Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  August 24, 2015

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities

Healthy Appalachia

Newsletter available





Deadline Approaching!

2015 VRHA Awards - Nomination Deadline: September 4

All Virginia Rural Health Association members and member organizations are invited to submit nominations for the 2015 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.
The Ken Studer Friend of the Association Award
This award is given to recognize a program, institution or individual that has advocated for or aided the Association in support of the Association’s mission.
GIF logo
VRHA Annual Conference
October 13 & 14, 2015
Staunton, VA

Click the logo for details!

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Members in the News

By the Hampshire Review

Valley Health System has been named to the 2015 list of the country's most wired hospitals and health systems, recognizing how the system has integrated information technology to improve quality care and patient safety and lower health care costs.

The 17th annual HealthCare's Most Wired survey and benchmarking study was released in July by the American Hospital Association's Health Forum and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). It is a leading industry barometer measuring IT adoption among hospitals nationwide. The survey of more than 741 participants, representing more than 2,213 hospitals, examined how organizations are leveraging IT to improve all aspects of patient care.

Valley Health System includes VRHA members Page Memorial Hospital, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital and Warren Memorial Hospital.

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Virginia News

Learning from Kentucky

By Steve Beshear - Richmond Times-Dispatch

Critics of Medicaid expansion in Virginia who reference Kentucky’s experience with federal health care reform should beware: Our success undercuts your whole opposition. Having proved from the beginning that health care reform is both the right thing and the smart thing do, Kentucky has become the poster child for why states should expand Medicaid.

The core tenet of health care reform is helping families and saving lives. Not vague political theory, but helping people. That’s what we’re doing in Kentucky. It’s a Christian thing. Kentuckians’ collective health has long been among the worst in the nation, ranking at the bottom in almost every health category. That’s had a negative impact on our quality of life, workforce, economy and state government finances.

Read the full editorial and related stories from the Augusta Free Press, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Pilot

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Flex Excellence

From the Office of the Commissioner

Congratulations to the Virginia Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant (Flex) Program for being awarded a Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Program (MBQIP) Certificate of Excellence June 23 by the federal Office of Rural Health Policy. The award was announced during the "Pathways to Value: 2015 Flex Program Reverse Site Visit" in Bethesda, Maryland.

The award recognizes the dedication to provide quality care on MBQIP inpatient measures demonstrated in 2014 by Virginia Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs). “Pathways to Value” was a two-day long event that served as an opportunity for state Flex Program grantees to convene and share information about providing assistance to CAHs as they become top performers in the new value-based reimbursement system. The Virginia Flex Program is in the Virginia State
Office of Rural Health in the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity.

Well done!

 - State Health Commissioner, Marissa Levine, MD, MPH

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Close to Home

By Danielle King - Daily Yonder

“I’m bothering no one but myself,” said 52-year-old eastern Kentuckian Joseph Cook. At least that’s how he felt in his younger days. Twenty-five years later, sitting on the wrong side of the safety glass at the Letcher County jail, he sees things differently. It’s his third trip to jail on drug charges.

“I feel responsible because when my son was 15, he found my OxyContin, which started my son’s addiction to opiates,” Cook said. His son now suffers from liver failure caused by the Hepatitis C virus, which he contracted using a contaminated needle to inject drugs. 

A needle exchange program could have helped his son avoid the life-threatening disease, Cook said. Dirty needles are the likely cause of an increase in new cases of Hepatitis C and HIV in rural places like southern Indiana’s Scott County earlier this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked drug injection and prescription opioid abuse to Hepatitis C outbreaks in four eastern states, including Kentucky.

While needle exchanges could help slow the spread of disease, the programs can be controversial. Part of that may be due to how people perceive IV drug users – as pariahs, the lowest of the low. Cook doesn’t fit the stereotype. He worked as a coal miner for 29 years, earning up to $85,000 annually. But most of that went to purchase drugs.

Read the full article.

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National News

Action Alert

By Erin Mahn - National Rural Health Association

The National Rural Health Association encourages you, and all rural health leaders across the country, to contact their member of Congress and urge them to cosponsor HR 3225, the Save Rural Hospitals Act. Members of Congress are home in their districts for the next two weeks, so now is the time to reach out to them. 

HR 3225 will stop the flood of rural hospital closures by ending Medicare cuts to rural hospital and eliminating burdensome regulatory requirements. The bipartisan bill also offers a path forward for rural hospitals that may still continue to struggle by allowing them to transform into an innovative new payment model that fits the unique delivery needs of a rural community.

This is urgent. Fifty-six rural hospitals have closed, and 283 additional hospitals on the brink of closure. NRHA asks you to visit the district office, attend town hall meetings and invite your member of Congress to tour your rural facilities. Explain to them how important your hospital is to the patients you serve and the rural economy. Don’t wait. HR 3225 will eliminate millions in Medicare dollars that have been cut from your hospital. America’s rural safety net hospitals needs this bill passed now.

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Technology from Tragedy

By Kate Menzies - Rural Assistance Center

For Finger Lakes Community Health (FLCH), a rural Federally Qualified Health Center, a telehealth program was a solution inspired by tragedy. In 2004, one of FLCH’s RNs was traveling to a Migrant Head Start site to provide services to children, when she was fatally struck by another car. Two years later, an FLCH community health worker suffered brain damage from being hit head-on by another vehicle after he had just transported a patient to a specialty care appointment. Both of these incidents occurred when providers were traveling between FLCH sites. Something had to be done to prevent future fatalities.

