August 2019

i Aug 21st No Comments by

Crystal Barter
Michigan Center for Rural Health
Director of Performance Improvement
NOSORH Member Since 2009

Favorite thing about working at a SORH: The SORH “family”. NOSORH does an excellent job in building a community among the SORHs. I feel very grateful to have developed deep professional and personal relationships with many SORH personnel across the nation over the last ten years.

What I’m working on right now: Launching the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – Implementation funding. MCRH facilitated forming the Northern MI Opioid Response Consortium, covering 16 rural counties, under the RCORP-Planning funding and are now able to move the work forward with the implementation funding!

Best advice I ever received: “Good for her! Not for me.” Very helpful as a fairly new mom navigating everything you are “supposed” to be doing.
“Be part of the solution. Don’t sit around being negative and pointing out obstacles.”
“Surround yourself with good people.”
Oh, and “Enjoy the WOW that is happening now.” That last one is from my three year old’s favorite show, Daniel Tiger.

What I’m currently reading: I just finished “Love Thy Neighbor” and “In Shock” – Both excellent books focused on aspects of healthcare. I am excited to dive into “Save Me the Plums” which is Ruth Reichl’s (former food magazine editor) memoir.

3 great things about rural health in Michigan: 1) The MICAH QN. This impressive group of quality leaders take pride in improving not only their organization, but work together to lift all CAHs in Michigan. 2) The collaborative nature among organizations and stakeholders focused on improving the health of rural MI residents and teams. 3) My colleagues. The MCRH team is strong in their commitment to assisting rural communities on everything rural health. I’m so proud to work with each and every one of them.

Last place I traveled to: The beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If you haven’t been, it is worth a trip. I was reminded how accessible it was to see truly beautiful scenery, and how much of it there is in Michigan!

Who inspires you? At this phase in life, I’m really inspired by strong women who are making it work (whatever that means for them). This includes the likes of women like RBG, but also the women in my life who are navigating their own journeys and figuring out what happiness means for them. There are quite a few NOSORH women on that list!

Population Health/Health Equity

i Aug 7th No Comments by

Best Practice Guide for Engagement with SORH and CDC-funded State Programs

Social Determinants of Health – A Quick Reference Guide for SORH and STHO

RHIhub Spotlight

i Aug 1st No Comments by

RHIhub has published four new Rural Monitor stories highlighting the great things that are happening in rural communities across the nation:

We have published several new Models & Innovations:

In June we released a video, Preventing Farmer Suicide: Collaboration and Communication. In it experts discuss warning signs of suicide and how communities can help farmers and their families address mental health concerns.

We also published two new videos in July about philanthropies supporting rural health.

We have updated two of our topic guides:

  • Conducting Rural Health Research, Needs Assessment, and Program Evaluation – An overview of rural health research, needs assessments, and program evaluation, with tools and resources to support these activities. Discusses the roles each of these activities play in helping rural stakeholders understand rural health needs and identify effective interventions.
  • Rural Hunger and Access to Healthy Food – Information, resources, and frequently asked questions related to rural food security. Discusses food deserts, how to improve access to healthy and affordable food, federal nutrition programs, and funding opportunities.

Save the dates for our upcoming webinars:

Did you know? There’s an easy way to get information about rural health topics straight to your inbox. Sign up to receive RHIhub Updates & Alerts!

Rural Policy News – August 2019

i Aug 1st No Comments by

Appropriations Update:
On July 25, the House of Representatives passed a two-year budget agreement (H.R. 3877) that establishes the framework for Congressional spending over the next two fiscal years and suspends the debt limit through July 31, 2021.  The Senate is set to pass the House agreement this week and will be signed into law.  With the budget in place, Congress will begin work on passing fiscal 2020 spending bills.  The Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to release any of the 12 annual spending bills and is expected to introduce the bills in September.

