education focused on facilitation practices.

As a result, TASC will be hosting a second round of the Facilitation Skills Learning Collaborative. This learning collaborative series will once again feature in-depth discussions and practice opportunities related to facilitation styles for group conversations. The aim for the learning collaborative is that it will enhance your ability to facilitate focused conversations and brainstorming sessions with your hospitals, partners, internal staff, and other stakeholders.

This learning collaborative will be led by our subject matter expert HueLife – an organization specialized in facilitation, leadership, strategic planning, and implementation.

By participating in the Learning Collaborative, participants will be able to:
  • Learn core facilitation values and principles in the development of an impactful and flexible facilitation style
  • Review concepts around virtual brainstorming and collective and integrated thinking
  • Develop and apply a facilitated conversation and a virtual brainstorming design alongside your peers
  • Reflect on best practices and discuss next steps for facilitation improvement
Expectations to participate in the Learning Collaborative include:
  • Active participation in all six virtual sessions and
  • Completing homework outside of class including designing facilitated conversations and virtual brainstorming sessions
  • Participate in both 3-month and 6-month Recommendation Adoption Progress (RAP) webinars with TASC and your peers to discuss the progress on your skills as well as identify best practices, lessons learned, measurable outcomes and next steps
For this second iteration, the Learning Collaborative will consist of six (6) sessions for a total of 20 hours of instruction over 60 days. The Learning Collaborative will begin May 21, 2021 and end July 8, 2021. Below are the scheduled meeting times, all in Central Time:
  • Friday, May 21 -- 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 27 -- 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 2 – 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Friday, June 25 -- 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, June 29 – 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 8 – 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Meetings will be held virtually and active participation in the virtual discussions is expected of all participants as these will not be presentation-focused meetings. If you know that you will miss more than one of the above dates, we ask that you do not apply.

Participating Flex Coordinators/Flex staff will apply the training and education gained through the learning collaborative to develop a state Flex Program action plan to implement activities, services, and education for their state. These action plans may include supporting activities already existing in Flex Program work plans and will not have to consist of new or costly activities. There will also be three and six-month Recommendation Adoption Progress (RAP) calls for participants to discuss their progress on their action plans.

Participation is limited to allow for conversation and practice activities. If your state Flex Program has a staff member interested in participating in the Facilitation Skills Learning Collaborative, please fill out the Facilitation Skills Learning Collaborative Application by April 21, 2021. Please limit the application to one member per state Flex Program and for members who did not participate in the Fall round.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or if you’d like additional information. We look forward to working with you on this great opportunity!
HCAHPS Vendor Directory Update

We are pleased to announce that an updated version of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Overview: Vendor Directory is now available. Please share this resource with your rural health facilities.

This resource provides information on HCAHPS including the benefits and challenges to implementing a HCAHPS survey process with small rural hospitals, specifically critical access hospitals (CAHs). The resource identifies certified HCAHPS vendors that have opted to have their services listed in the directory, including a description of their experience working with small rural hospitals. This particular resource is beneficial to both the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program (SHIP) and the Flex Program’s Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) work to support hospital HCAHPS initiatives.

Also, we understand there is an increasing interest in Emergency Department (ED CAHPS) vendors. Many of the vendors in this directory could potentially be able to administer that survey as well and this update includes a list of possible of vendors for ED CAHPS.

This resource is supported by FORHP and coordinated by the TASC, a program of the National Rural Health Resource Center.
Upcoming Events in April

Hosted by SHIP TA Team -- Thursday, April 8, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Central Time

Hosted by TASC -- Tuesday, April 13, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. Central Time

Hosted by RQITA -- Tuesday, April 13, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Central Time

Hosted by RQITA -- Thursday, April 15, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Central Time

Flex VKG hosted by TASC -- Friday, April 16, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Central Time

Hosted by FMT -- Monday, April 19, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Central Time.

Part of the Telehealth webinar series hosted by TASC -- Monday, April 26, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Central Time.

Flex VKG hosted by TASC -- Friday, April 30, 2021 from 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Central Time.
Questions? Contact Andy Naslund at or (218) 216-7030
MBQIP Updates
Updated Resources

Please send your MBQIP questions to TASC will ensure your question reaches the appropriate person.

Webinars Recordings and Resources
Rural Health Leadership Radio was launched to support rural health leaders in sharing stories and information about best practices and lessons learned. Check out their latest podcasts now! 
Contact Us!
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This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB1RH24206, Information Services to Rural Hospital Flexibility Program Grantees, $1,009,120 (0% financed with nongovernmental sources). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.​​