VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue November 21, 2016

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities

Newsletter available





Members in the News


Carilion Clinic will be showing off one of its newest sites to help people going through mental health emergencies. It’s at [VRHA member] Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Lexington. Two major groups see benefits. First, it helps people going through mental health crises. They don't have to come here to the emergency room, instead they go to the center.
The second group that benefits is law enforcement because deputies are able to drop off a patient going through a mental health crisis. Deputies can then go back to patrolling. Before, they'd have to wait with the person in crisis, sometimes as much as eight hours.

Read the full article.

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Take the Survey!

On October 18th, VRHA hosted a kick-off meeting for the Virginia Rural Health Telecommunications Consortium.  VRHTC will be working with rural providers to help them receive discounts on their telecommunications services through the FCC/USAC Healthcare Connect Fund.

Now we are asking all hospitals, FQHC, RHC, other clinics, SNFs, CSBs, and Schools of Nursing to complete the eligibility form so we can determine needs and gage interest in the consortium.

We encourage you to complete the survey even if you do not think you will join the consortium as VRHA will also use this information to compile a report for the Secretary of Technology.

Take the Survey!

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Virginia News

Va Aware

From the Office of the Governor

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the launch of www.VaAware.com, a new website developed as an informational tool for Virginia’s fight against prescription drug and heroin abuse in Virginia. As a recommendation of the Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse in Virginia, VaAware.com features specific pages for parents, health-care providers, law enforcement members and those seeking help with addiction. Virginia is actively working to combat this epidemic, as more than half of the recommendations made by the Governor’s opioid task force have already been or are currently being implemented. 

The website is the result of collaboration between four Virginia agencies: the Department of Health Professions, the Virginia Department of Health, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, and the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services. The site is hosted and maintained by the Department of Health Professions. 

Read the full press release.

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Volunteer Clinics


Sandra Cook got in line midday on a recent Friday for dental care that she wouldn’t receive until the next morning. Hundreds more like her showed up at Riverview Elementary and Middle School here, many planning to spend the night, just as buses brought kids home and volunteers arrived by the hundreds to turn the school into a makeshift dental, eye and medical clinic run by Remote Area Medical, a nonprofit charity program.

Many people in this southwestern corner of Virginia struggle to pay for everyday needs and that includes basic health care. Six years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and despite 20 million more Americans gaining health insurance, considerable gaps in health care remain.

Read the full article and related story from PBS News Hour.

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Switching Gears on Mental Health

By Sarah Kleiner -

Scores of Virginians have been pleading with officials for years to address gaps in the state’s mental health system, but the latest message from the state is one they have heard before: You’ll have to wait.

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has decided to abandon a pilot program that would have significantly expanded access to services for people seeking mental health help at eight of the state’s 40 public treatment centers, known as community services boards, or CSBs. The expansion was deemed to be too costly and ambitious.

State officials instead are working on a plan to make changes at all 40 community services boards, saving money by spreading the reforms over the next decade. The CSBs often function as the front line for Virginians in need of mental health treatment, especially for those in crisis.

Read the full article.

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Drug Disposal Kits

From NBC 29

If you have old medicine that needs to be thrown away, there's now a safe and easy way to do it. Take-home drug deactivation kits are now available to central Virginians with excessive or unused prescription drugs. The commonwealth is distributing these kits with the goal of removing 3.6 million unused prescription pills from Virginia homes.

Attorney General Mark Herring secured the donation of 80,000 disposal kits from Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals to health departments to combat Virginia’s opioid crisis. The kits are free and make sure prescription medicines are disposed of properly. Officials at the Central Shenandoah Valley Office on Youth say these kits also prevent the drugs from getting into the wrong hands.

“We want folks to dispose of their drugs so youth aren't getting them, then second to that is the environment. Flushing them down the toilet or burying them in the back yard is certainly not the proper way to dispose them,” said Kari Jones of the Augusta Prevention Department.

Starting next week, you can get a kit in Greene County, Augusta County, Staunton, and Charlottesville. Employees at the office locations encourage you to call in advance before visiting to grab a kit.

To see the nearest distribution site to your location, click here.

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National News

Rural America Speaks Loudly

By Alan Morgan - National Rural Health Association

The voice of rural America was loud during last week’s election.

Rural voters, like yourself, showed up in record numbers and truly shaped the election outcomes for both the White House and Congress. No matter what your political persuasion, it’s time for us to join our forces because the politically powerful are listening to rural America.
Now, more than ever, it is imperative you become engaged. Major health care policy is on a trajectory to change rapidly. The voice of rural health care must be loud to ensure assess and affordability to all rural Americans.

As our political leaders debate how to reinvigorate the economy and invest in infrastructure, we must also remind them that rural health care is the critical component to a vibrant rural economy. You cannot have a healthy rural economy without a healthy rural community. Quality rural health care saves lives, provides skilled jobs, attracts businesses, and reinvests millions back into rural communities.

