VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  August 14, 2017

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


Newsletter now available






State of Emergency

President Trump on Thursday declared the country’s opioid crisis a national emergency, saying the epidemic exceeded anything he had seen with other drugs in his lifetime. The scale of the crisis, which has been building for well over a decade, is such that a presidential declaration may not have much immediate impact. It should allow the administration to remove some bureaucratic barriers and waive some federal rules governing how states and localities respond to the drug epidemic.

On April 1, 2017, Virginia’s Medicaid program launched an enhanced substance use disorder treatment benefit - Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services (ARTS). The ARTS benefit provides treatment for those with substance use disorders across the state. The ARTS benefit expands access to a comprehensive continuum of addiction treatment services for all enrolled members in Medicaid, FAMIS, FAMIS MOMS and the Governor’s Access Plan (GAP) including expanded community-based addiction and recovery treatment services and coverage of inpatient detoxification and residential substance use disorder treatment.

Join Ke'Shawn 
Harper of DMAS at the Virginia Rural Providers Conference for a discussion about the opioid crisis in Virginia, what is being done, and what the best path is for the way forward in our rural communities.
October 25 & 26
South Boston, VA


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Members in the News

By Justin Faulconer - Nelson County Times

The congressional effort to overhaul the Affordable Care Act and its impact on Nelson County was front and center during a forum at the Nelson Heritage Center attended by about 60 people.

[VRHA member] Peggy Whitehead, panelist and retiring CEO of the Blue Ridge Medical Center, spoke on the impact the ACA has had on Nelson in recent years and what could be expected locally from proposed changes to the health care system.

Read the full article.

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More Members in the News

From the Rappahannock Record

[VRHA member] Bon Secours Rappahannock General Hospital recently installed an all purpose, dual detector nuclear imaging system, the GE Discovery NM630.

“This highly advanced unit gives healthcare providers the outstanding capability to deliver excellent care to their patients,” said RGH imaging manager Chris Shepperson. “With doses as low as half those of standard nuclear medicine scanning protocols and the potential for significantly less time on the table, this is truly top of the line imaging technology.”

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Narcan on its Way

By Kerri O'Brien - WRIC

A drug that saves lives will soon be available for free across the state.  Virginia is expanding a pilot program to battle the opioid epidemic. Up until now, only the health districts of Southwest Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley and Norfolk had Narcan available for free.

The Virginia Department of Health decided to provide the life-saving drug to health districts around the commonwealth as it discovered there are high-risk areas for opioid overdoses across the state touching every health district.

“We recognized we needed do something, not just ourselves but really a community-based effort so it’s not just the health department, but providing some sort of intervention so we can prevent some of these deaths,” says Christopher Gordon, Chief of Staff for Community Health Services with the Virginia Department of Health.

Read the full article.

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Narrowing the Scope

By Laurence Hammack = Roanoke Times

Virginia Sen. Creigh Deeds has narrowed the scope of a lawsuit in which he blames a breakdown in the state’s mental health system for the suicide of his son. At the request of Deed’s attorney, a judge in Bath County Circuit Court granted a non-suit that removes the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services from the $6 million wrongful death lawsuit.

Still remaining as defendants are the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board and one of its caseworkers — accused in the lawsuit of not working hard enough to place Deeds’ son in a psychiatric facility as his deteriorating mental health pushed him closer to a deadly end.

Read the full article.

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Digital Divide

By Michelle L. Mitchell - News Virginian

Adjit Pai considers providing broadband internet access to rural America, and all of America “the number one issue’’ for the Federal Communications Commission. Pai is not sitting in a sterile Washington office plotting strategy. This week, he is visiting mid-Atlantic and Appalachian cities to learn more about the need for broadband access to help with rural medical care, education and economic development.

He headed to Fishersville to observe the telemedicine program at [VRHA member] Augusta Health in Fishersville. Pai learned that Augusta Health doctors are able to assess stroke patients and lower the mortality rate through telemedicine.

Lisa Schwenk, director of public relations for Augusta Health, said Pai was briefed on the hospital’s telestroke program with the [VRHA member] University of Virginia, saw the telecommunications program the hospital has with local EMS providers and reviewed the program that allow health care workers to monitor home health patients remotely. He also learned about the hospital’s sepsis alert system, which alerts the hospital to patients developing sepsis. The program has helped lower patient mortality.

Read the full article.

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Infant Mortality

By Adam Beam - Lexington Herald Leader

Placing much of the blame on smoking, a study chronicling the ongoing health crisis in Appalachia has concluded that the 13-state region suffers from a growing disparity in infant mortality and life expectancy, two key indicators of "a nation's health and well-being."
The study, published in the August issue of Health Affairs, compared infant mortality and life expectancy rates in Appalachia with the rest of the United States between 1990 and 2013. It found while the rates were similar in the 1990s, by 2013 infant mortality across Appalachia was 16 percent higher than the rest of the country while life expectancy for adults was 2.4 years shorter.
While the region has been the focus of the opioid epidemic in recent years, the study found one of the biggest culprits was likely the prevalence of smoking and the region's tendency to be "more accepting of tobacco use as a social norm." Gopal K. Singh, a co-author of the study and a senior health equity adviser with the Health Resources and Services Administration, noted nearly 20 percent of Appalachian women report they smoked during pregnancy. In the rest of the country, it's 8 percent.

