In September 2019, the Kentucky Office of Rural Health (KORH) was awarded a three-year, $750,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to improve out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest survival rates among residents of rural counties served by the state’s 28 designated critical access hospitals.
The funding — which is provided through the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program — will enable Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies across the state to participate in the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES), a national database that collects cardiac arrest data from EMS services and hospitals in order to track performance over time and measure the quality of patient care. Communities can enter their local data, generate reports and compare their performance to other local, state and national statistics. Only two states that border Kentucky — Illinois and Ohio — are current statewide subscribers; Louisville is a subscriber at the community level.
In addition, the grant will support KORH-led public health efforts to improve responses to sudden cardiac arrest incidents in Kentucky’s rural communities by increasing CPR readiness and raising awareness about the access to and availability of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). The chances of surviving an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest are significantly improved when, prior to the arrival of trained first responders, bystanders perform CPR and defibrillation.