The Republican-controlled Senate will need to pass, and then reconcile differences with the Democrat-controlled House, who has already passed 10 of 12 FY ’20 spending bills.  In order to pass the often partisan Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, Congress could pair it with the traditionally more bipartisan Defense spending bill, similar to last Congress (PL 115-245).  Fiscal Year 2020  begins October 1, 2019, leaving Congress only 15 legislative days to fund the federal government.

Earlier this year, the House passed their version of the House Labor-HHS-Education bill which included a $2.5 million increase in State Office of Rural Health grant funding over FY ‘19.  Also included in the spending bill is $59 million for Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grants and $19,942,000 for the Small Rural Hospital Implementation Grant Program.

Congress and Administration Focus on Rural Health Delivery:
On July 16, the House Ways and Means Committee announced the creation of the “Rural and Underserved Communities Health Task Force.” The purpose of the task force is to discuss the challenges of delivering health care in rural and underserved areas and explore holistic bipartisan policy options that could improve outcomes and care in these communities. The four co-chairs leading the panel will be Reps. Danny Davis (D-IL), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Jodey Arrington (R-TX). The Task Force held its first meeting on Thursday, July 25.

Also in July, the Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) awarded approximately $20 million in Rural Residency Planning and Development Program (“RRPD”) grants. Recipients across 21 states will receive up to $750,000 over a three-year period to develop new rural residency programs while achieving accreditation through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The RRPD program is part of HRSA’s multi-year initiative to expand the physician workforce in rural areas by developing new, sustainable residency programs in family medicine, internal medicine and psychiatry.

Rural Health Bills Introduced in July: 

Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA) introduced S. 2157 to amend Title XI of the Social Security Act to expand the use of global payments to hospitals in rural areas.

Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) introduced H.R. 3672 to provide relief for small rural hospitals from inaccurate instructions provided by certain Medicare administrative contractors.

Webinar – Resources Roundup (7/31/2019)

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Webinar Recording

Webinar Slides

Primary Care Office Needs Assessments

State and territorial Primary Care Offices (PCOs) must complete a unique community-based health needs assessment as a component of their funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW), within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). PCOs receive direct guidance from BHW that identifies differences between a traditional PCO needs assessment and a community-based health needs assessment.

This issue brief is intended to build foundational knowledge regarding the PCO needs assessment, highlight the components that are unique to PCOs, and offer resources on promising practices identified through publicly available needs assessments and public health organizations.

Issue Brief: Planning Conducting and Leveraging PCO Needs Assessments

June 2019

i Jun 20th No Comments by

Matt McCullough
Utah State Office of Rural Health
NOSORH Member since 2016

Favorite thing about working at a SORH: My favorite thing about working at a SORH is the statewide impact we can have and the many amazing people we get to work with throughout Utah.

What I’m working on right now: New interactive maps and public data sets to add to the Data Portal on our new website, as well as SHIP consortium projects, a strategic plan document and balanced scorecard measures, hiring new staff and putting on our 8th annual Rural Hospital Administrators Summit.

If I weren’t doing this, I would be…kayaking with my wife and kids or out doing landscape photography.

3 great things about rural health in my state: (1) Amazing people who care deeply about the work that they do (2) No hospital closures and few hospitals in financial distress (3) The Rural 9 network of independent rural hospitals that is having great success!

What I’m currently reading: Good to Great by Jim Collins

Last place I traveled to: Lake Powell, Utah

Favorite quote: “There are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”

RHIhub Spotlight

i Jun 4th No Comments by

The RHIhub launched a new evidence-based Rural Telehealth Toolkit. Developed in collaboration with the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, this toolkit is designed to help rural organizations that are looking to start a telehealth program to address health issues in their communities.