Read the full article.


National News

EMS on Life Support

By Arthur Hsieh - EMS1.com

It's been known for decades that rural EMS is in critical condition in the United States. Built on the backs of hard working, dedicated volunteers, rural ambulance services have been scraping by to continue to provide emergency response to their communities.

As the number of volunteers dwindles, so does the medical safety net that EMS provides. A recent study by the American College of Emergency Physicians verifies that trend – a rural EMS response may take almost twice as long as an urban response.

It's not only the loss of volunteer EMS providers creating a service gap. Funding for EMS overall has always been tight. Reimbursement for rural transport can be higher than for urban transport, but not enough to reliably make ends meet. 

Read the full article and related story in Kaiser Health News.

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CMS Hospital Rankings

By Tim Marema - Daily Yonder

The national hospital ranking system may be misleading patients about the quality of care they can expect to receive at rural medical facilities, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

That’s because rural hospitals are nearly three times more likely than urban ones to lack a rating, which could lead consumers to think rural hospitals were “hiding something” or had received a rating of zero. In fact, the researchers said, smaller hospitals were less likely to have enough cases to generate the data used in the rating system.

For the past four years, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid have released ratings for about 4,600 U.S. hospitals. Five stars is the highest level, and one is the lowest.

Read the full article.

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COPD Action Plan

By Kay Miller Temple - Rural Health Information Hub

A January 2017 report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrated that rural mortality rates have “decreased at a much slower pace, resulting in a widening gap between rural and urban mortality.” But, COPD Foundation president Grace Anne Dorney Koppel is quick to highlight an important outlier disease.

“Over the past 15 years, there is this growing divide between rural and metropolitan America, especially for the five leading rural causes of excess deaths,” Koppel said. “Despite this rural divide, rural death rate trends for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, all are going in the right direction. Except for one chronic disease. That exception is COPD. This must change.”

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

August 16: A Focus on Suicide Prevention in Rural Communities  - webinar
August 22: Chronic Care Management: Embrace It!  - webinar
September 7: Empowering a Rural Community to Create a Culture of Health - webinar
September 11: REVIVE! Opioid Overdose Education - Abingdon
September 25 & 26: The Governor's Summit on Rural Prosperity - South Boston, VA
October 25 & 26: Virginia Rural Providers Conference - South Boston, VA
November 12 & 13: Virginia Telehealth Network Summit - Richmond

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Building Opportunity: A Toolkit for Virginia's Future
Analysis and policy solutions that invest in Virginia's people and spur lasting economic growth in the Commonwealth.

Rural Emergency Preparedness and Response
Emergency preparedness and response can be difficult in rural areas due to challenges such as low population density and limited resources. Visit the guide to learn more about how rural communities can prepare for and effectively respond to an emergency. 

Model Program: Suicide Follow-Up Program
The Suicide Follow-Up Program provides phone calls and cards to North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota, residents who have called suicide helplines or were referred by a healthcare provider. 

Opioid Prescribing - Where You Live Matters
Presents county-by-county data on opioid prescriptions throughout the nation. Includes a guide for providers on how to decrease the amount of opioids prescribed, as well as what states, health insurers, and individuals can do to limit opioid use.

Model Program: Integrated Chronic Pain Treatment and Training Project
To reduce prescription opioid use, the ICPTTP standardizes and streamlines chronic pain management in North Carolina primary care clinics. 

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Funding Opportunities

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

Insurance Enrollment Assistance
Notice is hereby given by the Virginia Department of Health, Office of Purchasing and General Services of its intent to solicit proposals from qualified contractors to provide Insurance Enrollment Assistance statewide.  Copies of RFP#: VDH-18-611-0002 may be obtained by contacting Nancy Sconzo at nancy.sconzo@vdh.virginia.gov
Sealed Proposals will be received until 2:00 p.m. August 22, 2017 by the Virginia Department of Health, Office of Purchasing and General Services located on the 12th floor, 109 Governor Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219.

Wrigley Company Foundation Community Service Grant
Provides funding to dental hygienists for projects aimed at improving oral health or providing oral health education.
Application Deadline: Oct 1, 2017 

Give Kids A Smile Continuity of Care Grants
Grants to assist Give Kids a Smile programs that offer continuity of dental care to underserved children.
Application Deadline: Oct 31, 2017 

Future of Nursing Scholars
The goal of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars program is to develop the next generation of PhD-prepared nurse leaders who are committed to long-term careers that advance science and discovery, strengthen nursing education, and bring transformational change to nursing and health care. 
Deadline: September 14

Bus and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Program
Grants to assist in the financing of buses and bus facilities capital projects, including replacing, rehabilitating, purchasing, or leasing buses or related equipment, and rehabilitating, purchasing, constructing, or leasing bus-related facilities. A minimum of 10% of the total program funding will be awarded to projects located in rural areas.
Application Deadline: Aug 25, 2017 

Lowe's Toolbox for Education Program
Grants to help schools and parent teacher groups with school improvement and to provide for the basic needs of their students.
Application Deadline: Sep 29, 2017 

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