VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  September 18, 2017

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities

9-15-17 NRHD 2

Join the Office of Health Equity in Celebrating the State Office of Rural Health's 25th Anniversary! Like their page on Facebook  to keep informed about this event.





Congratulations to Virginia Tech student Haley A. Meade for submitting the winning entry in the VRHA "Why Rural" scholarship contest!  Ms. Meade will have the opportunity to read her essay during the VRHA Rural Providers Conference.

Click the event logo to the right for full conference details.
South Boston, VA
October 25 & 26

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VRHA in the News!

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded more than $200 million to 1,178 health centers and 13 rural health organizations to increase access to substance abuse and mental health services.

The Virginia Rural Health Association was one of 10 entities selected to receive the Rural Health Opioid Program RHOP).  VRHA will be using the funds to develop tools and resources for a High-Risk Patient Education Program for Virginia's rural hospitals and clinics.

If your facility would like to be included in this endeavor, please contact Program Coordinator Mindy Thorpe (540-231-3899).

Click here for the full press release and here for a list of all RHOP recipients.

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Members in the News

In addition to the funds VRHA will receive for the High-Risk Patient Education Program (see story above, 8 Community Health Centers which are members of VRHA will receive the Access Increases in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services awards.  VRHA member recipients are:

  1. Blue Ridge Medical Center
  2. Central Virginia Health Services
  3. Community Health Center of the New River Valley
  4. Highland Medical Center
  5. Piedmont Access To Health Services
  6. Rockbridge Area Health Center
  7. Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems
  8. Tri-Area Community Health
Click here for a list of all the Virginia recipients.

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Virginia News

Closing Patrick

Pioneer Health Services is announcing it will be closing Pioneer Community Hospital of Patrick.
"As most of you know, Pioneer Community Hospital of Patrick County filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on March 30, 2016 due to financial hardships,” said Jeanette Filpi, administrator of the Hospital. “Since that time, we have worked diligently to structure a sale of the hospital to maintain viable operations. Unfortunately, our best efforts were unsuccessful and we have no choice but to close the hospital at this time.”
While exploring the sale of the Hospital, the physician recruited in 2016 to lead the Hospital’s clinic submitted his resignation on July the 31st with his final day being September 30th.
Throughout the closing process, the treatment of current inpatients are the top priority for Pioneer Health Services, noted Filpi.
The Hospital closing schedule will be as follows:

  • All acute care patients in the Hospital right now will be cared for on site until they are stable for discharge or transfer.
  • The Hospital’s clinic will continue to see patients already scheduled.
  • Currently scheduled outpatient visits will continue at the Hospital through Friday the 15th of September.
  • The emergency room will be put on diversion.

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Anthem Returns

By Leanne Rife - Roanoke Times

Anthem announced Friday that it would re-enter the individual health insurance market in Virginia, restoring coverage for 70,000 Virginians.

"Since learning that 63 counties and cities would not have access to individual health plans, Anthem has been engaged in further evaluation and discussion with regulators to ensure that no bare counties or cities exist in Virginia," the company said in a news release.

Anthem in mid-August announced that it would no longer participate in the individual market except for three small localities. This left parts of Western Virginia without a provider. Two weeks later, Optima, the only insurer left in some of the localities, said that it could not cover the region.

Read the full article and related statement from Governor McAuliffe.

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Recovery Sunday

By Todd Pillion - Roanoke Times

Sunday, Sept. 17 marks the beginning of National Opioid and Heroin Awareness Week. On this day, churches and congregations across Virginia are invited to participate in “Recovery Sunday,” giving the faith-based community an opportunity to address an issue that impacts many of our families and communities.

Substance abuse is a crisis in Virginia and across the United States. We have seen and heard the tragic stories that detail the effects on families, friends, neighbors and communities. Many times, these stories hit close to home as we can relate them to someone we know who is struggling.

We have become good at citing numbers and statistics when talking about the opioid epidemic. While the facts are important to put this crisis in perspective, it is imperative not to forget the people behind those numbers. This is part of the purpose of Recovery Sunday.

Read the full editorial.

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National News

Stabilizing Premiums

By Diane Calmus - National Rural Health Association

The Senate HELP committee held the second in a series of four hearings on Stabilizing Premiums and helping individuals in the individual insurance market for 2018. This week’s panels included State Insurance Commissioners and a Bipartisan panel of Governors. Both panels included a robust discussion about the need for market stabilization in rural America and the unique challenges faced in the rural individual insurance market. NRHA is pleased both panels included representation from a number of rural states that were able to speak to these challenges and ensure the concerns and challenges facing rural Americans were included in the discussion.
NRHA worked closely with Senators on the HELP committee to provide information and questions, this information was utilized by a numbers of Senators and led to a robust exchange supporting the need for rural solutions to the marketplace problems.
Additional panels were held, including a panel on state flexibility and a panel of health care stakeholders. The HELP committee has indicated a strong desire to craft bipartisan legislation to provide market stabilization. NRHA has been meeting with Senators and their staff and providing information about the rural marketplace and the impact of the lacking stability within these markets. We will continue to monitor these hearings and legislation being developed by the Senate.

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HPV Vaccination

By Tom Howell Jr. - Washington Times

Most parents are taking their children to get vaccinated for sexually transmitted HPV, yet fewer than half of U.S. teens received the follow-up shots they need to be fully protected, the government said Thursday in a study that also finds rural areas are falling behind.

Sixty percent of children aged 13 to 17 received at least one dose of the vaccine in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s an increase of 4 percentage points over the 2015 uptake rate of the vaccine, which helps prevent cancers tied to the human papilloma virus.

