Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  July 6, 2015

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VRHA News

Class Act

What’s the difference between “underserved” and “not up to speed” when it comes to labeling population groups? How does being rural, poor and white affect expectations of blame, shaming and resource allocation?  What is the best practice for rural health advocates within these parameters?

Join 
Wendy Welch, PhD, Executive Director of the SWVA Graduate Medical Education Consortium for the interactive discussion "Class Act: How Rural is Labeling its Residents and Resources"  to find out.

Click the conference logo for event details.
GIF logo
VRHA Annual Conference
October 13 & 14
Staunton, VA

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REVIVE!

In conjunction with the VRHA Annual Conference, the  Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services will be hosting a REVIVE! Training of Trainers.  REVIVE! is Virginia’s Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education (ONE) program, helping people learn how to recognize and respond to opioid overdose emergencies by administering naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Medical experience is helpful but not necessary!

So come for the VRHA Conference, stay for the free REVIVE! training.  Click here for additional information.

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Come Audit Us!

The VRHA Board of Directors is looking for a few volunteers to serve on the Audit committee. The committee provides oversight of VRHA's systems of internal controls by providing an internal audit separate from the Finance Committee.  If you would like to serve VRHA in this manner, please contact Executive Director Beth O'Connor or Committee Chair Chuck Carr.

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Virginia News

We Are Dying

By Richard Formato - CNBC

Emotionally, even with our great rivers and high mountain ridges, the truth is, we really don't want or welcome long-term visitors, because we are concealing something. We are addicts. Five years ago methamphetamine was a ghost story, something confined to the shadowy hollers in the valleys of the abandoned coalfields. Not anymore.

For the state of Virginia as a whole, illicit drug use among minors and adults is similar to the national average, according to the federal government. The use of Methadone and Buprenorphine (Suboxone includes Buprenorphine) for substance-abuse treatment in Virginia has significantly risen in the most recent five-year study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. government.  This is the Virginia I know.

Read the full editorial

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Overdose Reporting



A new state law effective Wednesday will provide a defense for individuals who responsibly call 911 to report an alcohol or drug overdose — thanks in part to a group of graduate students at Virginia Tech. It was passed to encourage bystanders to report potentially fatal overdoses without fear of being prosecuted if they too are using alcohol or drugs.

An Orientation to Professional Counseling class at Virginia Tech taught by Gerard Lawson became involved in 2014. Lawson tasked his students that summer to come up with an advocacy project that would offer better access to a counseling-related resource and three of his students independently decided to present on Good Samaritan laws.For Tori Hayes, one of the students involved in the project, the bill has a personal connection deeper than just a class assignment — Hayes had a close friend who died of a heroin overdose a couple of years ago.

Read the full article.

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RAM Drones



The sprawling field hospital that springs up in rural southwest Virginia every summer has been called the largest health-care outreach operation of its kind.  This year, the event will host another first. Unmanned aerial vehicles — drones — will deliver medicine to the Wise County Fairgrounds in part to study how the emerging technology could be used in humanitarian crises around the world.

Organizers expect the July 17 flights to the Remote Area Medical clinic to make history as the first federally approved package deliveries in the United States.  As executive director of the Health Wagon, Teresa Owens Gardner runs two stationary health-care clinics and a mobile unit that travels to remote locations. Once the clinics are in place, if she runs out of supplies, there’s no way to retrieve more from stockpiles that lie hours away.

“They’ve got the medication. We’ve got the patients. I’ve got patients dying without medication,” said Gardner, who brought RAM to Virginia. “[Drones] could really be game-changing and increase access and save lives.”

Read the full article.

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National News

Poverty to Prosperity

By Kathleen Belanger - Rural Assistance Center

Sometimes we talk of poverty as if it were a tangible item—a stain, an illness, or a backpack filled with burdens. We think about programs to relieve that burden—cures for poverty, wars on poverty.

In reality, poverty is probably more like missing pieces in the quilt of well-being and prosperity that should surround our children and families. Children and families need food and safe homes. They need nourishment for the mind—good schools and teachers, books, libraries, and Internet access to find information. They need accessible health care in or near their own communities, and the means to access more specialized care in other communities when necessary. They need people to support them and give them good advice, as well as to help them make choices, learn from mistakes and connect with other resources. They need dreams and hopes to fill their spirits. They need independence, but also interdependence in community, including the ability to help others. And they need jobs—employment to provide the food, housing, safety, independence and well-being to sustain a family. These are pieces that make the fabric of well-being and prosperity.

Read the full article.

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Online Medicare



Nearly 20 years after videoconferencing technology has been available for health services, fewer than 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries use it. Anthem and a health plan in western Pennsylvania are the only two Medicare Advantage insurers offering the virtual visits, and the traditional Medicare program has tightly limited telemedicine payments to certain rural areas. And even there, the beneficiary must already be at a clinic, a rule that often defeats the goal of making care more convenient.

