Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  March 21, 2016

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


March newsletter





QIO Webinar

VRHA and KEPRO are teaming up to offer you the Beneficiary and Family Centered Care
Quality Improvement Organization (BFCC-QIO) Program Webinar.

KEPRO is the BFCC-QIO for over 30 states. KEPRO offers information and assistance to providers, patients, and families regarding beneficiary complaints, discharge appeals, and Immediate Advocacy. During the webinar, KEPRO representatives will present an overview of the role of the BFCC-QIO and the services provided.

Webinar is FREE and will be held April 6, 2016, 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. Click the logo to register.


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Members in the News

By Malissa Watterson - DelMarVaNow

he Northampton Board of Supervisors approved [VRHA member] Eastern Shore Rural Health’s special use permit to construct a new medical facility in Eastville. Supervisor Robert Duer made the motion to approve Rural Health’s request to build a 22,722-square-foot community health center on 14 acres of farmland south of the Shore Stop gas station.

Rural Health CEO Nancy Stern first sought the board’s approval of the special use permit in January. She explained the need to sell the aging Franktown and Bayview health centers in Northampton in order to build a larger facility that would allow for improved outpatient primary care services.

Read the full article.

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Congratulations to VRHA Student Board Member R. Blake Lowe for receiving a residency match with Geisinger Medical Center.  Furthermore, the Virginia Campus of Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine had a 100% match rate for their students this year!

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Virginia News

Missing Opportunity

By Dan Heyman - Public News Service 

The Virginia General Assembly is missing an opportunity to bring care to medically under-served parts of the state, nurse practitioners say. Going into the session, several bills would have loosened regulations and let mid-level medical providers operate in the mostly rural areas without enough doctors. 

Senate Bill 369 would have permitted nurse practitioners in an under-served or high-unemployment area to see patients without the current requirement of a collaborative agreement with a doctor. But the bill was changed to create a pilot project for doctors instead, to use telemedicine to see patients remotely. 

Read the full article.

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Competing Systems

By Nathan Baker - Johnson City Press

The health system created by merging the Tri-Cities' dominant hospital systems would be positioned to compete with some of the largest systems in the country, and may eventually consider buying other hospitals, leaders said.

In a meeting with Johnson City Press' editorial board, Mountain States Health Alliance's CEO Alan Levine and his counterpart at Wellmont Health System, Bart Hove, said the new system would be one of the largest in the country affiliated with a medical university and would have a higher patient volume than Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

"Health care, if you take a snapshot today, it's not a stagnant environment, it is rapidly moving from pay-for-volume to pay-for-value," Hove said, noting the fundamental changes underway in the health care industry. "Part of that concept is to have an organization that is large enough to manage a population and be successful in the long-run in this changing health care environment."

Read the full article.

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Expansion for Some

By Massey Whorley - Commonwealth Institute

The fact that the state House and Senate were willing to expand health care for some people in the budget they agreed upon highlights how damaging their refusal to close the coverage gap is for others. Let’s take a look at two examples. 

Both chambers deserve credit for coming together on a budget that increases funding for some critical health care needs. The approved budget, for example, makes limited medical care available for an estimated 3,600 more people suffering from serious mental illness. By devoting an additional $5.4 million in state funds along 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. 

Though that is an important step, it is reflective of the legislature’s overall approach to health care. Lawmakers doubled down on the flawed belief that it is better to partially expand health coverage for some people in a way that costs the state money, than to fully expand coverage for more people in a way that saves the state money. 

Read the full article.

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National News

Poverty and Addiction


In America's rural communities, poverty, health and education gaps, and a striking increase in opiate addiction are challenging social services and the budget. News of the increasing numbers of deaths among middle-aged Americans and the high rates of opiate overdoses are in the news, and since 2011, the Obama administration's Rural Poverty Coalition has been tackling the multi-generational issues that come with providing social services to rural America. 

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has headed up the coalition since its introduction. Secretary Vilsack experienced the pain of coping with a family member who abuses drugs and alcohol firsthand — his mother struggled with addiction — and feels strongly about providing a multi-tiered approach to combating poverty and addiction, which he says go hand in hand. 

Collaboration with the education and medical communities is key to making sure that rural poverty doesn't disproportionately disadvantage children, Vilsack says. But to truly broaden opportunities for young people living in rural communities, there needs to be a financial trickle down — that means more and better-paying jobs, and direct solutions for the opiate and alcohol related deaths that are more rampant in remote areas.

Read the full article.

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Air Ambulance 

By Corin Cates-Carney -Atlantic

Butte is an old mining town tucked in the southwest corner of Montana with a population of about 34,000. Locals enjoy many things you can’t find elsewhere—campgrounds a quick drive from downtown and gorgeous mountain ranges nearby. But in Butte, as in much of rural America, advanced medical care is absent.

People in Butte who experience serious trauma or need specialty care rely on flights—air ambulances—to get them the help they need. There were close to 3,000 air ambulance flights in Montana last year. And Amy Thomson of Butte was on one of them. 

The way the Thomsons read their insurance plan, they thought any emergency medical transportation was covered. But it turns out, the air-ambulance company was out of their network, and they got a bill for $56,000.

Read the full article.

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By Jacqueline DiChiara - RevCycle Intelligence

Medicare accountable care organizations (ACOs) are finally smoothing out regional hospitals' revenue cycle wrinkles. But successful ACOs still need to adopt tighter standards to remain financially viable. Critical access hospitals (CAHs) – many of which lack a standard emergency room – generally did not qualify for ACO-based incentives and funding.

