VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  March 16, 2016

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


March Newsletter Available




Rural Health Works!

Research shows that community health services provide more than medical care. Rural health providers have a reciprocal effect on the community’s jobs, commerce, and overall economy.

How do you demonstrate that effect?  Through Rural Health Works!
VRHA is partnering with the National Center for Rural Health Works to provide a FREE webinar series on the economic impact of healthcare in rural communities.  Webinar schedule is:

  • March 26:  Impact of a Rural Health Network
  • April 30: Impact of a Community Health Center (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinic
  • May 28: Impact of a Small Rural Hospital

Visit the VRHA webinar page for details and registration.

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New Student Officers

The VRHA Student Club at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine has elected new officers.  Congratulations to:

  • President: Murry Adams
  • Vice President: Mallory Stewart
  • Secretary: Shelby Lutz
  • Treasurer: Katie O'Brien
  • Volunteer Coordinator: Kalkidan Ayalew

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Virginia News

Grundy Fights Back

By Luanne Rife - Roanoke Times

A town is only as well as its people. But measuring a community’s health is far more complicated than lining up the residents and measuring their waist lines, cholesterol and blood pressure — or counting the number of people drawing a disability check.

So when a national publication recently pegged Grundy, a small town in far Southwest Virginia, as the “sickest town in America” based mostly on the number of former coal miners in surrounding Buchanan County eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, the community’s leaders were incensed. Their community has its challenges, they said, but no more so than other places in America.

Buchanan County Administrator Craig Horn said the story has tainted the community’s reputation and that of its workforce. He worries that it will hamper efforts to market the county’s new 3,200-acre business park. “We’re exploring our options,” he said, alluding to possible legal action.

Read the full article.

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Big Step for Lee

By Kylie McGivern - News Channel 11

Lee County Hospital Authority (LCHA) publicly announced: 

"We have accepted Wellmont's proposal for the price. The Authority will make arrangements to pay cash at closing. Closing will occur as quickly as possible." 

It's the announcement much of the region has waited for. But the deal isn't done just yet. Specifics on the deal could be released as early as next week. The Authority hopes it will take possession of the hospital building as soon as the first week of April. 

The Authority continues to meet the requirements to be designated as a critical access hospital (CAH), and is now exploring several grant opportunities. The LCHA met with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, plans to apply for a $500,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant, a $750,000 Community Development block grant, and is exploring funding opportunities through the Tobacco Commission. The LCHA says it also continues to work on building information about foundations that have an interest specifically in Southwest Virginia for further funding opportunities. 

Read the full article.

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Evaluating ARC

By Jonathan Drew - WBNS

The agency created five decades ago to fight poverty in Appalachia has helped county economies grow with nearly $4 billion in spending, but the region still lags in key measures of educational, economic and physical well-being, according to a new study.

The exhaustive report ordered up by the Appalachian Regional Commission cites progress in some categories — poverty rates have fallen by about half, for instance — though the research didn't quantify the ARC's role in many of the individual demographic trends. And researchers noted that other problems persist, including disproportionately high mortality rates and dependency on government checks.

The commission's leaders acknowledge that even after half a century, the need for aid is as great as ever, a sentiment echoed by heads of charities in the region.

Read the full article.

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National News

HHS Attacks Rural Hospitals

By Lindsey Corey - National Rural Health Association

As rural hospitals rapidly close across the nation, the National Rural Health Association is appalled by yet another attempt by HHS’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) to limit rural patients’ access to health care by calling for even more payment cuts to critical access hospitals (CAHs).

HHS’ OIG released a report suggesting the return of a failed payment system that led to the closure of 440 rural hospitals across the nation in the 1980s and ’90s.

NRHA calls upon the Administration and Congress to stop the flood of rural hospital closures and protect access to care for millions of rural Americans.

Due to numerous Medicare and Medicaid cuts and burdensome regulations, 48 rural hospitals have closed since 2010. Nearly 300 more are on the brink of closure. Acting on the OIG’s poorly reasoned recommendations will exponentially escalate the number of rural hospital closures.

Read the full article, then contact your members of Congress today.  Protect rural patients’ access to care. Support critical access hospitals. #SaveRural

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Dying Rural Hospitals Affect Most Vulnerable

Coshandra Dillard - Tyler Morning Telegraph 

When a county is without a hospital, that has lasting effects on the most vulnerable residents. Upshur County has experienced it before, as health care systems have struggled to maintain a hospital there. East Texas Medical Center Gilmer joins several other hospitals around the country closing primarily because of declining reimbursement rates from Medicare and Medicaid.

