Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  May 4, 2015

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities



Spring 2015 Newsletter




Deadline Approaching!

VRHA is accepting applications from students who wish to serve as a representative on the VRHA Board of Directors.  Up to five students will be selected for a one year appointment. 
 Nominations must be submitted no later than May 8, 2015 - download nomination form
Visit the Student Representatives webpage for more details.

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Telehealth Webinars

VRHA has partnered with WeCounsel to offer you a 3-part webinar series on telehealth.  This series will provide a high level understanding of what it takes to effectively implement a successful telehealth program.

  • May 19th:  will focus on the regulatory environment for Telehealth in the state of Virginia as well as at the federal level.  We will answer questions regarding how telehealth is regulated in Virginia, crossing state lines and the implications of HIPAA on telehealth providers. 
  • Date TBA: will highlight reimbursement policies for the state of Virginia in regards to telehealth. Getting paid is critical to any successful telehealth program.  Join us as we discuss the reimbursement landscape for Medicare/Medicaid and private payers in regards to telehealth, and how telehealth can be a successful revenue stream for your practice. 
  • Date TBA: will outline effective use cases and how to develop an effective business model for a Telehealth initiative. This webinar will cover exactly how to plan, develop and implement a successful telehealth initiative. 

The webinars are free to all Virginia rural health stakeholders, regardless of VRHA membership status - so feel free to pass this information along!

Visit the VRHA webinar page for details and registration.

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Members in the News

By NBC29

Nurses and nursing students at the University of Virginia say their jobs are not easy, but a few have found a unique way to cope with the emotional and physical hardships they face every day. For 13 years, [VRHA member] UVA School of Nursing has incorporated journal writing into the student curriculum.  Each year, the school holds a competition for all categories of entries. 

Each nursing undergraduate or graduate student submitted a poem or narrative from their personal journals that expressed how they experienced and dealt with a patient who touched their hearts.

The school says nurse turnover is among the most expensive problems the medical center faces. Trying to retrain or replace those who leave can cost two or three times a nurse's salary. So having the journals as an outlet is something the students and faculty say is essential.

Read the full article and view the video.

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Virginia News

Expansion Benefits Virginia

By Susan Perry - Daily Progress

The federal government, through fees from medical equipment and not taxes, has the money for each state to expand Medicaid — 100 percent for three years and 90 percent subsequently. Four hundred thousand residents would be covered at no expense to Virginia’s budget.

Del. Bell won’t vote yes to receive this money because he says that Virginia cannot sustain the expanded costs of Medicaid. However, I witnessed reports given to Virginia legislators that said the opposite. These reports came at committee sessions of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission, led by Del. Steve Landes. According to a report given by a health-care economist, Virginia would lose several billion dollars by not taking the Medicaid money and would gain several billion dollars if we did.

Read the full editorial and related editorial in the Virginian Pilot.

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Alliance for Rural Health 

By Allie Robinson Gibson - Bristol Herald Courier

The Alliance for Rural Health plans to reapply for funding through the Virginia Tobacco Commission, although whether that will be this spring or in the fall is unclear. Jake Schrum, president of Emory & Henry College and chairman of the alliance board, said the current plan is to not change the design of the project, which seeks to provide physician training and other health and professional education programs in Abingdon and Marion.

The alliance is a new entity formed from the former King School of Medicine turned Southwest Virginia School of Medicine. The King School of Medicine sought to locate an allopathic medical school in Abingdon, and originally secured $25 million in funding from the Tobacco Commission. Since that time, the project has changed perspective and scope, and in January, commission members asked that the alliance come back with a new application.

Read the full article.

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Close to Home

By Tim Marema - Daily Yonder

The amount of coal excavated using mountaintop-removal mining in Central Appalachia has declined by more than half since 2008, but mountaintop removal’s impact on humans could actually be getting worse in some areas, a new report from an environmental group says.

The study by Appalachian Voices says that mountaintop removal mining is occurring, on average, closer to human settlements than it was 15 years ago. The study also shows that communities near mountaintop removal mines are losing population faster and have higher poverty rates than similar communities that are not near such mines.

“Communities where surface mine encroachment is increasing suffer higher rates of poverty and are losing population more than twice as fast as nearby rural communities with no mining in the immediate vicinity,” the report said.

Read the full article.

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National News

We Should Not Forget

By Brandon Baumbach - Rural Assistance Center

“What is the one thing from the history of rural health that we should not forget?” Five rural health leaders weigh in important facets of rural health history to discuss how current leaders can prepare the next generation of rural health leaders by passing on history, lessons learned, experience, information, and passion.

Read the full article.

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Rural Hospitals Struggle

By Edgar Walters - Texas Tribune

It could have happened anywhere, but it was on the high plains of Guthrie, Texas — 90 miles east of Lubbock — where Dannie Tiffin suddenly collapsed of a heart attack last spring. No one knows for certain, but doctors and hospital staff in this rural area say they’re pretty sure the 62-year-old electrician could have made it, had he gotten care in time.

