VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue September 8, 2014

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


Simple ways everyone can act
to protect groundwater!




Call for Nominations!

All Virginia Rural Health Association members and member organizations are invited to submit nominations for the 2014 Virginia Rural Health Association Awards.  Nominees are not required to be members of the association.  Commitment and service to the advancement of rural health in Virginia may be in the form of direct provision of health care services, governmental or educational advocacy, activities or research that improves the health of communities or populations. 
Awards Categories:

Lawmaker of the Year
Lawmaker of the Year is designed to give special recognition to an elected official at any level who has demonstrated support for improving health in rural Virginia.
The Charles Crowder, Jr. Award
This award is given annually by the Virginia Rural Health Association to recognize outstanding individual commitment and service to the advancement of rural health in Virginia.
The Best Practices in Rural Health Award
This award is given annually by the Virginia Rural Health Association to recognize a program or institution that exemplifies commitment and service to the advancement of rural health in Virginia.
Awards Presentation: Honorees will be recognized during the Awards Luncheon on December 11, 2014 at the VRHA Conference in Staunton, Virginia.

Download the nomination formNomination Deadline: November 7, 2014. 

You can also read about past honorees

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Members in the News

By Brett Moyer - Rural Health Telcom

[VRHA member] New River Valley Community Services (NRVCS) based in Blacksburg, Virginia has reached an agreement with Rural Health Telecom to upgrade remote clinic connectivity and provide disaster recovery with $3.2 million from the Universal Service Fund (USF).

“Being the provider of choice for the communities we serve means that New River Valley Community Services must continually seek innovative ways to maximize our available resources, while providing the highest level of quality services to our consumers,” said NRVCS Community Relations Specialist Mike Wade. “Our partnership with Rural Health Telecom will address many of the connectivity issues we’ve experienced at our remote sites, enabling our staff to do their jobs more efficiently and ultimately giving them more time to spend caring for the individuals who turn to us for help.”

Rural Health Telecom CEO Tim Koxlien said that New River Valley Community Services’ challenges are common in rural America.  “Rural health care providers struggle to afford bandwidth speed necessary to reap the benefits of emerging technologies that improve quality and access to care,” he said.  “Another concern is ensuring data continuity and connectivity when disaster strikes.  These challenges are intensified by a deficit of healthcare workers and the IT support personnel required to maintain the technology.”

Read the full press release.

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More Members in the News

By Rachael Smith - News Advance

[VRHA member] Blue Ridge Medical Center in Nelson County has been awarded $250,000 in Affordable Care Act funding to build a patient-education center. The new center will be added in the lower level of the Arrington-based medical facility and will provide patient education in areas such as weight management, nutrition, behavioral health and prenatal care.

Read the full article, and related story about BRMC's director, Peggy Whitehead.

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Virginia News

Narrowing the Gap

By Trevor Baratko - Louden Times

State Del. Tom Rust will propose a bill called the Virginia Health Care Independence Act when the House of Delegates convenes next month to discuss Medicaid expansion.

Rust, a Republican, told the Times-Mirror during an interview his legislation is the only Medicaid-related proposal he's aware of that will be debated during a special two-day session beginning Sept. 18. The primary intent of the bill, he said, is to return to Virginians millions of tax dollars the state sends to Washington.

The veteran lawmaker who represents portions of Loudoun and Fairfax counties said his proposal, which involves using the new federal funds to incentivize the uninsured to sign up for employer-provided care or purchase private insurance with vouchers, wouldn't cover the 400,000 figure, but roughly 260,000 people.

Read the full article.

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Giving Up Billions

By Tony Pugh - McClatchy Washington Bureau
If the 23 states that have rejected expanding Medicaid under the 2010 health care law continue to do so for the next eight years, they’ll pay $152 billion to extend the program in other states _ while receiving nothing in return.

Virginia forgoes $5.2 million in federal funding every day that state lawmakers don’t agree to expand Medicaid, Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam said. By his account, that’s well over a billion dollars already.

