Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  March 28, 2016

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


March Newsletter





Seeking Student Reps

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.  

The VRHA Student Representatives to the Board of Directors are expected to serve as a communication link between the current leaders of VRHA and the future ones.  In order to meet this expectation, the students selected will need to interact with both the VRHA Board Members and students in a wide variety of health-related programs.

The students selected will help VRHA achieve its strategic goals, with particular emphasis on increasing awareness of VRHA and the benefits of VRHA membership among students.   

Whenever possible, the students selected will represent different academic programs/ professions.  This will be a non-voting position on the board.  Students selected will receive a complimentary registration and hotel room at the VRHA Annual Conference.

Click here for more information and the application form.

Applications must be submitted no later than May 13, 2016
Results will be announced on May 23, 2016

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Multiple Members in the News

From the Virginia Dental Association

Students are enrolling in Virginia’s first Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC) program preparing them for jobs in the growing dental care profession.

[VRHA member] Virginia Dental Association participated in a demonstration project with the Eastern Shore Rural Health System.  “The project showed that a CDHC could bridge patient barriers such as language, transportation, education, poverty, geography and culture to help connect patients to much-needed care and ultimately improve the quality of life for the community,” said Dr. Terry Dickinson, executive director of the Association.

[VRHA member] Nancy Stern, CEO of the Eastern Shore Rural Health System, said the demonstration project proved so valuable that the organization plans to hire a CDHC.  “The importance of CHDCs is that they will reach out to at-risk populations and assure access to dental care,” she said.  “CHDCs also will educate our most vulnerable population about the importance of receiving dental care.”

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Albemarle County on Top

From NBC 29

Albemarle County has climbed its way to the top of the Virginia Health Rankings. A new survey has the county ranked fourth for health outcomes. Albemarle doctors are proud to work in the fourth healthiest county, out of 134 in total in Virginia.

“It's great I mean I think we have high quality health care and we are focused on trying to do our best job with preventative health care,” said Dr. Daniel Sawyer of Albemarle County.


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Push for Expansion

By Sarah J. Ketchum - Daily Press

About 400,000 Virginians still don't have health care coverage, six years after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law. U.S. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Newport News, held a press conference in the Southeast Community  to note the anniversary and push for Medicaid expansion.
Many of the uninsured have incomes that are too high to qualify for Medicaid, but they don't make enough to purchase coverage. Those people drive up health care costs for everyone through the use of emergency services that often go uncompensated, Scott said.
"The only glitch in the (ACA) is that some states, unfortunately like Virginia, have not expanded Medicaid," Scott said. "Everybody in Virginia is suffering as a result of the failure to expand Medicaid."

Read the full article.

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Community Health Workers

From the Institute for Public Health Innovation

IPHI, the Virginia Department of Health, and a diverse group of stakeholders have been working diligently for several years to strengthen the community health worker (CHW) workforce.  This work gained further momentum as CHWs became incorporated into Virginia’s Health Innovation Plan, which was developed through the State Innovation Model (SIM) planning process.

The SIM design program is an initiative of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and provides financial and technical support to states for the development and testing of state-led, multi-payer health care payment and service delivery reforms. Virginia received a SIM planning grant to develop the Virginia Health Innovation Plan, coordinated by the Virginia Center for Health Innovation (VCHI).  VCHI awarded a subcontract to IPHI to facilitate the activities of the CHW Advisory Group, in partnership with Virginia Department of Health.

Read the full article.

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National News

Crisis Outlook

By Henry J. Cordes - World-Herald 

When Victor Lee, the CEO of Boone County Health Center in Albion, Nebraska, looks over the vast landscape of health care in rural America, he sees alarming trends.  Dozens of rural hospitals across the country have recently closed, including one in Nebraska. His own books show declining margins, falling federal reimbursements and ever-growing amounts of care delivered to patients with no health insurance or ability to pay.

Rural health advocates warn a crisis is rising across the nation’s countryside — one with the potential to ratchet up the Statehouse debate over whether to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income, uninsured Nebraskans. Nationwide since 2010, 68 rural hospitals have closed, the pace accelerating with each year. A recent study by a health care finance consultant also identified hundreds of other rural hospitals it said are in danger of closing — a list that includes 15 in Nebraska.

And the vast majority of hospitals that have closed or are on the critical list are in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid. Some rural health advocates say it’s time for Nebraska to join the 31 other states that have partnered with the federal government to extend the program to more of the uninsured.

Read the full article.

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Rural Doc Pipeline


Many people take quality medical care for granted. For those in rural areas, the lack of doctors can pose serious problems when seeking care.

“Rural physician shortage is a significant problem because people in these rural counties cannot easily access health care,” said MU School of Medicine Associate Dean for Rural Health Kathleen Quinn. “People in these rural communities usually put off going to the doctor because it’s far away, they have to take off work, childcare issues etc.”

