I am here in Washington DC at the Rural Policy Institute put on by the National Rural Health Association. My administrative assistant laughed when I told her that at one time I dreamed of working in DC. She felt that although I would get the policy part, she has not known me to be politic. I will admit that I don’t feel compelled to keep my feelings to myself about other folks’ efforts, especially when I feel like the others are STUPID, but I don’t see how that would keep me out of politics. Instead, I get to go and meet with out delegation, thank them for passing the Affordable Care Act, and answer questions about the state of health care in rural Alabama in the most politic manner I can muster.

I did meet a very interesting person from Mississippi on the flight from Atlanta to DC. She is an administrator at North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville, Mississippi. On the map, Ruleville looks like the crossroads made famous in O Brother Where Art Thou where the group picked up Tommy Johnson. She told me they are moving towards electronic health records, have just opened a wellness center for all regardless of ability to pay, are looking to deliver dental services to 11 counties, and currently provide eye care for many Rulevillians allowing them to stay close to home. The North Sunflower  patient satisfaction is at 92%.

Many people say that if you come to a meeting such as this and bring home one thing to do to make things better, it was a good meeting. As the Affordable Care Act is now the law and the Alabama delegation is ground zero for the anti-earmark tsunami, I won’t be taking home any pork. I will get to hear Don Berwick discuss upcoming opportunities to deliver transformative change should the law remain intact. It is now up to the states to implement transformational changes within the infrastructure established within the Affordable Care Act. I hope I can bring back concrete ideas for Alabama to look at as we seek models to use for transforming care. From what I can see, North Sunflower might be a place to look to for such ideas.

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