Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  March 9, 2015

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities







Members in the News


[VRHA member] University of Virginia School of Nursing is taking to the airwaves around the nation to highlight a new initiative that aims to keep nurses from getting overwhelmed with the daily stresses of their profession.  UVA's Compassionate Care Initiative is dedicated to empowering nurses to help them to stay centered in their high-stress career.

"We have yoga several days a week. We have guided meditation several days a week. We have Tai chi. We have reflective writing and art and a massage program," said Compassionate Care Director Susan Bauer-Wu.  Baur-Wu says everyone benefits from more mentally and emotionally stable nurses.

“If they are less stressed, if they are more attentive, they are more likely to fully show up and be present for the patients," the director said.

Read the full article & watch the video.

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More Members in the News

By Jean Jadhon - WDBJ7

It's not unusual to see people sipping coffee or grabbing a quick lunch at 16 West Marketplace in downtown Roanoke.  It's a busy place at lunch time. What was a bit unusual this past week:  a dental chair in the middle of it all.

[VRHA member] Virginia Dental Association brought the portable chair to 16 West Marketplace along with a dentist to do oral cancer screenings and bring awareness to the topic.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

School Mental Health Screening

Last summer, Del. Joseph Yost, R-Pearisburg, invited educators, guidance counselors, school nurses and parents to a meeting to talk about his idea to begin screening all public school children for signs of mental illness.

“I told them what I wanted to do, and they freaked out. Not that they thought it was a horrible idea,” Yost said. “They agreed 100 percent. The problem is in the implementation.”  Who would do the screening? What tool would be used? Who would pay for it? What would schools be obligated to do if a child appears to have a mental illness? Would a child be labeled?

With too many unanswered questions, Yost said he decided to scale back his grand plan to one that could gain approval in the General Assembly. The result is that the state will study the benefits of offering voluntary mental health screenings in public elementary schools.

Read the full article.

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Dental Benefits for Pregnant Women

From the Virginia Oral Health Coalition

The final Virginia budget is on its way to the Governor for his signature, and it includes funding for comprehensive dental services for pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid and FAMIS MOMS.  The benefit went into effect on Sunday, March 1, and funding will remain in the Department of Medical Assistance Services' budget. 

For more resources about the dental benefit for pregnant women and perinatal oral health for providers and patients, visit the VOHC website.

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Health Career Pipeline

By Douglas Singer - GW Hatchet

The George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences is planning a partnership with Virginia community colleges that would bring students with associate's degrees to the school’s health sciences programs.

Students who have earned an associate's degree could enroll in the 2+2 program and take classes at GW to round out their health sciences training, a field with growing job opportunities as health care expertise becomes more in-demand, Joseph Bocchino, the school’s senior associate dean for health sciences said.

Read the full article.

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National News

NQF & Rural

By Brock Slabach - National Rural Health Association

February 5-6, 2015 NQF dove into rural quality issues for the first time by hosting the “Performance Measurement for Rural Low-Volume Providers:  Rural Health Committee In-Person Meeting” at the NQF headquarters in Washington, DC. The NQF is a membership organization (NRHA is a member) that gives its “seal of approval” to quality measures developed in the health care industry. In addition, CMS contracts with NQF to help CMS select measures that are used in Medicare quality measurement programs, such as the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) and Value-based Purchasing (VBP).

Rural providers have been negatively impacted by quality measurement systems over the years designed for large, urban tertiary centers and then super-imposed into the small, rural facility. The outcome was to have data that didn’t adequately measure what small volume facilities do and more importantly, yielded an impression to payers and the public that simply wasn’t true. As health care evolves into a value-driven environment, the need for low-volume measurement programs that describe what these facilities do and can make distinctions for payment purposes has never been higher.

Read the full article.

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NRHA Monitors ACA Case

The Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell. The question before the court was whether subsidies for the purchase of health insurance on an insurance exchange can be legally provided to people in the states that have not established state exchanges, relying instead on the federal health insurance marketplace. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) stipulates that subsidies are only available for exchanges “established by the state.”

As many rural Americans live in states using the federal exchange, the National Rural Health Association will continue to monitor this case and its potential effects on rural health care.

