VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue December 1, 2014

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities



Newsletter available




Mental Health Policy Update    


The most recent General Assembly session saw a flury of proposals regarding mental health. Which ones passed?  How will they affect clinics, hospitals and the community in general?  This session will review the new laws, challenges and policy directions ahead.  

Join Jim Martinez, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services for this and other educational sessions at the VRHA Annual Conference!  Click the logo above for details.

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Virginia News

JLARC Divided

By  Michael Martz - Richmond Times-Dispatch

The political battle over Virginia’s Medicaid program rekindled, but the state’s divided legislative watchdog panel kept it from bursting into flames. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, generally known for staying above the General Assembly’s partisan and ideological fights, was headed for a sharply divided vote on a two-year study of Medicaid that would rely on outside consultants at an unspecified cost.

The commission decided to defer acting on the study resolution until next month, after advocates of the study agreed to give members more time to determine the potential costs and scope of the review.

Read the full article.

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Rural Hospitals at Risk

By By Sean S. McMurray - Richmond Times-Dispatch

Imagine running a business in which you serve customers regardless of their ability to pay. Only 20 percent of your customers pay their bills in full and the rest pay either 90 percent, 68 percent or nothing at all for the services you provide. Now ask yourself, how long do you think you would be able to keep operating with this business model?

This situation is very real. It is faced every day by many of our hospitals and health systems, but in particular those serving Virginia’s rural areas.  As a result, 20 of Virginia’s 37 rural hospitals are operating in the red, and seven have a negative net worth.

Read the full article.

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Close to Home

By Ashley Westerman - Voice of America

As the coal mining industry declines in the Appalachian Mountain state of Kentucky, officials are trying to find something to fill the void.  Some regional experts and policy makers see the health care industry as a jumping off point to their next economic boon.

Dr. Nikki Stone, a dentist, is leading a group focused on how to improve accessibility to health care.  It's part of a larger effort called Shaping Our Appalachia Region initiative (SOAR). Stone said health care is actually the number one industry in the region.

Read the full article.

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National News

Ebola & Rural America?

By Wayne Myers - Rural Monitor

As the United States responds to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, some aspects of the turmoil are striking.  First, it’s not the dimension of the threat, but the strangeness of the disease that seems to drive our public response.  Ebola has been recognized as a human illness in rural West Africa since 1976.  It’s believed to make its home in tropical fruit bats.  It’s not been sufficiently contagious to sustain an epidemic in humans until the last few months.  At that point it reached densely populated areas lacking sanitation, public health and clinical services.   In that setting it could gain enough momentum to become self-sustaining.  In the current outbreak it is believed to have killed about 5,000 people.  If Ebola were as contagious as some people imagine there would be no one left in West Africa.

What has Ebola to do with rural America?  The American military has been called to service in West Africa against the Ebola epidemic to build facilities while missionaries and other volunteers provide direct patient care.  Our military is disproportionately rural in origin.  I have the feeling rural people may also be overrepresented among the missionary volunteers, but I have no data.

Read the full article.

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Behavioral Health Gap

By John Roberts - Nebraska View

There is a significant gap between the number of people suffering from behavioral health disorders and the number who are receiving treatment. Those who do seek treatment from public programs often find that care is delayed, inefficient, fragmented and uncoordinated — if accessible at all.

This problem is dire in most rural communities. Our families, schools, businesses and criminal justice system are under incredible stress from people suffering from behavioral health issues, from severe mental health disorders to addiction. And there is still social stigma even though these conditions are highly treatable.

Read the full article.

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Rural VA Heart Care

By the Times and Democrat

Army veteran Billy Joe Paradise was a little uncertain as he walked up the stairs to his cardiology appointment at the Greenville VA Clinic. According to Paradise he was not sure what he was going to be in store for at this appointment at the newest VA specialty clinic. This clinic was different than anything he had seen before. He was confident with the staff and clinicians he would see, but what was a little perplexing was that this particular clinic was stationed more than 100 yards from the clinic in the parking lot and had wheels.

The Dorn VA Medical Center unveiled its new Cardiology and Vascular Mobile Medical Unit on Oct. 6. The unit is the first of its kind in the nation for the VA and will travel to rural parts of the upstate to provide specialized cardiology and vascular care to veterans.

Read the full article.

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Rural Data

By John R. Roby - Press Connects

According to Jack Salo, executive director of Rural Health Network of South Central New York, there are two Broome counties. During a workshop last week at Cornell Cooperative Extension, Salo said data typically used to study a population’s demographics, health needs and disparities in income do not generally focus on the rural side of the county.

“We want to organize data in a way that tells the story of rural Broome,” Salo said. The “Rural Broome Counts” workshop was intended to bring together advocates and service providers to address that.  The goal of Rural Broome Counts is to identify what services and infrastructure are essential to maintaining the viability and resilience of rural Broome’s people and communities, Salo said.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

December 5: Remote Area Medical - movie and discussion - Washington, DC
December 11 & 12: Virginia Rural Health Association Annual Conference - Staunton
February 3-5: Rural Health Policy Institute - Washington, DC
March 29-31: Shaping the Future of Healthcare through Innovation and Technology - White Sulphur Springs

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Phase VII of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) State Training for Surveillance of Heart Disease, Stroke and Other Chronic Diseases. 
Local and state health departments can apply for group training, free software and technical assistance to enhance GIS surveillance capacity. Applications due January 2015. 

National Eye Health Education Program Infographics
A variety of eye health infographics to help share information about eye diseases and conditions as well as the importance of comprehensive dilated eye exams. Infographics that highlight diabetic eye disease, cataract, low vision, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, vision and aging issues, and general eye health are available, as well as infographics focused on Hispanics/Latinos. 

Rural health disparities topic guide
The Rural Assistance Center’s new topic guide on health care access in rural communities provides an overview of challenges to health care access in rural America and ways communities and policymakers can address these community needs. The guide addresses the causes of these disparities, as well as rural/urban comparisons of health status, mortality rates and life expectancy.

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Funding Opportunities

The Cigna Foundation: World of Difference Grants
The Cigna Foundation, through its World of Difference Grants, provides support to nonprofit organizations throughout the country, with preference given to communities where Cigna has a significant presence. World of Difference Grants focus on the following health areas: children’s wellness, women’s health, senior care, and health equity. The Foundation is interested in supporting projects that focus on a specific health challenge or related group of challenges, offer opportunities for volunteer involvement by the Cigna team, and have the potential to expand to additional geographic areas. Online requests may be submitted at any time.

Sidney Stern Memorial Trust
Deadline: Rolling
Funding to provide support for nonprofit organizations, including for medical purposes. 

Tobacco Use Prevention Research
The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth announces its Best Value Request for Proposals (RFP) funding opportunity for research projects. Virginia universities, nonprofit/charitable organizations, government entities and businesses are eligible to submit proposals for the three-year contract period of July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2018.  Individual grant awards will not exceed $150,000 per year ($450,000 total for all three years) to implement tobacco use prevention/cessation programs in Virginia communities.

NCCF Grant Cycle
Deadline: Wed, 12/31/2014
The Nelson County Community Fund was created by the Nelson County Advisory Committee (NCAC) to award annual grants to especially imaginative and collaborative approaches to solving community needs in Nelson County.  Categories of support include human services, education, environment, health, community needs and development.


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