Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  May 23, 2016

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


May Newsletter






Congratulations to our new student representatives to the VRHA Board of Directors!

Nazmine Sohi and Shannen McGinley are both students at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Virginia Campus (VCOM).

And thanks to out going student reps Blake Lowe, Raven Weaver, and Laura Nelson - your service is appreciated!

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Members in the News

By Stacey Hairston - Franklin News Post

Franklin County High School’s Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) class got a first-hand look recently at the equipment on board Carilion’s Lifeguard 10, following a related lesson.  The helicopter landed on the pad at [VRHA member] Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital, so the students could get a feel for a career on the life-saving aircraft. Students also learned helicopter safety.

The experience was part of the curriculum of the class, which involves technical classroom instruction, as well as field work, according to instructor Eric Newman with Franklin County Public Safety.

Read the full article.

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More Members in the News

From the Virginia Community Healthcare Association

 HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced over $260 million in funding to 290 health centers in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico for facility renovation, expansion, or construction. Health centers will use this funding to increase their patient capacity and to provide additional comprehensive primary and preventive health services to medically underserved populations.

Eight of Virginia’s Health Centers are recipients of this funding which means that more patients in their communities will have access to high quality, low cost primary care, dental care, behavioral health and pharmacy services.

VRHA recipients are Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems, Inc., and Tri-Area Community Health.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Mental Health Gap

By Massey Whorley - The Commonwealth Institute

State lawmakers haven’t gone as far as they should, or as far as some claimed, in the effort to help more people with serious mental illness get the help they need. Starting in July, an estimated 3,600 additional Virginians who struggle economically and suffer from serious mental illness will be able to get some treatment through the Governor’s Access Program (GAP). By devoting an additional $5.4 million with an equal federal match, lawmakers increased the eligibility level in this program for a single person to approximately $10,000, up from roughly $7,700. 

The trouble is the new, higher eligibility level that the General Assembly actually enacted in the law only goes up to 80 percent of the federal poverty line, not 100 percent. By only expanding coverage for mental health services to 80 percent of the federal poverty line lawmakers continue to leave people out in the cold. And by refusing to expand Medicaid, state lawmakers rejected a common-sense move that would have provided comprehensive medical coverage, including mental health treatment, for many more low-income uninsured Virginians and saved the state money. 

Read the full article.

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Sink or Swim

By Frances Hubbard - Daily Press

new website and app designed to help in the state's fight against prescription drug abuse was announced  by Gloucester's Emergency Management office. The "Sink or Swim" campaign was presented to the Governor's Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse in Richmond.

"This is a great tool folks can use for education and a place folks can turn for help," said state Del. Keith Hodges, R-Urbanna, who serves on the task force and has been one of the main backers of the campaign. "There are a lot of resources available and this pulls them all together in a one-stop shop."

Resources are available online at, 1-855-drugfree, or download the app on mobile device by searching "sink or swim" in your app store. Also, follow @DrugFreeVA on twitter or on Facebook.

Read the full article.


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Preventing Child Abuse

By Jeremiah Knupp - News Leader

As child abuse and neglect grows in the area, say some social workers, the response needs to also. And it needs to reach earlier into children’s lives.

One service offered by Family Connection, a center that works to train and educate families and child care providers, is the Healthy Families of the Blue Ridge program. The Healthy Families program is a home visitation service where family support workers will meet with new or expecting first-time parents to help educate them about child care and well-being. The coverage area includes Augusta County, and at-risk parents are welcome to apply for the free program.    
Read the full article.

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National News

Kids' Special Challenges

By Steven Reinberg - HealthDay Reporter

Sick children from rural areas in the United States have more complex medical problems and cost more to treat than urban or suburban kids, a new hospital study finds. Researchers who analyzed admissions at 41 children's hospitals found significant differences between city kids and their country counterparts. Rural children, for instance, were more likely to require readmission, tended to be from poorer homes and traveled five times as far, on average, for specialized health care.

But, this problem isn't new, said Dr. Mario Reyes, who's with Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, and wasn't involved in the study. Hospitals in poor rural areas are often ill-equipped to deal with complex medical problems in children, he said. So, the sickest kids need to go to specialized children's hospitals, Reyes said. "And they have to travel an average of 68 miles to get there," he added. For city and suburban kids, the average distance to a children's hospital was 12 miles, the study found. 

Read the full article and related article from Health Leaders Media.

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5-Star Hospitals

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been letting patients grade their hospital experiences, and those “patient experience scores” may give some insight into a hospital’s health outcomes, a new study suggests. The five-star rating system is based on patients’ answers to 27 questions about a recent hospital stay. Questions cover communication with nurses and doctors, the responsiveness of hospital staff, the hospital's cleanliness and quietness, pain management, communication about medicines, discharge information, and would they recommend the hospital.

Of the 3,000 hospitals, 125 had five stars, more than 2,000 had three or four stars, 623 had two stars, and 76 had only one star. Four and five-star hospitals tended to be small rural nonteaching hospitals in the Midwest. Five-star hospitals also readmitted less than 20 percent of patients over the next month, while other hospitals all readmitted at least that many.

No large hospitals had five stars, and more than half of the five-star facilities didn’t have an intensive care unit.

Read the full article.

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Aging in Place


What’s it like to grow old in rural America? Millie Goolsby is a retired nurse, so when she experienced chest pain five years ago, she recognized the signs of a potential heart attack. But her family didn’t call 911. The drive from her home to the hospital in Klamath Falls, Ore., requires at least half an hour.

“It takes a while for an ambulance to get here, and then you hope the ambulance can find you” on an unpaved country road, said Mrs. Goolsby, who is 83. Instead, her son-in-law drove her to the emergency room. (After three days in the hospital, she went home and resumed her two-mile-a-day walks with her dog.)

