VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue November 17, 2014

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


Newsletter now available






Livability Initiatives



The New River Valley recently completed a three-year planning process to create a future vision for the region called the New River Valley Livability Initiative.  This effort marks the first time the region incorporated community health into its planning and the results of including health among other traditional topics such as economic development, housing, transportation, natural resources and telecommunications were eye-opening!  The presentation will cover how community health was incorporated into the regional visioning process, who participated on the working group, how priority issues were selected and most importantly, how projects and programs are taking shape as a result!

Click the conference logo above for event details.

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Deadline Approaching!

The deadline for reduced registration fees for the 2014 VRHA Annual Conference will be coming up soon!  Registration fees for the full event is $215 for VRHA members and $275 for the general public until November 24th

Click here to register. Event registration fees include 2015 VRHA membership dues.

NOTE:  These prices will increase as we get closer to the conference.  Starting November 25th, the member rate will be $240; non-member $295. Get your registration in early and save! 

If you are a current VRHA member, you are eligible for a discounted rate.$125 for the full conference, $80 for Thursday only and $50 for Friday only.  

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Members in the News

From the Health Resources and Services Administration 

HRSA announced $51.3 million in Affordable Care Act funding to support 210 health centers in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to establish or expand behavioral health services for nearly 440,000 people nationwide.  Earlier this year, HHS awarded $54.5 million in Affordable Care Act funding for 223 other health centers to expand behavioral health services. Health centers use these new funds to hire new mental health professionals, add mental health and substance use disorder health services, and employ integrated models of primary care.

The Affordable Care Act expands mental health and substance use disorder benefits and federal parity protections for approximately 60 million Americans. HHS is also supporting health centers' efforts to integrate behavioral health services into primary care.

VRHA members who were awarded are:

  • Blue Ridge Medical Center
  • Central Virginia Health Services
  • Highland Medical Center

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Virginia News

Childrens' Coverage Stalled

By Dan Heyman - Public News Service 

A new report demonstrates efforts to connect more children to health care coverage seems to have stalled in Virginia, as well as across the nation.  
Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, is one of the authors of the study Children's Coverage at a Crossroads.

While more children have been gaining health insurance coverage over the last several years, Alker says five million children across the U.S. remain uninsured. In many states, including Virginia, progress appears to have stalled - possibly because states have focused on signing up more adults through the Affordable Care Act.

"The other finding is children in working families living on the brink of poverty are those that have the highest rate of 'uninsurance,' compared to other income groups," says Alker.

Slightly more than seven percent of children remain uninsured nationally last year, very close to the percentage from the year before. Just under 5.5 percent of Virginia children have no health insurance coverage.

Read the full article.

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Wagon Gets New Wheels

By Micah Smith - News Channel 11

It was the subject of a CBS 60 Minutes episode. But soon after that special, Wise Virginia's Health Wagon broke down and has been out of commission for several months. For 16 years the mobile unit traveled throughout the Appalachian Mountains providing health care to people in need.

The Health Wagon has started a new chapter with a new set of wheels. "We're unveiling of our new mobile unit that has been over a year and a half in the making and so we are getting ready to launch it out on the road," said Health Wagon Executive Director Teresa Gardner.

After 16 years on the road the old mobile unit was in pretty bad shape. "We have a new floor! Our other undercarriage was about rusted out and I know that because I about fell through it," said Health Wagon Clinical Director Paula Hill-Meade.

Read the full article.

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Lee Certificate of Need

By Kylie McGivern - News Channel 11

A major hurdle cleared in the road to reopening Lee County, Virginia's only hospital, with the state granting the Lee County Hospital Authority (LCHA) a "conditional approval" on its Certificate of Public Need Application.

This is big for Lee County - an essential step forward in opening a 25-bed "critical access" hospital after Wellmont Health System shut the doors to Lee Regional Medical Center in October 2013.

The "condition" to approval, issued on October 20th, was that the LCHA accept a requirement that the hospital would provide free services or reduced rates to certain qualifying patients.

Read the full article.

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National News

A Modest Proposal

By Spencer Hamons - Forbes

We have terrific healthcare across the United States—if you happen to live in one of the larger cities.  But rural healthcare is struggling. Twenty-four rural hospitals have closed across the USA since the beginning of 2013—more than the total number that closed in the previous 15 years

In Georgia alone, four of its 65 rural hospitals shuttered in the last two years, and 15 more may be closing in the upcoming year. Similarly, six rural hospitals closed in Alabama over the last 18 months, with an additional 22 facing financial shortfalls that may lead to closure. 
With more than 46 million Americans living in rural areas, this is a disturbing trend. It has the potential to affect the lives—potentially effect the deaths—of thousands of Americans each year. 

But hope isn’t lost for these communities. I believe two trends will allow us to maintain quality healthcare in even the most remote areas: the ubiquity of Internet-enabled technology and the recent push by giant retailers into the healthcare market.

Read the full article.

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Rural Primary Care Challenges

Christopher Cheney - HealthLeaders Media

Rural and economically disadvantaged areas of the country pose a daunting challenge to boosting primary care services, a recent UnitedHealth Group study has found. But there is no single pathway toward expanding access and capacity, it suggests.