In Upshur County, about 15.8 percent live below the federal poverty line and 25 percent of children live in poverty. Seniors are vulnerable, too.  When Al and Doris Szameit, moved to Gilmer five months ago, they didn’t imagine they’d live in a community without a hospital. They moved there because of the proximity of the hospital to their senior living complex. Szameit, 83, feels it’s a strange twist of fate.

Read the full article.

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'Doctor Up' Local Economies

By the Midwest Producer

Many thoughts go into choosing a place to live and work. Access to affordable housing, high-quality schools and a comprehensive health care system are among those considerations that typically rise to the top of the list.

Economic development, particularly for rural communities, relies on quality of life attributes such as health care, which can include access not only to hospitals, but also physician offices, pharmacies, ambulatory care, dental care, nursing care, and wellness and fitness centers. 

These establishments can contribute directly to the local economy through employment and income from items such as retail sales and tax revenue, said John Leatherman, professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University and director of the Office of Local Government, K-State Research and Extension. A sustainable health care system has many other indirect economic benefits, including attracting and maintaining other business and industry growth, and keeping retirees in the local area.

In Kansas, health services directly and indirectly support 357,408 jobs in the state, which is up nearly 9,000 from a year ago and have gradually increased over time following national trends. National employment in health services has increased 75 percent from 1990 to 2010 and by about 350 percent since 1970.

Read the full article.

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Rural Health – Rethinking Care

By Lisa Chamoff - DOTmed 

In July, the Carolinas HealthCare System Anson in Wadesboro, N.C., a town of about 5,800 people, opened the doors to its new facility and embarked on a bold experiment: replacing Anson Community Hospital, a 52-bed inpatient facility built in 1954, with a new model of delivering health care. 

Built for $20 million, the new hospital kept the emergency department, but cut the number of inpatient beds by nearly three quarters, to 15. While the facility still offers radiology, digital imaging, laboratory, pharmacy, surgery, and inpatient services, there is a patient-centered medical home within the ED, in an effort to provide primary care while reducing costly and unnecessary ER utilization. There are also community-based partnerships to address chronic health issues, such as diabetes, in rural Anson County, which in 2012 was ranked 89th out of North Carolina’s 100 counties in the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program.

At a time when rural hospitals are closing at a rapid pace — more than two dozen have closed since January 2013, according to the National Rural Health Association — the leaders at the Carolinas HealthCare System knew things needed to change. 

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

March 20: HIV & Oral Health - webinar
March 26: Impact of a Rural Health Network - webinar
March 29-31: Shaping the Future of Healthcare through Innovation and Technology - White Sulphur Springs
April 1: Investing in Community Health Workers - Fredericksburg
April 8-9: Virginia Forum on Youth Tobacco Use - Richmond
April 30: Impact of a Community Health Center (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinic - webinar

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What is Rural
Visit this newly updated topic guide to learn about some of the most commonly used federal definitions of rural, including why we need them and how they are used.

Roadmap to Develop Cross-Jurisdictional Sharing Initiatives
A guidebook to help local and county governments learn how they might share public health services regionally for more effective and efficient operations. The guide is based on a national public health learning community that includes rural public health organizations.

Distribution of U.S. Health Care Providers Residing in Rural and Urban Areas
This fact sheet presents the supply and distribution of practitioners in 32 health occupations across urban and rural areas, based on their place of residence.

Resources Help Raise Awareness of Low Vision
Materials to create awareness among children and adults with vision impairment, their families and friends, and the general public about available vision rehabilitation services. This program seeks to inform eye healthcare providers who work with children and adults with vision impairments of the potential benefits of vision rehabilitation services.

Obesity in America
Summary report of obesity in America dedicated to connecting patients, students and professionals to the latest and most useful healthcare information and resources available.

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Funding Opportunities

Rural Health Care Coordination Network Partnership Program
Application deadline: Apr 6, 2015
BPHC has announced $1.6 million which will be awarded to 8 entities. The purpose of the Rural Health Care Coordination Network Partnership Program is to support the development of formal, mature rural health networks that focus on care coordination activities for the following chronic conditions: diabetes, congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Community Foundation of the New River Valley 
Spring Grant Application is now available! Over $30,000 will be available in the Spring 2015 grant cycle to support a variety of fields of interest. 
The deadline is Friday, March 20, 2015 at 5pm.

Accelerating Payment and Delivery System Reform Efforts
Application Deadline: April 14, 2015 (3 p.m. ET)
This program will support an organization to serve as a technical resource and expertise center that will facilitate customized assistance for immediate challenges, identify and share solutions, and engage in re-granting to support payment reform efforts poised to make substantial change. The center is intended to serve as a payment and delivery system reform “accelerator” with special emphasis on addressing safety-net provider challenges.

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