FLCH decided to make better use of their staff’s time and reduce the liability insurance expense of providers by creating the Finger Lakes Telehealth Network (FLTN). “Telehealth was kind of a no brainer,” said Mary Zelazny, CEO of FLCH. “The return on investment was as great as the reimbursement potential.”

Read the full article.

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Competition Improves Choices

By Pauline Bartolone - Kaiser Health News

People who live in rural Northern California will see more choice and competition in the health insurance marketplace next year, giving consumers a better chance of finding a plan — and a doctor — that can meet their needs.

The changes, unveiled last week by the state’s Affordable Care Act marketplace Covered California, will now allow some consumers to cross state lines for care. That means Californians living near the Oregon or Nevada borders can get subsidies to buy plans that pay for routine care in those states, something that previously was allowed only in emergencies.

In addition, all 22 counties that had areas with only one choice of insurer in 2015 and 2014 will now have at least three insurers selling plans. 

Northern California customers may notice a jump in their premium costs next year, however. Region-wide, they will have a 10.6 percent increase over this year, while the statewide average increase is 4 percent.

Read the full article.

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Losing OB

By Alexa Rodriguez - 41WMGT

8 labor and delivery units in rural parts of Georgia have closed in the past 3 years. Pregnant women have to drive to other cities and OBGYNs are losing money. One Sandersville doctor wanted to retire in 3 years, but that may not happen.

"Since they shut down OB, my practice is down," said Dr. Mohan Papudesu, the only doctor at The Women's Health Care Center in Sandersville. The practice isn't seeing as many patients as last year. "Once you stop OB, you lose almost 70% of business," explained Dr. Papudesu.

The Washington County Regional Medical Center shut down its labor and delivery unit in 2014.
Washington County isn't the only one. The Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society says Burke Medial Center, Chestatee Regional Hospital, Cook Medical Center, Appling Health Care System, Smith Northview Hospital, Emanuel Medical Center, and Barrow Regional Medical Center have closed obstetrical units since 2012.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

August 25: Reimbursement 101 for Rural Health Care - webinar
September 8-10: National Rural Assembly - Washington, DC
September 29-30: Rural Health Clinic Conference - Kansas City, MO
September 30-October 2: Critical Access Hospital Conference - Kansas City, MO
October 13-14: VRHA Annual Conference - Staunton
October 15: REVIVE! Training of Trainers - Staunton
December 3: TCI Policy Summit

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Rural Hunger and Access to Healthy Food A nutritious diet is important for maintaining good health, but accessing fresh and affordable food can be a challenge for some rural residents. This RAC topic guide provides information on how to address food security issues in your community, including funding and assistance programs, model programs, strategies, and more. 

PTSD Resources 
The mental health professional shortage in rural areas concerns the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health system, as one in every five veterans return from war with a serious mental health issue(s). To help increase knowledge, the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Consultation Program is available to any provider who treats veterans. National Center for PTSD experts answer questions and provide consultation at no charge. For more information, contact or 866-948-7880.

Finding Statistics and Data Related to Rural Health
This guide will help you locate and fairly and accurately use statistics and data in order to:

  • Understand rural health needs and rural/urban disparities,
  • Communicate rural health needs, and
  • Inform decision-making related to service delivery and policy 

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Funding Opportunities

For funding opportunities without a specific deadline, please visit the VRHA Resources page

Commonwealth Health Research Board
Concept Paper Deadline: September 17, 2015
Financial support for research efforts having the potential of maximizing human health benefits for the citizens of the Commonwealth. Research efforts eligible for support by the Board shall include traditional medical and biomedical research relating to the causes and cures of diseases, as well as research related to health services and the delivery of health care.

Healthy Communities Action Teams for Obesity Prevention Grants
Deadline: Oct. 19, 2015
Funding to improve healthful nutrition and physical activity to prevent and reduce childhood obesity in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Road Runners Club of America: Kids Run the Nation Fund
Deadline: October 1, 2015
The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is dedicated to supporting the growth of grassroots running clubs, training programs, and running events while promoting the common interests of runners throughout the United States. The Kids Run the Nation Fund, an initiative of the RRCA, supports nonprofit organizations and schools in the U.S. that are interested in implementing or currently have a youth running program. Grants of $500 to $1,000 are provided to running clubs and other nonprofit organizations such as parent booster clubs, PTAs, etc. Elementary and middle schools that provide organized after-school running programs are also eligible to apply. Since the goal of the grant program is to have kids running at least once a week for multiple weeks, funded running programs should offer more than just one-time events. 

Wrigley Company Foundation Community Service Grants
Due: Oct 1, 2015
Award ceiling: $5,000
The ADHA Institute for Oral Health / Wrigley Company Foundation are pleased to offer the members of the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) the opportunity to apply for community service grants leading up to National Dental Hygiene Month.

Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiving Legacy Awards
Application deadline: Sep 18, 2015
Offers a monetary award to programs or projects that focus on supporting family or informal caregivers of adults with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, including projects that focus on rural or low-income communities.

Substance Abuse Service Expansion
Application deadline: Sep 28, 2015
Supplemental funds to improve and expand substance abuse services at existing Health Centers, with a focus on Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT) in opioid use disorders.
Sponsor: Bureau of Primary Health Care 

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Blacksburg, VA 24060

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