Read the full article and related article with Virginia-specific information from the Commonwealth Institute.

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Drug Pricing Fray      

By John Commins - HealthLeaders Media

The fracas between advocates for rural hospitals and the drug industry over orphan drug pricing affects a small number of rural and freestanding cancer hospitals. It centers on whether Congress intended to exclude safety nets from discounted pricing. Advocates for rural and safety net hospitals have stepped into the latest fray over the 340B drug pricing program.

Safety Net Hospitals for Pharmaceutical Access, America's Essential Hospitals, and the National Rural Health Association, have filed a joint amicus brief with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., asking the court to toss a lawsuit brought forward by the drug industry that would block some rural hospitals and cancer hospitals from discounted prices on "orphan drugs" that are used to treat common conditions beyond their orphan designation.

Read the full article.

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Closures Are a Clear Danger

By Michael King - Denver Post

Almost 50 rural hospitals have closed their doors since the beginning of 2010, with over half of those closures occurring in the past two years alone, leaving more Americans to trek long distances to obtain health care — sometimes with dire consequences.

Adam O'Neal, the Republican mayor of Belhaven, N.C., completed a 273-mile walk to Washington in July to shine a spotlight on the closing of his small town's local hospital and the impact on residents, including the death of a 48-year-old who had suffered a heart attack, then died while waiting an hour for a helicopter to transport her to the closest hospital — now 75 miles away.

Certain emergencies simply won't wait for a long drive or a helicopter flight. For example, after heart attacks, trauma and strokes, treatment must occur within the first hour to prevent loss of heart muscle and brain tissue, and troubled pregnancies often require a rapid response to deliver a healthy baby.

Read the full commentary.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

March 20: HIV & Oral Health - 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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Self-Measured Blood Pressure Monitoring: Action Steps for Public Health Practitioners
Million Hearts® released the guide to facilitate the implementation of SMBP plus additional support in five key areas: understanding the environment, working with payers and purchasers, working with health care providers, spreading the word to the public, and monitoring/assessment of SMBP plus additional support implementation.

Million Hearts: Cardiovascular Care High Performers
Highlights health plans and physician practices nationwide that have achieved excellent results in cardiovascular care.

How State and Local Health Departments Can Leverage CDC's 2015 Tips Campaign
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will share information about the 2015 Tips from Former Smokers Campaign, including a sneak peek of the advertisements, and a health department will describe how to leverage the national media campaign in a state or local setting.

Women of Color Health Data Book, Fourth Edition was released last month by the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health, which leads the development of this collection and presentation of data on race/ethnicity and disease. 

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Funding Opportunities

Rockbridge Area Grants
Stonewall Jackson Community Health Foundation is seeking grant applicants from the Rockbridge area health-related nonprofit groups.  The purpose of the foundation is to improve the health, welfare and education of the residents of the service areas of Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital with an emphasis on the health care needs of Rockbridge area residents.
The deadline for applications is March 31.

Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Grants 
Funding to support organizations that operate in the areas of education and health.

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
AFRI has announced the availability of more than $160 million in funding for research, education, and extension projects that address key challenges affecting U.S. agriculture production. The Agriculture and Food Research initiative will fund five requests for applications (RFA) that "will support several challenge areas: food security, water, childhood obesity prevention, food safety, and climate.

State Farm Youth Advisory Board: Service-Learning Grants Program
The State Farm Youth Advisory Board is composed of young adults who demonstrate exemplary work in service-learning, volunteering, and philanthropy in their communities. The Youth Advisory Board's Service-Learning Grants Program funds student-led service-learning projects throughout the United States and in the provinces of Alberta, New Brunswick, and Ontario in Canada. Grant requests must fall under one of the following issue areas: community safety and justice, environmental responsibility, access to higher education/closing the achievement gap, health and wellness, economic empowerment and financial literacy, or arts and culture. Public K-12, charter, and higher education institutions are eligible to apply. Nonprofit organizations are also eligible if they are able to demonstrate how they plan to interact with students in public K-12 schools. Grants range from $25,000 to $100,000. Applications must be submitted online by May 1, 2015.

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

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