Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue February 16, 2015

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Resources
Funding Opportunities
VRHA Site

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VRHA News

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:

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

Visit the VRHA webinar page for details and registration.


New VRHA Officers

At a recent retreat, the VRHA Board of Directors elected new officers for 2015:

  • Elizabeth Locke - President
  • Chuck Carr - Vice President
  • Maggie Bassett - Secretary
  • Kate Lim - Treasurer
Congratulations to our new leadership team!  Thanks to outgoing officers Mary Crandall, Susan Meacham and Suzanne Lo for their service over the past year.

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VRHA & Dr. Murthy

By Laurence Hammack - Roanoke Times

America’s doctor made a house call to Roanoke. As part of a cross-country listening tour, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy spent about an hour speaking with officials from more than a dozen health care and community organizations [including VRHA].

The idea is that by checking the pulse of multiple communities, large and small, the government official who is sometimes called the nation’s top doctor will gain a better sense of the common challenges faced by health officials — and insight on how to solve those problems.

Read the full article.

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Members in the News

By Wanda Combs - SWVA Today

In their goal to provide a holistic approach to care, [VRHA member] Tri-Area Community Health Centers now include a Behavioral Health Program. Dr. Josh Bradley, Psy. D., is the new director for the services provided for Tri-Area’s three offices in Laurel Fork, Ferrum and Floyd.  In Floyd, Elise Greene, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, has recently joined the staff to head up the Behavioral Program there.

“We are trying to address the (needs of the) whole person under one roof,” Greene said. If a patient has needs beyond medical ones, other resources are now available in the same office.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

No Expansion = Hospitals in Bind

By Michael Martz - Richmond Times-Dispatch

Virginia lawmakers are beginning to see what lies on the other side of their decision not to expand Medicaid or health coverage of uninsured Virginians. Rural hospitals are seeking supplemental Medicaid funding to stay afloat financially, while public and nonprofit teaching hospitals want more state and federal Medicaid money for graduate medical education.

Sen. William M. Stanley Jr., R-Franklin County, an opponent who helped block McAuliffe’s attempt to expand coverage unilaterally last year, knows he has a problem in his largely rural Southside district, which has high numbers of uninsured and Medicaid patients who use hospital emergency rooms for their health care. 

Instead of trying to expand access to health care coverage, Stanley has pushed a package of bills to shift that focus to a medical home model, create regional accountable care organizations, promote telemedicine and telepsychiatry for remote locations, and expand opportunities for medical scholarships to attract doctors to rural areas.

Read the full article.

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Put Aside Differences

By Margo Maier - Capital News Service

Virginia’s secretary of health and human services, William A. Hazel, wants legislators to put aside their political differences and ensure that every resident of the commonwealth has access to affordable health care. Hazel is urging the General Assembly to expand Medicaid, the health coverage program for low-income people, as states are encouraged to do under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Although the Affordable Care Act made it easier and cheaper for many people to buy health insurance, Hazel said coverage gaps still exist.

“We had about 1 million Virginians who were uninsured in 2010,” he said. “Probably two-thirds of the people who came to a community health center last year to try and get coverage were told, ‘You do not qualify for a benefit in an exchange because you do not make enough money.’ Also, we do not cover single adults. We have all these people at lower incomes who are not eligible.”

Read the full article, related commentary in the Roanoke Times and related editorials in the Washington PostNews & Advance and the Free Lance Star.

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Competing Budget Proposals

By the Commonwealth Institute

Relying on a faster-than-expected rise in state tax revenues, the money committees had some room to invest in their priorities without making big cuts to other programs. But there are key differences in what they did and how they did it. They also departed from what the governor proposed in some important ways.

Click here for a chart of the summary level assessment of key aspects of the three budget proposals for a select number of issue areas.

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National News

Challenges and Innovation

By Rita Pryillis - H&HN

When it comes to solving complex problems, sometimes the simplest approach can yield the most dramatic results. That’s what administrators at one hospital found when they looked for ways to help the most vulnerable patients in their community.  

Like many larger, metropolitan hospitals, 99-bed Winona (Minn.) Health had a fair share of patients cycling in and out of the emergency department. But, hospital executives say, it also had an important advantage: a strong sense of community.

The idea is to make sure vulnerable people — like those with multiple chronic conditions, the elderly or frequent visitors to the ED — don’t get lost in the system. Robin Hoeg, RN, service line leader of inpatient services at Winona Health, and another nurse and a social worker support the coaches. “We wanted people who were trained in listening, in relationship building and goal-setting,” she says. “This is about empowering patients to take ownership of their illnesses.”

Read the full article.

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Reworking of Rural Healthcare

By Mark Guydish - Telegraph

In both urban and rural America health care cost pressures are the same, according to National Rural Health Association's Brock Slabach. For example, when an urban hospital needs a new, $700,000 CT scanner, the cost will be covered by the thousands of patients using that facility. In a rural hospital, the same equipment may never get used enough to pay for itself. It's not a one-time cost; the equipment must be maintained. Yet both hospitals, respectively, may get the same insurance reimbursement for a CT scan. 

In health care, rural America starts out sickly and neglected: more hypertension, more diabetes, more suicides, more serious accidents that are more often fatal, more uninsured patients, more people on Medicare and fewer physicians.
 