Read the full article, a policy brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and related editorial from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

TAKE ACTION:  Sign the Virginia Consumer Voices petition to encourage the General Assembly to close the coverage gap!  Click here for more information on this important issue.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/09/02/238367_states-that-decline-to-expand.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/09/02/238367_states-that-decline-to-expand.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

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Thyroid Disorders in Appalachia

By UVa-Wise

Maddison Couch, a junior at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, spent last summer researching thyroid disorders in the Central Appalachia after both her grandmother and mother were diagnosed with thyroid-related syndromes. 

What her research revealed was that the region is a “hotspot” for many thyroid disorders, and it appears a naturally occurring compound could be the cause. Couch, under the guidance of Professor Wally Smith, has found that a compound that is naturally found in coal deposits could seep into water sources, especially private wells, and could trigger the thyroid disorders.  

According to Couch, the region has a higher than average rate for hypo- and hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer, and goiter (enlarged thyroid). She said the high incidence of goiter in Appalachia is of particular interest since the region has a sufficient level of iodine and presently lacks any known environmental cause.  

Read the full article.

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National News

NRHA Honored

The National Rural Health Association has received 2 honors recently:

1) NRHA has been selected for the 2014 Kansas City Award in the Health & Welfare category by the Kansas City Award Program. Each year, the Kansas City Award Program identifies companies believed to have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Kansas City area a great place to live, work and play. Read the full press release.

2) NRHA CEO Alan Morgan again made Modern Healthcare’s annual ranking of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare. “It’s great to see that readers of Modern Healthcare magazine recognize the efforts of NRHA,” Morgan says. “This is a reflection of our organization’s advocacy, communications and policy work. It speaks well of NRHA’s tag line: ‘Your voice. Louder.’” Modern Healthcare’s list honors individuals in health care who are deemed by their peers and an expert panel to be the most influential individuals in the industry, in terms of leadership and impact.


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Responding to Doc Shortage

By Mike Cronin - MinnPost

Many later-in-life rural Minnesota patients might live in remote regions where daily access to physicians and nurse practitioners doesn’t exist. The health-care provider landscape of Greater Minnesota is one where primary-care physicians are becoming older and fewer, while their patients also are older but growing in number, said Mark Schoenbaum, director of the Minnesota Department of Health's Office of Rural Health and Primary Care. Medical schools, health-care systems and legislators alike know of the problems and are doing their best to solve them.

The Minnesota Hospital Association released a report last month warning that the state faces a shortfall of about 850 primary-care physicians by 2024 due, in part, to “a lack of annual growth” in state residency or clinical training positions. “Funding and the number of ‘slots’ for residency programs have been frozen since 1996,” according to the study.

‚ÄčThe report also found that up to 11 percent of the state’s 9,076 primary-care providers lived in small rural or isolated rural areas, but 17 percent (about 918,000) of Minnesota’s roughly 5.4 million 2012 population lived there.

Read the full article.

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Filling the Mental Health Gap 

By Michael Ollove - Stateline

Mental health therapists most often leave issues of faith outside their office doors, even for patients who are religious. But one class of counselors believes a nonsectarian model doesn’t serve everyone equally well.

“On a feeling level, people want a safe, respectful place, to ponder the tons of questions that come begging in hard times,” said Glenn Williams, a pastoral counselor in Kentucky and chair of the Kentucky Association of Pastoral Counselors. “Where is God?  Why did this happen?  Is it karma, sowing-reaping, happenstance?  What purpose does this suffering serve?”  

Kentucky recently became the sixth state (joining Arkansas, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Tennessee) to allow pastoral counselors to become licensed mental health counselors. As of now, Kentucky only has 20 licensed pastoral counselors. But the hope is that licensing will increase those numbers by making it easier for pastoral counselors to receive health insurance reimbursement and by adding luster to the field. 

Read the full article.