Through his 95th summer, Bill Kolacny was tending the tomato patch on the 400-acre Wyoming ranch where he and his wife, Beverly, had lived for 25 years. When he began to weaken from heart failure in December, all he wanted was to die in their log home on the Clarks Fork River. But the nearest hospice organization, in Red Lodge, Mont., isn’t licensed to care for patients in Wyoming. And the closest Wyoming hospice said it couldn’t afford to send staff members 60 miles to the Kolacny ranch.

Read the full article.

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Rural GME

By Lori Mihalich-Levin, Susan Banks and Allison M. Cohen - Lexology

In the face of rural physician shortages, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) unveiled a new tool on April 11 to help assess whether a rural hospital is currently a teaching hospital. Knowing whether a hospital is eligible to begin receiving Medicare funding for new programs is critical, given Medicare funding caps on existing teaching hospitals' ability to grow residency programs as well as rules permitting non-teaching hospitals to start training residents and begin receiving Medicare graduate medical education (GME) funding. The tool HRSA unveiled is meant to be used as a first step for the public to identify new potential rural residency training sites.

In addition to unveiling the new tool, HRSA also indicated that additional information would be forthcoming regarding the Rural Residency Planning and Development (RRPD) program, a grant program designed to cover planning and development costs for new rural primary care residency programs.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

June 9: 2016 Health Care Conference - Richmond
July 13-15: Rural Quality & Clinical Conference - Oakland, CA
September 20-21: Rural Health Clinic Conference - Kansas City, MO
September 21-23: Critical Access Hospital Conference - Kansas City, MO

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Rural Hospital Closures 
The North Carolina Rural Health Research Program recently compiled a list of the 25 states that have closed at least one rural hospital since 2010. The list includes the name of each facility.

Model Program: The Maryland Faith Community Health Network (MFCHN)
MFCHN aims to improve patient care coordination by uniting places of worship and healthcare systems. Trained hospital navigators work with congregational liaisons to ensure patients receive the best care during and after a hospital visit. 

Emergency Department Visits for Children and Young Adults With Diabetes, 2012
Reports on diabetes-related emergency department visits, which may be related to undetected or poorly controlled diabetes, among children and young adults aged 0-29 years. Includes data by location of patient residence, for urban and rural locations.

Rural Communities in Crisis: Strategies to Address the Opioid Crisis
An overview on the effects of the opioid and heroin crisis occurring in rural areas, and the challenges to rural healthcare organizations combating this issue. Identifies and discusses policy recommendations addressing the opioid and heroin crisis in rural communities, and in rural healthcare systems.

The Economic Impact of Rural Broadband
Provides an estimate of the direct and indirect economic activities of the rural broadband industry on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and their effect on other rural industries, including healthcare.

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Funding Opportunities

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

Roslyn S. Jaffe Awards
The Roslyn S. Jaffe Awards recognize everyday heroes who are making the world a better place for women and children, specifically in the areas of health, education, social reform, and esteem. 
Deadline: June 15

National Alliance for Grieving Children: Grief Reach
The goal of Grief Reach, administered by the National Alliance for Grieving Children with funding from the New York Life Foundation, is to provide support for children's bereavement programs in order to expand their reach to underserved youth populations. In 2016, Grief Reach will provide support through the following two programs: Community Expansion Grants, ranging from $15,000 to $100,000, fund program expansion to include bereaved children and teens not currently served by existing services. Capacity Building Grants of $10,000 help nonprofit organizations to secure the professional assistance necessary to enhance organizational capacity and address issues of organizational development and effectiveness.
The application cycle will close on July 11, 2016. 

American Academy of Pediatrics: Community Access to Child Health Program
The Community Access to Child Health (CATCH) Program, a national initiative of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is designed to improve access to healthcare by supporting pediatricians who are involved in community-based efforts to enhance the health of children. CATCH Planning and Implementation Grants of up to $10,000 are awarded to pediatricians and fellowship trainees to plan innovative community-based child health initiatives that will ensure all children have medical homes, are properly immunized, and have access to healthcare services not otherwise available in their community. Outreach must be to the community at large, not to practice or clinic patients only. (Grants of up to $2,000 are awarded to pediatric residents addressing the same issues.)
The application period will close on July 29, 2016. 

Community HealthCorps
Offers monetary sums for education or loan repayment in exchange for full-time service in a rural or underserved community. Community HealthCorps Members perform a variety of activities associated with health services and programs for patients and communities, often by functioning as community health workers.
Applications accepted on an ongoing basis 

Community Connect Grants
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the USDA, will administer more than $11,700,000 to provide broadband service in rural areas where it is slow or unavailable.  Eligible entities include state and local governments, federally-recognized tribes, non-profits and for-profit corporations.  Funds may be used to construct or acquire facilities, provide free service for entire communities, or set up a community center that provides online access.
Deadline June 17 

ideas42: Using Behavioral Science to Advance Community Health and Well-Being
ideas42 believes that communities throughout the country can improve the effectiveness of initiatives that encourage healthy behaviors, tackle social and economic challenges, and work to transform access to care by applying behavioral insights. Ideas42 is soliciting applications from U.S. communities who are taking on challenging problems in community health and well-being, and who are interested in learning how the field of behavioral science can be used to develop better solutions to these problems. Selected applicants will attend an intensive workshop on applying behavioral science to community health and well-being, and selected applicants from this group will partner with ideas42 to design and test behavioral interventions in their communities. Interested communities should designate an organization or consortium of organizations to submit the application on their behalf. Applications must be submitted by June 17, 2016. 

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