The Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (FLEX) Grant Program is made available through the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Center for Rural Health and the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP). The FLEX individual hospital awards are offered each year based on the needs and interests of the hospitals as well as national or state initiatives.

This year's FLEX program offered opportunities for hospitals to initiate new or improve current Outpatient Services, use Flex funds to improve financial operations or initiate revenue cycle improvements, fund projects to analyze hospital operations, invest in community-based projects to prevent and/or decrease the incidence of chronic disease in rural areas; or partner with their local EMS agencies to provide additional education to these programs.

The Flex Program is also providing support for a Fellowship Program specifically designed for upcoming Rural Health Leaders from the Illinois Critical Access Hospitals.  These Fellows meet twice a month during the program to delve into rural healthcare-specific topics as well as collaborating with an experienced healthcare mentor during the year.  These Fellows will finish a capstone project to improve their hospital as part of their studies.

The Flex Grant also provides educational opportunities to the Critical Access Hospital personnel.  A two-day billing, coding, and E/M training has been planned for this project year.  A rural health clinic workshop to improve RHC management and financial stability will take place this Spring.  The Flex Program is teaming up with the Illinois Hospital Association to provide an in-depth analysis of the hospitals' Pandemic Emergency Response during the past year and determine best practices from the experience.