Time is of the essence. While our rural hospitals and health care providers continue to provide excellent care with limited resources, we are in the midst of a crisis. Due to extensive cuts from Washington, D.C., 78 rural hospitals have closed since 2010. One in three rural hospitals is financially vulnerable; at the current closure rate, more than 25 percent of rural hospitals will close in less than a decade. Closures of this magnitude will create a massive national crisis in access to emergency services as well as detrimentally harm rural economies.

That is why I ask you to join me for the 28th annual Rural Health Policy Institute Feb. 7-9 in Washington, D.C. This, the most important Policy Institute to date, will provide an opportunity for us to deliver the powerful voice of rural to both the new Administration and the new Congress. And if you register now, you’ll save $100.

Rural America, it’s time to speak up. Washington is listening.

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Trauma Patients

By Lisa Rapaport - Reuters

Critically injured patients in rural communities are less likely to be treated at trauma centers than their urban counterparts, a U.S. study suggests.  Rural patients are also roughly twice as likely to die before they ever reach hospitals, researchers report in JAMA Surgery, October 12th.

There are several potential reasons why the majority of rural trauma patients with serious injuries didn’t reach hospitals or got care outside of major trauma centers: potential delays alerting emergency medical services, lack of proximity to major trauma centers, long distances for inter-hospital transfers, high threshold for providers in rural hospitals to transfer patients and patient choice to stay within their community or close to family.

Read the full article

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Infection Prevention

By Zack Budryk - Fierce Healthcare

Advocates have long protested that federal regulations unfairly penalize rural and safety-net providers for factors beyond their control, but new research suggests rural providers are ahead on care coordination and infection prevention. Researchers from the Department of Health and Human Services analyzed outcomes from urban and rural providers for value-based purchasing initiatives in fiscal 2015, including the federal Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction and Hospital Readmissions Reduction Programs, according to (.pdf) an HHS report.

On hospital-acquired infection reduction, only 14 percent of rural facilities were penalized during the study period, compared to 26 percent of urban providers. HHS officials attribute this in part to superior care coordination work on the part of rural providers, enabled by small referral and post-acute care provider networks that “can encourage collaboration across care types and settings."

Read the full article.

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Teletherapy: Benefits & Barriers

By Jon Frandsen - Pew Charitable Trusts

An acute need for more and easier access to mental health treatment and improvements in communications technology have set off a boom in remote therapy, but strict licensing rules and varying state laws are hampering its growth.
Like telehealth in general, using videoconferencing, smartphones and other technology to treat mental illness has long been recognized as an invaluable tool for getting care to people in rural areas, where shortages of psychiatrists, psychologists and other providers are even more acute than in the rest of the nation.
Now, telemental therapy — also called virtual therapy, telepsychiatry or telebehavioral health — is more widely available outside of rural areas and is seen as a way to address two crises that aggravate each other.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

December 16: Dental Care Approaches for Adults with Disabilities - Wytheville
February 5-8: Rural Healthcare Leadership Conference - Phoenix, AZ
February 7-9: 28th NHRA Rural Health Policy Institute​ - Washington, DC

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Appalachia Data
Every year, ARC uses an index-based county economic classification system to identify and monitor each county in our Region to illustrate which counties are considered economically distressed, at-risk, transitional, competitive, or have reached “attainment." This involves creating a national index of county economic status by comparing each county’s averages for unemployment, per capita market income, and poverty rate with national averages. With this data, we create a map illustrating the economic status of each of our 420 counties that helps our state partners develop effective grant proposals. Now, we’ve made the data behind the map even more accessible with our redesigned Data Reports page. 

A Prescription for Action
The report features recommended policies and programs that are designed to help local leaders address the opioid epidemic. These recommendations reflect several core convictions: that addiction is an illness; that although law enforcement is critical to an effective response to this epidemic, we cannot simply arrest our way out of a crisis of addiction; and that to stem the tide of this epidemic and combat the stigma that often accompanies it, we must build partnerships across our communities and with our counterparts at the local, state and federal levels.

NACHC Policy Internship Program
Internships in Washington, D.C. for individuals who are interested in improving health for medically underserved communities and the relationship between health centers and the evolving healthcare system.
Application Deadline: Nov 30, 2016 

Community Adaptations to an Impending Food Desert in Rural Appalachia, USA
Reports on a study examining how Alderson, West Virginia, population 1184, addressed the forthcoming food desert when the only grocery store in town closed.

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Funding Opportunities

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

AMA Foundation Healthy Living Grant
Provides grants for grassroots public health projects. This year's grants are supporting projects in in prescription drug safety education.
Application Deadline: Dec 16, 2016

Youth Garden Grant
Awards funding to schools and community organizations with youth-centered garden programs.
Application Deadline: Dec 15, 2016 

Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant Program
Grants to promote the planning and development of healthcare networks in order to achieve efficiencies; expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of essential healthcare services; and strengthen the rural healthcare system as a whole.
Application Deadline: Jan 3, 2017 

Economic Impact Initiative Grants
Funding to assist in the development of essential community facilities in rural communities that have extreme unemployment and severe economic depression.
Applications accepted on an ongoing basis 

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