Congress has maintained such restrictions out of concern that the service might increase Medicare expenses. The Congressional Budget Office and other analysts have said giving seniors access to doctors online will encourage them to use more services, not replace costly visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers.

This year, Medicare expanded telemedicine coverage for mental health services and annual wellness visits — when done in certain rural areas and when the patient is at a doctor’s office or health clinic.

Read the full article.

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The Economic Impact 

By Business Wire

As walkers complete their 283-mile journey to Capitol Hill to raise awareness of the 283 rural hospitals vulnerable to closure, iVantage Health Analytics released new findings which further amplify the impact of sequestration and reduced bad debt reimbursement on rural hospitals across America. Between 2012 and 2015, critical access hospitals (CAHs) have seen a reduction in their reimbursable bad debt from 100 percent to 65 percent. Rural PPS facilities have seen their reimbursements decline from 70 percent to 65 percent.

“Taken together, sequestration and bad debt have had a disproportionately large impact on the bottom line of rural hospitals. iVantage has modeled the impact for each facility based upon their most recently filed cost report in our Hospital Strength INDEX™. The results are staggering,” said Michael Topchik, senior vice president at the analytics and advisory company.

Read the full article.

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Surviving Small

By Chelsea Keenan and Chris Essig - The Gazette

In Iowa, the rural health care system is made up of 82 critical access hospitals — a special Medicare designation for smaller 25-bed facilities — and 142 rural health clinics, making it one of the largest rural health systems in the country, said Gloria Vermie, director of the State Office of Rural Health Director, which is part of the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Iowa has a rural population of more than 1.4 million people — or about 46 percent of the state's population. But planning their futures — whether that is attracting physicians, fundraising or dealing with aging infrastructure — can be a challenge.

Shifting focus to increasing the quality of care could benefit small hospitals, he said, because with fewer patients, they can respond quickly to problem areas. But at the same time, he said, because of limitations on how long critical access hospitals can keep patients, some quality measures such as infection rates can't be applied to them.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

July 15-17: Rural Quality & Clinical Conference - Minneapolis, MN
July 20: Effective Business Models for Telehealth - webinar
August 24-27: Arthritis, AgrAbility, and Rural Health Conference - Knoxville, TN
September 29-30: Rural Health Clinic Conference - Kansas City, MO
September 30-October 2: Critical Access Hospital Conference - Kansas City, MO
October 13-14: VRHA Annual Conference - Staunton
October 15: REVIVE! Training of Trainers - Staunton

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Resources

Care Coordination in Rural Communities: Supporting the High Performance Rural Health System
Examines care coordination programs and processes to see how they impact rural people and places, to observe how different approaches to care coordination are working, and to make policy recommendations that support care coordination to help facilitate a high performance rural health system.

Rural Transit Fact Book 2015
Provides national and state-level statistics and information on rural transit in America. Includes rural demographic and travel behavior data. Also covers financial and operating statistics for agencies receiving section 5311 funding. Includes a section on tribal transit.


Improving Health through Accountable Care Communities  
An Accountable Care Community is a health improvement strategy in which multiple community stakeholders work collaboratively to advance the Triple Aim of better care, better health, and lower cost in their regions, and to share the responsibility for the health of the community.  The creation of Accountable Care Communities (ACCs) in Virginia is the core strategy of Virginia's State Innovation Model (SIM) Design Grant which is currently underway. 

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Funding Opportunities

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

Christopher Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grants
Application deadline: Aug 3, 2015
Grants to nonprofit organizations that provide services to individuals with paralysis, with special consideration given to wounded military and their families.


HIV/AIDS Community Information Outreach Projects
Due: July 20, 2015
Award ceiling: $50,000
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is pleased to announce the solicitation of quotations from organizations and libraries to design and conduct projects that will improve access to HIV/AIDS related health information for patients, the affected community, and their caregivers. They are particularly interested in community-based organizations, including local health agencies working to improve the public health in the area of HIV/AIDS-related services. 

Avon Breast Health Outreach Program
The mission of the Avon Breast Health Outreach Program (BHOP) is to link medically underserved women and men to breast health education and screening services. Grants are available to community-based nonprofit organizations and healthcare agencies in the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Avon BHOP supports non-medical expenses incurred by funded programs to link underserved women with free or low-cost breast cancer screening services and follow-up care. Approximately $2.5 million in grant funds will be awarded to around 50 organizations. The majority of the grants will range from $30,000 to $60,000, with an average of $45,000. To ensure that smaller community-based organizations receive funding, at least 30% of the grants will be awarded to organizations with operating budgets under $2,000,000. Projects in Avon Walk Cities as well as states with high breast cancer incidence or morbidity are of special interest; however, BHOP attempts to distribute funds throughout the entire U.S. The application deadline is August 21, 2015. 

Department of Agriculture
The Rural Community Development Initiative provides financial and technical assistance to recipients in developing their capacity and ability to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development. The application deadline is August 13, 2015.

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