The webinar Introducing the Telehealth Toolkit will be held on June 5th. Tune in to learn more about the toolkit and hear from some successful programs about their lessons learned. Featured speakers include:

  • Luciana Rocha, MPH, Principal Research Analyst at the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis
  • Susan Maley, MPH, PhD, managed the Rural Veterans Health Access Program from 2014 to 2018
  • David Scott, MPH, PhD, RPh, Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the School of Pharmacy, NDSU College of Health Professions
  • Danielle Louder, Program Director for the Northeast Telehealth Resource Center (NETRC)

The Rural Monitor featured three new articles:

There are three new Models and Innovations now available:

  • Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline – The Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline is a free, confidential helpline available 24/7 for farmers and farm families to connect with counselors, help with daily living (like childcare or food assistance), and financial/legal advice.
  • Health Advocacy Summit – HAS provides free one-day conferences for young adults with chronic or rare conditions to access health and educational resources and build a community of peers and advocates.
  • My Virtual Clinic School-based Telehealth Program – An Indiana rural health association, four Rural Health Clinics, and several rural school districts collaborate to expand healthcare access to schools.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a progressive disease of the lungs that causes shortness of breath. With a high prevalence rate in rural America, it is also considered a preventable cause of death. Learn more about COPD and the efforts needed to impact the disease in our new video, The Challenges of Chronic Disease in Rural Areas: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Finally, on May 21st, RHIhub hosted a webinar with the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services on improving oral health care services in rural America. Speakers highlighted some of the current barriers to oral health care and reviewed the recommendations from the committee to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The recording, slides, and transcript are available on the website.

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Committee Clips

i Jun 4th No Comments by

NOSORH committees are great focal points for engaging in many NOSORH initiatives.  Descriptions of all committees and contact information can be found on the NOSORH website.

Board of Directors – The Board of Directors met twice in the month of May: during the NRHA meeting and on May 23.  They revised the Policy for Board responsibilities during NRHA and endorsed a new plan for the 2019 Community Stars effort. Maner Costerian reported on the annual federal audit and provided a clean report- “as good as you can get”. The Board formally commended Donna Pfaendtner, Administrator, for her exceptional work on the financial responsibilities of the organization. In addition, a policy for a new mentoring program for SORH Directors was approved. The Board also reviewed and approved draft comments for response to the CMS Request for Information regarding Geographic Population Based Payment model.

Communications- The Communications Committee met to provide input on the revamped Community Stars 2019 process, brainstormed possible presenters/topics for the NRHD webinar and reviewed their purpose statement to be sure it reflects the work they do. The June meeting has been moved to June 12 at 2:00 pm ET.

Development- The Development Committee continues to support Partnership Development and other sponsorship activities. The committee is reviewing its purpose statement and continues to discuss strategies to increase membership engagement. If anyone has potential partner and/or sponsor suggestions, please contact Graham Adams ( or Kylie Nissen (, co-chairs of the committee.

Executive Committee – The Executive Committee considered amendments and additions to the Board policies on the use of Executive Sessions, a policy on Diversity and whether the current policy on the CEO compensation and performance are needed. Recommendations to the Board that there is no need for a policy on executive session, the CEO performance review policy is sufficient and that the board should plan to study models for diversity policies in the future. The Committee will work with the CEO to review bylaw changes, which will allow for needed changes to NOSORH governance.

Educational Exchange The EE Committee met in May to review the future focus of the committee and revise the committee purpose statement; Chris has sent out draft language to all members, please submit feedback as soon as possible. The committee also reviewed the first draft of the Communicating SORH Value rubric. The committee will continue the discussion on the future focus and review the first draft of the Workforce rubric at the June 17th meeting.

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TruServe Update

i Jun 4th No Comments by

NOSORH recently hosted a TruServe Roundtable Discussion, to listen to the recording, please click here.

Reminder – Add the new SORH PIMS measures to TruServe! The webinar “Updated SORH Performance Reporting: PIMS Measures and TruServe Collection” was held on May 29. Click here for the webinar recording and materials. If you haven’t already, contact Mark to discuss getting the new SORH measures into your TruServe system.

Next training is:

Wednesday, June 26th at 2:00 pm Eastern.

Webinar link:

Dial into: 1-415-655-0002, passcode 921 776 408#

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