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Rural In Character

USDA announced that it will postpone implementation of any changes to eligibility for Rural Housing programs---based on the "Rural In Character" criteria---until October 1, 2015. "Rural in Character" is one of four criteria established in Section 520 of the Housing Act to determine eligibility for Rural Housing programs. Other criteria include population size, the availability of mortgage credit, and location in a metro county for certain communities.

USDA has published a helpful guide to answer some important questions that you may have on the impact of this decision and what it means for your community. The guide also provides information on how the Department will make its "rural in character" determinations, including providing a secondary review, initial notice to at-risk communities, a 90-day comment period, 30-days final notice of any changes in eligibility, and issuing an Administrative Notice to ensure consistent implementation.

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Mark Your Calendar

For more information about these and other events, visit the VRHA Calendar

September 9: Building and Marketing a Telemedicine Program - webinar
September 13: REVIVE! Opioid Overdose Prevention - Cedar Bluff
September 22: Addressing the future of health care: Moving from Policy to Implementation - Bristol, TN
September 30-October 1: Rural Health Clinic Conference - Kansas City, MO
October 1-3: Critical Access Hospital Conference - Kansas City, MO
November 14: Virginia Oral Health Summit - Richmond
December 11 & 12: Virginia Rural Health Association Annual Conference - Staunton‚Äč

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Health Equity Resource Tool Kit
The tool kit helps public health practitioners take a systematic approach to program planning by using a health equity focus. It provides a six-step process for planning, implementing, and evaluating strategies to address obesity disparities.

Medicare Learning Network® Suite of Products & Resources for Rural Health Providers
This educational tool is designed to provide education on the publications and resources for the unique information needs of the rural health community. It includes links to MLN rural health publications, including several in text-only format and lists of helpful websites and Regional Office Rural Health Coordinators.

CMS MLN Connects™ Weekly Provider eNews

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Funding Opportunities

Rural Health Care Services Outreach 
Deadline: Nov 14, 2014 
Rural Health Care Services Outreach Grant Program supports projects that demonstrate effective models of outreach and service delivery in rural communities. Proposed projects should have an outcomes-oriented approach that will enhance and sustain the delivery of effective healthcare in rural communities. While approaches should be innovative, projects must use evidence-based or "promising practices" models. Funding can be used to meet a broad range of healthcare needs from health promotion and disease prevention to expanding oral and mental health services to case management for rural HIV patients. 

Ruby J. Craddock Memorial Trust
Deadline: Ongoing
Funding to organizations that support the care and well-being of animals, adolescent intervention programs, epilepsy education and research, and programs for the home care of the terminally ill. 

Tom's of Maine 50 States for Good
The Tom's of Maine 50 States for Good initiative supports grassroots organizations throughout the country working to do good in their communities. In 2014, the program will provide grants of $10,000 each to a grassroots nonprofit organization in every state and the District of Columbia. The grants must be applied directly to current or future community events or projects and cannot go toward staff salaries or administrative costs. Eligible organizations must be registered nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations and have operating budgets under $2 million. The deadline for submitting online nominations is 5pm ET September 30, 2014.

Incentive Grants for Practitioners, Students, and Community Practice Residents
Application deadline: Sep 29, 2014
Offers pharmacists seed money to implement or support an existing patient care service within their pharmacy practice.

Verizon Foundation Grants
Application deadline: Oct 10, 2014
Awards grants to nonprofit organizations that use innovate technologies to reduce health disparities for women, children, and seniors. Also funds STEM education and energy projects.

Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program
Application deadline: Oct 14, 2014
Grants to support community-based child health projects that improve the health status of mothers, infants, children, and adolescents by increasing their access to health services.

Students to Service Loan Repayment Program
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Students to Service Loan Repayment Program (S2S LRP) provides up to $120,000 to medical students (MD and DO) in their last year of school in return for a commitment to provide primary health care full time for at least 3 years ($60,000 for at least 6 years half time) at an approved NHSC site in a  Health Professional Shortage Area of greatest need.  Applications will open in September.



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