However, the CDC says teens in rural and nonmetropolitan areas registered a vaccination rate in 2016 that’s 15 percentage points lower than the overall average. Health disparities in less populated areas often stem from the lack of doctors and health providers in a given area, yet researchers didn’t find a similar disparity in the uptake of the “Tdap” vaccine that protects children against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

Read the full article.

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Telemedicine for Assault Treatment

By Eric Wicklund - mHealth Intelligence

A new program in Pennsylvania plans to use telemedicine to help nurses identify and treat sexual assault victims.  The Penn State College of Nursing is using a Justice Department grant to launch the program through the Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Forensic Examination and Telehealth (SAFE-T) Center on the Penn State campus. Plans call for four rural health sites to be linked to the SAFE-T Center later this year in a pilot project.

Through the platform, nurses in those rural health systems can train to become forensic Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) or connect in real-time with a trained SANE provider when a patient visits the health system.

The benefits of real-time communication on a secure video network are becoming attractive to health systems, schools and courts in rural locations across the country. Many are looking for a link to expert advice when faced with sensitive issues like abuse or neglect.

Read the full article.

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Aging Volunteers

By Frank Morris - NPR

If you pull a fire alarm in any large U.S. city, it's likely that paid firefighters waiting at a nearby station will quickly respond. But seven out of 10 American firefighters are actually volunteers. They cover vast sections of the country, making up an aging network that is increasingly understaffed and overworked.

Volunteers keep fires from getting out of hand in most rural communities, and many of these departments are barely hanging on. It's not uncommon these days to find rural firefighters in their 60s or 70s. According to the National Volunteer Fire Council, about a third of small town volunteer firefighters are now over 50. That's double the number in the 1980s. And while volunteer firefighters are trending older, they are answering many more calls.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

September 21: Financial Distress and Closures of Rural Hospitals - webinar
September 25 & 26: The Governor's Summit on Rural Prosperity - South Boston, VA
September 26: Rural Tobacco Control and Prevention - webinar
October 24 & 25: Rural Health Documentation & Coding Bootcamp  - South Boston, VA
October 25 & 26: Virginia Rural Providers Conference - South Boston, VA
November 12 & 13: Virginia Telehealth Network Summit - Richmond

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Disability in America
Maps are based on demographic data collected through the American Community Survey and cover disability rates, rates of particular types of disabilities, and other status of people with disabilities such as poverty and employment. 

NQF: Assessing Telehealth and Ways to Measure Quality
The National Quality Forum (NQF) issued two reports identifying ways to measure the impact and value of telehealth services and to assess the current state of interoperability. For the first report, Creating a Framework to Support Measure Development for Telehealth, the committee identified six high priority areas for measuring telehealth quality, including travel time saved, patient empowerment, and value added to evidence-based practices. The second,  Interoperability 2016-2017, examines the ability of health systems and IT domains to access, use and exchange information electronically and provides a set of guiding principles for measuring quality as interoperability progresses.

Applied Suicide Skills Training
ASIST is a two-day interactive workshop in suicide first aid. ASIST teaches participants to recognize when someone may have thoughts of suicide and work with them to create a plan that will support their immediate safety. Although ASIST is widely used by healthcare providers, participants don't need any formal training to attend the workshop. ASIST helps to build regional networks of trained caregivers who can support each and use common terminology to approach suicide and safety.

Researching Health Behavior for Young People
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) seeks innovative research identifying mechanisms of influence for promoting positive and sustainable health behaviors in young people from birth to age 21.  Applications from state, county or city governments, institutions of higher education, and Native American tribal governments among other eligible organizations should target social and cultural factors and appropriate stages of influence for learning lifelong health behaviors.  NIH strongly encourages applications from multidisciplinary teams that can address the many factors involved in health behaviors. Rural providers and stakeholders can use the AHRQ Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit to better understand how culture and beliefs affect health decisions.
Deadline: January 7


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Funding Opportunities

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

Mentorships for individuals who are currently in the health tech space, or want to be, and are part of an underrepresented group in health tech. Mentees may have an idea they want to bounce off of someone who has been there before, is in the process of creating a new technology or is just beginning their career and looking for direction.  Mentees understand the need to diversify health tech and want to be part of changing the health tech landscape. Individuals who are new to health tech, or have a new idea, are encouraged to apply.
Deadline: October 18

Culture of Health Prize
Recognizes communities that have placed a priority on health and are creating powerful partnerships and deep commitments that will enable everyone, especially those facing the greatest barriers to good health, the opportunity to live well. A Culture of Health recognizes that health and well-being are greatly influenced by where we live, learn, work, and play; the safety of our surroundings; and the relationships we have in our families and communities. The Prize elevates the compelling stories of local leaders and community members who together are transforming neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and more—so that better health flourishes everywhere.
Deadline: November 3

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows program
An outstanding non-partisan opportunity that offers exclusive, hands-on policy experience with the most influential congressional and executive offices in our nation's capital. Fellows participate in the policy process at the federal level and use that leadership experience to improve health, health care, and health policy while advancing their own careers.
Deadline: November 15

Health Impact Project 
The Project seeks partners who work nationally, regionally, in multiple states, or at the state level to implement systems and policy changes that have the potential to improve social determinants of health and health equity. Applicants will present potential systems-wide changes that can occur in the 18-month timeframe, either internal to their organization or in systems outside of their organization that they can influence. The Project will collaborate to support that change, as well as provide limited funding. Competitive partners will have demonstrated commitment to the change and have dedicated resources to the initiative, but seek support from the Project to design, implement, disseminate, translate, or replicate the approach to embed health considerations in another sector.
Deadline: October 16

NIH Health Disparities Research Loan Repayment Program
Offers loan repayment assistance for health professionals who commit to research projects related to health disparities.
Application Deadline: Nov 15, 2017 

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