It’s not that the problems faced in the farmlands and dwindling Rust Belt burgs are different. But those woes get magnified in places where trees can outnumber people and the thin black ribbon of road connecting patient to care stretches 40 miles.

Read the full article.

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Funding Rural Public Health

By Niagara Frontier Publications

Rural health departments across the country are under considerable economic constraint as they try to maintain essential health services. A model program designed to assist rural counties in cutting costs by sharing health services has helped two Western New York counties realize health care savings approaching $840,000 over two years without loss of services or jobs. One developer says the program may help remake the landscape of rural health care in the U.S.

The project, "The Cross Jurisdictional Sharing Program," was devised collaboratively by the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, the health departments of Orleans and Genesee counties, and the Lake Plains Community Health Care Network, a nonprofit agency that fosters shared efforts to improve health care and keep it local.

It was implemented in January 2013. In its first year, it helped the two counties save $400,000 and positioned them for greater efficiencies, further successful integration and greater savings, all with no loss of health care services or jobs in either county. Since then, $400,000 more has been saved, bringing the total two-year savings to about $840,000. 

Read the full article.

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Telehealth Requires Infrastructure

By Rutrell Yasin - Federal Times

Federal agencies have applied telehealth technology in innovative ways to expand health care beyond the walls of veterans' hospitals and other care facilities. Current efforts allow caregivers to reach patients in their daily lives while clinicians and specialists can share and archive medical information.

However, going forward a much more robust, integrated architecture and networking infrastructure will be needed so information can be captured and shared securely and in real time, according to industry and government experts.

"What is needed is more expansive, open Internet access in rural areas. That is the major limiting factor for a lot of telehealth and telemedicine [initiatives] in rural locations," said Tim Hays, senior director for customer health solutions with Creative Computing Solutions, Inc.

"At least for rural health, that is going to be a big infrastructure problem that might not get resolved soon. But it is fundamental to increase telehealth work to those who need it in rural locations and that is a majority of our veterans." Both providers and patients need the ability to capture and send information from monitoring devices in real time, Hays noted.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

February 26: Impact of a Small Rural Hospital or Critical Access Hospital - 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 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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Resources

Right Side Up Falls Prevention
A falls prevention program for adults over the age of 65, with in-home assessments provided by interdisciplinary healthcare professionals and students.

Chronic Users System of Care (CUSOC)
A care coordination and case management program for adults with chronic substance use disorders, mental health diagnoses, and/or complex medical conditions who frequently utilize emergency departments and the jail system.

Rural Schools and Health
Visit this updated guide to learn about how rural schools can support the health of students and the community. Find school-based programs and strategies related to healthcare services, healthy eating, physical activity, health education, and more.

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Funding Opportunities


Loan Repayment Program 
The 2015 National Health Service Corps (NHSCapplication cycle is now open and will close on March 30, 2015 at 7:30 PM EST.  This Program provides loan repayment assistance to licensed primary care medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health providers who serve in communities with limited access to health care. There are both full-time and half-time service options.

Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program
This program offers four-year postdoctoral research awards to support physicians and dentists from historically disadvantaged backgrounds. Applicants should be committed to developing careers in academic medicine and dentistry and to advancing the understanding and elimination of health disparities by serving as role models for students and faculty of similar background.

Public Health Nurse Leaders: Leveraging Nurse Leaders to Build a Culture of Health
Application Deadline: April 17, 2015 (3 p.m. ET)
RWJF has provided the Center for Creative Leadership with funding to select and support a new cohort of up to 24 Public Health Nurse Leaders (PHNL) to develop their leadership skills and connections with key influencers in organizations and communities to build and spread a Culture of Health across the country.

Rural Recruitment and Retention Analysis Cooperative Agreement
Application deadline: Mar 9, 2015
Will award funding for research designed to identify and assess trends, tools, resources, and successful strategies used by rural communities to recruit and retain needed staff across key sectors of the rural healthcare delivery system.


Rural Health Value Program
Application deadline: Mar 23, 2015
Offers funding to establish and operate the Rural Health Value Program, which will inform rural healthcare providers and stakeholders about set policies impacting healthcare providers and the impacts of healthcare system delivery changes. The awardee will also offer technical assistance to rural providers seeking new approaches to healthcare delivery in their communities.
Sponsor: Federal Office of Rural Health Policy 

Community Economic Development (CED) Healthy Food Financing Initiative Projects
Application deadline: Apr 24, 2015
Awards funding to Community Development Corporations for projects designed to address food deserts and improve access to healthy, affordable foods. Bonus points will be given to projects that create jobs in a rural community.

Community Economic Development (CED) Projects
Application deadline: Apr 24, 2015
Offers funds to Community Development Corporations (CDCs) for projects designed to address the economic needs of low-income individuals and families through the creation of employment and business opportunities, including expansion or construction of clinics and health centers. Bonus points will be given to projects that create jobs in rural communities.

Rural Network Allied Health Training Program
Application deadline: Mar 31, 2015
Offers funding to develop formal rural health networks that focus on the recruitment, training, and retention of the rural allied health workforce. Networks must consist of at least three healthcare providers and must partner with an accredited two-year educational institution.
 

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Virginia Rural Health Association
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