VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue August 11, 2014

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


August Newsletter





VRHA Making News 

VRHA in partnership with the New River Valley Partnership for Access to Healthcare (PATH) will be hosting a candidates' forum for the 38th Senate District special election.

The 38th Senate seat became available after the resignation of Senator Puckett.  The forum will give the candidates an opportunity to share their vision for the future of the region in a non-partisan setting.

The event will be exclusive to members of VRHA, PATH and other key stakeholders.  Look for your invitation soon!

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Members in the News

By SWVA Today

Three Mountain States Health Alliance Hospitals have received national recognition from Premier Inc., for delivering high-quality, cost-effective health care.

Sycamore Shoals Hospital in Elizabethton, TN, and [VRHA member] Smyth County Community Hospital earned the highest honor by achieving top performance in all of the six areas measured in Premier’s QUEST collaborative. They were among only 18 hospitals nationwide to receive the QUEST Award for High-value Healthcare.

Read the full article.

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It's Working

Ken Alltucker - The Republic

The number of unpaid bills at Arizona hospitals dropped dramatically during the first four months of the year as more than 300,000 residents gained health coverage under the state's Medicaid expansion and the federal health-care law.

An Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association survey of 75 percent of the state's hospitals reported uncompensated care of $170 million through the first four months of the year, down from $246 million over the same ­period one year earlier.

That's a 31 percent drop in uncompensated care, which measures both charity care for those who can't afford to pay for their hospital stays and bad debt from hospital bills that go ­unpaid.

Read the full article

Time for Action! Contact your member of the General Assembly and inform him or her that Virginia must follow suit and move forward with Medicaid Expansion in order to protect our rural hospitals and rural communities.  Click here for talking points and contact information.

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Virginia News

Crisis Care is No Answer

By Secretary Bill Hazel -Roanoke Times

Michael Thompson, president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute, recently asserted on this opinion page that “no one is without medical help when it is really needed.” He cited the existence of free clinics and hospital emergency rooms in some, although certainly not all, communities across the commonwealth (“Thoughts on Medicaid reform,” July 24 commentary).  I do not know how Thompson defines real need, but he missed an opportunity to look it in the eye last month at the Wise County Fairgrounds.

I regularly encounter real need in my travels across the commonwealth as secretary of health and human resources. Nowhere is that need more cruelly concrete as what I have encountered during my five weekends as a volunteer with the Remote Area Medical clinic.

Real need stared back at me as I slogged down muddy paths lined with tents sheltering men, women and children who huddled on metal folding chairs for hours waiting to see a doctor or dentist. For many, it would be their only chance for medical attention this year.

Thompson seems to define real need in terms of crisis care. My RAM patients know firsthand that is a hard-hearted and misguided method to diagnose the health care challenge we now face in Virginia.

Short on money and desperate to end months of agony, many have sought relief from addictive painkillers that mask the symptoms of one medical condition but trap them in a more dangerous addiction. Others at the Wise fairgrounds hoped to deter future dental abscesses by persuading a dentist to remove all of their teeth.

Crisis care alone cannot replace regular preventive medical services and management of chronic diseases. We can do better in Virginia than a triage-model health care system that provides true medical care one day a year, and for the remaining 364 days parses out pills and platitudes.

Read the full article and related story by the Public News Service.

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Needs Outstrip Services

By NBC29.com

A new study from the University of Virginia shows central Virginia is seriously lacking when it comes to mental health services. The study focused on people who can't afford private services, and are forced to rely on regional community service boards.

UVA Professor Steven Stearn found the area's sole public mental health provider, Region Ten, is only serving about half of the people in need. The people are largely those who rely on Medicaid for health insurance. Stearn estimates anywhere from 5 to 30 percent of people without a college degree are coping with some kind of mental health issue, and even by conservative estimates much of that need is not being met.

Read the full article.

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From Zero to Six?

By the Roanoke Times Editorial Board

Not long ago, you could count the number of medical schools in this part of the state on a cat’s thumb. There were none.

Then came the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, which admitted its first students in 2003 and graduated its first class in 2007. Next came the Appalachian College of Pharmacy in Oakwood in 2005, graduating its first class in 2008. In 2010, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine opened in Roanoke; it graduated its first class earlier this year.

But wait, there’s more.

In August, Liberty University in Lynchburg opens its College of Osteopathic Medicine, with 160 students enrolled. Plus, there are two more schools on various stages of the drawing board. The proposed Southwest Virginia School of Medicine (originally conceived as an offshoot of King College in Bristol but now an independent project with Emory & Henry College and the University of Virginia as partners) would be in Abingdon. And Bluefield College has plans for a dental school in Tazewell County.

So we could conceivably go from zero to six — four medical schools, one dental school and one pharmacy school.

Why did this happen? How did this happen? And what does this mean?

Read the full article.

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National News

Home for August

By Erin Mahn - National Rural Health Association

Members of Congress are back home for their five-week district work period. The National Rural Health Association encourages rural health leaders across the country to visit the district offices, attend town halls and invite members of Congress to tour rural facilities.

The rural health care safety net is in jeopardy.  More rural hospitals have closed in the last year than over the past decade and they are continuing to face more challenges with Medicare reductions, failure to expand state Medicaid, and regulatory changes imposed by CMS.