Since the hospital closed in Paducah, a town 30 miles to the north, patients in Guthrie have 60 long miles to travel to Childress for care. It’s a feeling of isolation that has crept up on other rural corners of the state following a spate of 10 hospital closures in the past two years. And financial data collected by the state and federal government shows revenue is falling for other rural hospitals, suggesting more may be on the brink.

Read the full article.

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Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center 

From the US Department of Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and University of Kentucky-Lexington officials announced the establishment of the USDA Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. The Center will use cutting-edge solutions in child nutrition to reduce child food insecurity in states with the highest number of persistently poor rural counties. Currently, about 85 percent of all persistently poor counties in the United States are in rural areas, and children are one of the most vulnerable groups living in rural areas.

With USDA's investment of $2.5 million, the Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center will administer and evaluate a series of sub-grants targeted to as many as 30 rural areas with high poverty rates in up to 15 states. The communities will use the funds to better coordinate existing child nutrition programs and create solutions to target child food insecurity. The University of Kentucky will partner with Altarum Institute and the Southern Rural Development Center to develop the center. 

Read the full article.

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Risk of Expansion Failure


Two southeast Kansas hospitals — one in Independence, the other in Fort Scott — are among several in Kansas that might have to close in part due to the state’s failure to expand Medicaid.  To prevent that, both are actively negotiating potential partnerships with neighboring hospitals. 

Even if agreements are reached, Medicaid expansion will remain a crucial issue, says David Steinmann, chief executive of the Independence hospital. He’s facing cuts of nearly $570,000 in Medicare reimbursements and federal disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments, which are designed to partially cover the costs of treating uninsured patients.

Those reductions, Steinmann said, would be more than offset if Kansas expanded its Medicaid program — known as KanCare — to cover more poor adults. He said expansion would generate an estimated $1.6 million in additional revenue for the hospital, enough to cover the anticipated reductions with about $1 million to spare.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

May 19: Regulatory Environment for Telehealth - webinar
May 28: Impact of a Small Rural Hospital - webinar
May 27: What Suicide Interventions Outside of Health Care Settings Reduce Risk? - webinar
June 4: Transformation in the Health Care Industry - Richmond
June 24: What Research Infrastructure Do We Need to Reduce Suicidal Behavior - webinar

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Suicide Prevention 
Toolkit targeted to rural providers has now been expanded.

Education and Training of the Healthcare Workforce 
This new topic guide discusses a wide range of strategies, programs, and technologies for training the rural health workforce. 

Swing Bed Reimbursement in Critical Access Hospitals
Recording of the March 19, 2015 webinar that reviewed major components of the swing bed program and concerns of methodology used in a recent OIG report. Also includes an overview of a swing bed program in Kentucky and the value it brings to the rural community.

2015 Rural Relevance Study: Vulnerability to Value
Authoritative assessment yet of the performance of rural and Critical Access Hospitals. 

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Funding Opportunities

Advancing Social Sciences-Based Research on Food Assistance and Nutrition Challenges in Rural America
Application deadline: May 15, 2015
Funding for social sciences-based research that explores the food and nutrition assistance challenges of residents (or their communities) in rural America.

DTA Foundation Grant
Application deadline: May 27, 2015
Awards funding to projects designed to increase access to oral health care

AHRQ Small Research Grant Program (R03)
Application deadline: Jul 16, 2018
Supports different types of health services research projects, including pilot and feasibility studies; secondary analysis of existing data; small, self-contained research projects; development of research methodology; and development of new research technology. Rural and frontier areas are considered a priority population.

Office of Minority Health Partnerships to Increase Coverage in Communities II
Deadline: May 22, 2015
Award Ceiling: $200,000 to $250,000
The Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the US Department of Health and Human Services announces the availability of funds for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 for the Partnerships to Increase Coverage in Communities II (PICC II) Initiative. The purpose of the PICC II Initiative is to educate racial and ethnic minority populations, including those that are economically and/or environmentally disadvantaged, and immigrant and refugee populations who are eligible for health coverage through the Marketplace, so that they better understand the Marketplace and receive assistance with completion of the application to determine their eligibility and obtain or purchase health coverage offered through the Marketplace. 

Creating a Culture of Health in Appalachia: Disparities and Bright Spots
Application deadline: Jun 8, 2015
Awards funding to research, document, and examine health conditions in the Appalachian region. Researchers should document health disparities; identify communities that have better than expected health outcomes; and identify community-based models and policy implications.

Semi-Annual Grant Program: Access to Care
Application deadline: Jul 31, 2015
Awards funding to projects that improve access to oral healthcare. Examples include screening programs, treatment programs, and dental clinics within a community healthcare facility.

Dr. David Whiston Leadership Program
Deadline: May 31, 2015
The ADA Foundation Dr. David Whiston Leadership Program annually provides two $5,000 awards to deserving individuals who have demonstrated leadership skills in efforts aimed at improving the oral health of the public. The award funds are designed to cover the costs associated with attending a leadership development program offered by the American Management Association. 


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