"Approximately 50 million Americans live in areas with an under-supply of primary care physicians. Most of these areas are rural," says the report, "Advancing Primary Care Delivery: Practical, Proven, and Scalable Approaches."

But to improve primary care services in communities, increasing the number of physicians in the country will not be enough, the report concludes. Richard Migliori, MD, executive VP of medical affairs and chief medical officer of UnitedHealth Group, said in a statement: "This research shows the value of improving primary care capacity, not only in terms of improving patients' health but also in catching problems early and avoiding unnecessary and costly hospital services."

Read the full article.

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Practicing in Appalachia

By Huntington News Net

Every family medicine resident who graduated in June, 2014,from the family and community health residency program at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine will practice medicine in central Appalachia, the department’s chairman, Stephen Petrany, M.D., announced.

“Seven of the eight graduates (88%) are practicing in West Virginia,” Petrany said.  “Four (50%) of the graduates are practicing in federally qualified health centers (FQHC) in rural West Virginia.  The one who is not practicing in West Virginia will be practicing in rural North Carolina in an FQHC after completing a few months with the Indian Health Service in South Dakota.   We take seriously our school’s mission of educating a physician workforce for central Appalachia and this year’s graduating class of medical residents is a prime example of that commitment.”

W. Mitchel Shaver, M.D., residency director for the department, said historically Marshall Family Medicine has produced physicians to meet the unique needs of rural Appalachian populations. “Over the last 10 years we have completed 75 residents,” Shaver said.  “Fifty-seven of them, or about 76%, are practicing in West Virginia.  Sixty-six (88%) are practicing in the general Central Appalachia geographic area.”

Read the full article.

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Lights, camera, action!

SPECIAL NOTE:  A Virginia entry won this contest the first two years - let's keep that going!

The National Rural Health Association has again partnered with the Rural Assistance Center (RAC) for the third annual Rural Lens competition.  Photos will be accepted through Dec. 20 across three categories: community and people; landscape; and rural health, a new category intended to highlight rural care.
“We all know that rural America is the most beautiful place on earth with the most dedicated and hardworking people in America,” says Kristine Sande, RAC associate director and NRHA Communications Committee member. “There’s nothing like sharing rural health pictures across the nation from scenery, community outreach and the wonderful people who serve our rural communities.”
Modern Healthcare magazine recently published several Rural Lens photo submissions in its print issue featuring an article with comments from NRHA’s Brock Slabach.
NRHA Facebook fans will select their favorite photos in early 2015. The grand prize winner will receive an iPad Mini from the NRHA Partnership Program, and the winner in each category will have their image featured in Rural Roads.
Visit NRHA for contest rules.  

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Mark Your Calendar

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

November 20: How Teleneurology Affected Our Hospital - webinar
December 11 & 12: Virginia Rural Health Association Annual Conference - Staunton
February 3-5: Rural Health Policy Institute - Washington, DC
March 29-31: 
Shaping the Future of Healthcare through Innovation and Technology - White Sulphur Springs



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2014 Update of the Rural-Urban Chartbook
​Provides an update to information provided in Health, United States, 2001: With Urban and Rural Health Chartbook. Highlights current trends and disparities across different levels of metro- and nonmetropolitan counties including population characteristics; health-related behaviors and risk factors; mortality rates; healthcare access and use; and other health measures such as teen birth rates, tooth loss, and activity limitations due to chronic disease.

Rural Community Health Gateway
The Rural Community Health Gateway can help you build effective community health programs and improve services you offer. Resources and examples in this Gateway are chosen for effectiveness and adaptability and drawn from programs with a strong history of service and community success. By starting from approaches that are known to be effective, you can make the best use of limited funding and resources.

Planning for Sustainability
By thinking beyond the day-to-day activities and services to plan for sustainability early in the grant cycle, communities can better position their programs for long-term sustainability and leverage the investment of federal grant dollars to maintain successful programs that improve the health of rural Americans. The tools provided here are intended to help you consider the sustainability of programs that address community needs and to engage your partners and stakeholders in this planning process.

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Funding Opportunities

Environmental Justice Grants
EPA's Office of Environmental Justice announces the opening of its Request for Applications (RFA) for the 2015 Environmental Justice Small Grants (EJSG) Program. The EJSG Program provides funding for eligible applicants for projects that address local environmental and/or public health issues within an affected community. The EJSG Program is designed to help eligible non-profit organizations and Tribal communities understand and address exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks at the local level. This year's EJSG program will have a special emphasis on proposals supporting community-based preparedness and resilience efforts (community climate resiliency). In an effort to ensure that support reaches new areas, the Agency also is prioritizing funding to organizations that have not recently received an award under the EJSG Program. EPA anticipates awarding up to four grants per EPA region in amounts of up to $30,000 per award for a two-year project period. 

Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
The next NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program (LRP) Application Cycle is expected to open in January 2015. To expedite the application review process, potential applicants and facility administrators are encouraged to have the eligibility of their current facility location reviewed for participation in the NURSE Corps LRP. Potential applicants and facility administrators may submit their facility information to CSF_Request@hrsa.gov beginning November 6 through December 2, 2014. Notification of facility eligibility will be confirmed by December 31, 2014 via email. 

Sidney Stern Memorial Trust
Deadline: Rolling
Funding to provide support for nonprofit organizations, including for medical purposes. 

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