Rural hospitals are critical to rural American and provide great value to the rural patient, rural community and taxpayer. Urge your members of Congress to stand up for rural and protect the rural health safety net.

NRHA has outlined concerns with the Affordable Care Act, sequestration and the attacks on rural hospitals here.


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Hospital Closures

By Dustin Barnes - The Clarion-Ledger

A rural Mississippi hospital emergency room will close its doors in September, citing cost of running the 24-hour medical service. The move means residents might have to travel further for overnight emergency medical services.Trace Regional Hospital will cease to have an ER on Sept. 8, but will open a health clinic with shortened hours to serve emergency medical needs in Chickasaw County.

The new clinic's hours will run from 9 a.m.-9 p.m., seven days a week. But the lack of overnight hours has been worrisome to residents who might have to drive 30 minutes to the next closest ER at the North Mississippi Medical Center in Pontotoc.

The closure is one some state leaders have said could be possible if Mississippi refused to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Read the full article and similar stories in Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio.

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Rural Infrastructure Fund

From the US Department of Agriculture

The White House Rural Council today announced the creation of the new U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund through which private entities can invest in job-creating rural infrastructure projects across the country. An initial $10 billion has been committed to the fund with greater investment expected to follow. Target investments will include hospitals, schools and other educational facilities, rural water and wastewater systems, energy projects, broadband expansion, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure. 

The Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund will allow America's rural economy to continue its forward momentum by enhancing access to capital for rural infrastructure projects and speeding up the process of rural infrastructure improvements. The fund is immediately open for business and more investors can now add to the initial $10 billion in available capital. 

Read the full press release.

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New Rural Providers

By Alex Smith - Harvest Public Media 

One possible solution to the problem faced by places like rural Missouri was proposed by St. Louis plastic surgeon Edmond Cabbabe. He says he realized that many recent medical school graduates were having trouble finding residencies.

“They’re sitting there idle,” Cabbabe said. “They cannot earn any living. They cannot gain any experience, and there was no solution available to them.”

Of more than 17,000 medical school graduates in the United States this year, about 600 didn’t match for a residency. Cababbe’s plan would allow these graduates to work in medically underserved areas in Missouri as primary care doctors.

The first such plan in the country, it has pitted health providers against one another amid concerns about the plan’s effect on the health of patients and the dilution of professional standards.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

August 19: Telemedicine in Rural Communities: An Innovative Approach to Delivering Healthcare - webinar
August 20: Quality Innovation Network QIO Kick-Off Call
August 21: REVIVE! Training event - Lebanon
September 30-October 1: Rural Health Clinic Conference - Kansas City, MO
October 1-3: Critical Access Hospital Conference - Kansas City, MO
December 11 & 12: Virginia Rural Health Association Annual Conference - Staunton​

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Virginia Association of Free & Charitable Clinics
The VAFCC is pleased to share that they have a NEW website! Check out the new zip code search feature for locating clinics.

Telehealth Use in Rural Healthcare Topic Guide
RAC's Telehealth Use in Rural Healthcare topic guide has several new FAQs. Visit the guide to learn about the types of care that can be provided using telehealth services, how telehealth improves access to care in rural communities, the financial impact the services have on rural healthcare facilities, and more. 

What's Different about Rural Health Care?
Ever need to explain to a politician, reporter or grantor what's unique about the work you do? NRHA has pulled together a great set of facts that can be easily dropped into press releases, program descriptions and other communications to give you the facts to back up your needs.

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Funding Opportunities

Ben & Jerry's Foundation Grants
Deadline: 10/15/14
One-year grants of up to $20,000 will be awarded to nonprofit grassroots community-organizing groups in the United States working to further social and environmental justice and support sustainable and just-food systems. Grants can be used to support both program and operational costs.
AMA Foundation Grants
Deadline: 09/12/14
Through its annual Healthy Living Grant Program, the foundation will award grants of up to $8,000 to support grassroots health education programs that develop school- and community-based solutions to behavioral health challenges in the area of prescription drug safety. Projects must involve a collaboration with a medical organization.

VBCF Kohlenberg Award
Deadline: August 31
The Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation (VBCF) established the Sharon H. Kohlenberg Healthcare Service Award in 1995 to recognize Virginians employed in the healthcare field who “exhibit a deep and abiding commitment to the fight against breast cancer.” The award honors the memory of Sherry Kohlenberg, a healthcare administrator and co-founder of VBCF, who died from breast cancer in 1993. The purpose of the award is to recognize healthcare professionals who go above and beyond what is normally expected of a competent, caring professional working with Virginians affected by breast cancer. 

The Dennis Foundation Grants
Deadline: Ongoing
The Dennis Foundation seeks to fund organizations that operate in the areas of education, health, human services, and religion. The Foundation distributes 30 grants per year that have an average size of $500 to $5,000. In total, around $69,100 in grant funds are awarded each year.

Plum Creek Foundation Grants
Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Offers grants in 18 states to human service organizations; hospitals and medical programs, including funds for equipment; youth-serving organizations; community development projects; arts and culture projects; civic service organizations; and educational institutions.

Geographic Coverage: Available in areas of company operations in 18 states, including the following Virginia counties - 

  • Albemarle
  • Amherst
  • Appomattox
  • Bedford
  • Buckingham
  • Campbell
  • Charlotte
  • Cumberland
  • Franklin
  • Greensville
  • Halifax
  • Nelson
  • Pittsylvania

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