At the MU School of Medicine, a program in place since 1995 is helping combat the problem.  Quinn said about 20 percent of MU Med School students take advantage of the Rural Track Program in some fashion. But, she said, it can sometimes be hard to find rural students who want a career in health care.
“A lot of students in these smaller towns aren’t exposed to health professionals, so they don’t have those role models,” Quinn said. “So one of things that we’re working on is exposing youth to health careers, preparing them for health careers and ensuring that they can succeed and can get through the rigor of medical school to therefore practice in these communities.

Read the full article.

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Lifeline for Cardiac Health

By Jeff Stein - Public News Service

Dr. Edward Zajac, a cardiologist with Cardiovascular Associates of Sioux City, chairs the Mission: Lifeline task force. He says Iowa's rural landscape can make getting quality care to rural patients difficult. The goal of Mission: Lifeline is to extend quality care to rural areas so outcomes mirror those in more urban areas of Iowa. 

"There needs to be a time period from when the heart attack begins to when you can do the most benefit in opening up an artery,” he explains. “For people who are in a more rural area of the state, there are some delays."

The Mission: Lifeline program focuses on equipping rural emergency care professionals with equipment to help diagnose and treat heart attacks before patients even arrive at a hospital. The program also provides education to the public. Zajac notes that many people who are having a heart attack think they can drive themselves to the hospital, but that actually can adversely affect their care. 

Read the full article.

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NRHA Events!

NRHA’s Annual Rural Health Conference, the largest gathering of rural health professionals and students in the country, is now flanked by NRHA’s most diverse lineup of events designed for rural health leaders, educators and their most underserved patients. Join experts and colleagues May 10-13 in Minneapolis.

Arrive early for the Health Equity Conference or the Rural Medical Education Conference on May 10, or participate in the Rural Hospital Innovation Summit May 10-13.

Register  by April 7th to save up to $200.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

April 6: BFCC-QIO Program webinar
April 6-8: National Health Outreach Conference - Roanoke
April 10-12: Mid Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center Annual Summit - Cambridge, MD
April 25-26: National Reduce Tobacco Use Conference - Washington, DC
April 26: Virginia Colorectal Cancer Roundtable - Roanoke

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Impact of Corporate Changes on the Health Center Program
BPHC recently posted a new resource to address certain corporate changes, such as how acquisitions and mergers may impact a health center’s federal award, and whether these changes meet the definition and criteria for a successor-in-interest to be recognized by HRSA. BPHC developed this resource to assist health centers in understanding the federal grants management requirements related to prior approval when such changes are proposed, as well as to highlight key considerations and planning steps prior to implementing such changes.

Better Breathers Club
Information on starting a Better Breathers Club through the American Lung Association.  Better Breathers Clubs provide support, education, and socialization to people with chronic lung diseases, their family members, and caregivers.

County Health Rankings and Roadmaps
2016 new report ranks the health of nearly every county in the nation and provides maps and charts depicting gaps between urban and rural health.  Defining rural counties as those with less than 50,000 people, the report states on the first line of its key findings that “rural counties have had the highest rates of premature death for many years, lagging far behind other counties.” The rankings use publicly available data to measure health outcomes, health factors and the policies and programs that affect them.  Three new measures in this seventh annual edition highlight the impact of racial segregation, deaths due to drug overdoses and the negative effects of insufficient sleep.

Mapping Medicare Disparities
New Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services tool to increase understanding of geographic disparities in chronic disease among Medicare beneficiaries.  Created  to inform policy decisions and target populations with the greatest need, the interactive map provides county-level data on 18 chronic conditions, Medicare spending, hospital and emergency department utilization, preventable hospitalizations, readmissions and mortality. 

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Funding Opportunities

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

Healthy Eating Research - Building the Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity
Supports research on environmental and policy strategies designed to promote healthy eating among children to prevent childhood obesity, especially among groups at highest risk for obesity: Black, Latino, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander children, and children who live in lower-income communities.
Letter of Intent (Required): May 11, 2016
Application Deadline: Jul 20, 2016 

Coordinating Center for Strategic Approaches to Improving Access to Quality Health Care for Children and Youth with Epilepsy
To provide support and expertise for grantees of the Strategic Approach program by setting a protocol and establishing a learning collaborative that shares evidence-based models, best practices and strategies.  Cultural competency for underserved/rural communities will be needed for program quality and to conduct ongoing assessment and evaluation in these areas.  
Deadline: May 7

Innovation in Care Integration for Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities Program
To support integrated care across systems to improve access to screening, referral, diagnosis and care coordination for all children within a state identified as at risk or diagnosed for ASD/DD.
Deadline: May 10

Strategic Approaches to Improving Access to Quality Health Care for Children and Youth with Epilepsy
To use health information technology, including telehealth, telemedicine and mobile health applications for outreach and education to families of children and youth with epilepsy.
Deadline: May 12   

Healthy Eating Research Grants
Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the findings are expected to support strategies to reverse childhood obesity, especially among groups at highest risk.  Of the $2.6 million awarded to establish a research base for healthy eating habits in children, approximately one-third will be earmarked for studies focused on rural areas, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and/or American Indians.    
Deadline: Applicants must first meet one of two deadlines – May 11 or August 3, 2016 – to submit a concept paper describing their study and, if accepted, will be invited to submit a full proposal.

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Blacksburg, VA 24060

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