But last year, CAHs began taking charge and creating new opportunities by establishing new ACOs. Because these particular healthcare providers tend to be smaller in size than their larger hospital counterparts, they can manage cost obstacles with greater ease, said Lynn Barr, MPH, Chief Transformation Officer of the National Rural Accountable Care Consortium.

Read the full article.

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Power Couples

If someone is well-educated, the odds are that he or she will marry someone with similar credentials, according to census data. And that trend has consequences when it comes to access to health care in rural areas.  Doctors are much more likely to marry people with advanced degrees than they used to be — 54 percent of married doctors in 2010 compared with less than 10 percent in 1960.

These trends, could further reduce the odds of these physicians working in rural areas. About 4 percent of power couples worked in underserved rural areas between 2005 and 2011, compared with about 7 percent of married doctors whose spouses weren’t as highly educated. That’s a small difference, but the researchers argue it’s still relatively significant.

But for small towns, the challenge is real. The research suggests that physicians who have spouses who are doctors themselves — or lawyers, investment bankers or in other fields that are marked by graduate degrees — are also more likely to live and work in places where their partners can find jobs. More often, those places are cities. And, if a spouse has a high-paying job, the couple is more likely to consider it now than they previously would have.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

March 23 & 24
: Rural Health Clinic Capstone Meeting - Blacksburg
March 28-31: National Rx Drug Abuse Summit - Atlanta, GA
April 6: BFCC-QIO Program webinar
April 6-8: National Health Outreach Conference - Roanoke
April 10-12: Mid Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center Annual Summit - Cambridge, MD
April 25-26: National Reduce Tobacco Use Conference - Washington, DC
April 26: Virginia Colorectal Cancer Roundtable - Roanoke

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Using Gardens to Grow Healthy Habits in Cafeterias, Classrooms and Communities
Just in time for spring, this new fact sheet provides guidance on using school garden produce in the cafeteria, planning for food safety needs, incorporating gardens into summer meal programs and early child care settings, and successfully sustaining garden efforts.

Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit
Designed to educate first responders, physicians, patients, family members, and community members on ways to prevent opioid overdose.  The Toolkit now includes information on the first FDA-approved nasal spray version of naloxone hydrochloride, a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Health Career Connection Internships
Health Career Connection (HCC) is developing internships for students interested in public health and community service! HCC can help you develop your community health center's Internship Program and provide a talented and diverse pool of candidates to serve your community. 

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Funding Opportunities

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

Virginia Health Safety Net Grants
VHCF grants work to increase access to primary care for uninsured Virginians and those who live in areas with limited access to care. 
Deadline: 7/29/16

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
The mission of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is to help low-income and vulnerable individuals and families by providing grants to nonprofit organizations that offer direct services. In addition to its existing grant areas, Basic Human Needs and Health, Disabilities, Education, General Community Support, Older Adults, and Workforce Development, on March 1st the Weinberg Foundation began accepting grants in a new program area serving veterans and their families. The grants portfolio for veterans primarily supports nonprofit organizations serving veterans and their families in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, DC. Grants are provided to organizations committed to ensuring military members and their families effectively reintegrate into their communities. Priority is given to programs focused on workforce development, physical and mental health, and the elimination of barriers to a variety of services. Letters of inquiry may be submitted throughout the year. 

Community Impact Grant Program
The Community Foundation of the New River Valley (CFNRV) is interested in providing greater resources to local nonprofit organizations in order to help strengthen their ability to address critical needs and make a lasting impact in the community. The CFNRV’s Community Impact Grant Program (CIGP) funds efforts that help to either launch a new project/program or to substantially improve an existing project/program.  The grant offers up to $10,000 of funding over a period of 3 years, with the annual distribution amount to be determined at the grantees discretion. Funding will be distributed according to the budgetary requirements of the particular program or project over the three year period. In addition, the Community Impact Grant Program offers a maximum of 10 hours of in-kind services (up to two types of services) per grant year to grant recipients.
Deadline: April 22

Appalachian Health Career Scholarships 
The Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK) at the University of Kentucky is administering scholarships where funding has been provided by the New York Community Trust, to Appalachian students seeking education in health or a health‐related field. Because of the shortage of health care providers in the Appalachian region, along with the expected retirement of many physicians and an aging population that demands more health care, the need to educate and then retain young health care professionals is a real priority. Scholarships are allocated for full‐time students with a maximum award of $2,500 per semester. Part‐time students are eligible to apply for partial scholarships. Students must be from an ARC defined Appalachian county to be eligible. Scholarship is for one year and cannot be renewed. 
Deadline: April 29th, 2016

Culture of Health Leaders
Robert Wood Johnson program will develop a large cadre of leaders from diverse sectors (e.g., public policy, business, technology, community development and planning, education, transportation, public health, health care, and others) to work with organizations, communities, health systems, and policymakers to build a Culture of Health in America. Over the course of the three-year program, each cohort of leaders will complete a leadership development curriculum, as well as individual and collaborative projects, that support the cultural shifts at the local, state, and national levels that are necessary for all people to have opportunities to achieve their best possible health and well-being.

The program will select up to 50 leaders for the 2016 cohort. Each leader will have access to up to $20,000 per year for three years (total of up to $60,000), as well as additional project funds to support their participation in the program and project-related activities. Leaders may also be eligible to receive additional financial support, if needed, through hardship and/or opportunity funds, to facilitate their participation in the program.
Deadline: April 19

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Virginia Rural Health Association
2265 Kraft Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24060

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