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Introduction to the SORH Grant

i Nov 13th No Comments by

2019 NOSORH Awards Honor Rural Health Leaders

i Nov 5th No Comments by

Photo by Keith Clark

Congratulations to the 2019 NOSORH Award recipients! Awardees were honored at a ceremony during the NOSORH Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on October 17.

A special thank you to the NOSORH Awards Committee, co-chaired by Margaret Brockman (NE) and Cathleen McElligott (MA)! We appreciate all who took the time to submit a nomination!

SORH Award of Excellence
Arizona Center for Rural Health

Photo by Keith Clark

“In addition to improving access to quality health care services, this SORH is deeply focused on social justice and health equity. They demonstrate a true dedication to reducing the health disparities of the deeply disenfranchised and impoverished families and individuals in their bi-cultural and bi-national communities. They have also been working with state and local health and social services organizations to address such important and timely topics as the opioid epidemic, human trafficking, adverse childhood experiences, women’s health, innovative telemedicine use, border health issues, American Indian access to care, and behavior change for social good.”



Emerging Leader Award:
Kathryn Miller, Wisconsin Office of Rural Health

Photo by Keith Clark

“While Kathryn is not new to her position as a Flex Coordinator, and her coworkers have always seen her excellent work up close, in the last few years she has emerged on both a state and national level as someone others recognize and look to for leadership. As a leader, she is collaborative: she’s quick to help someone with questions, and lend her assistance on a project. She’s strategic: she keeps a real-time tally of invoices and payments on two federal grants for over 60 hospitals, so she knows which projects are withering and can reach out to add extra support, or see eventual failures coming and take action. And she’s able to flow with changes: as the Flex program has shifted to a primary focus on quality, added layers of measurement and evaluation, and as our purchasing department rolls out new requirements and documentation monthly, she rises to the continuing changes and keeps everything moving forward and the quality high.”


The James D. Bernstein Mentoring Award:
Roslyn Council, New Jersey Office of Rural Health

Photo by Keith Clark

“Roslyn’s calming presence and warm nature drew me in – her knowledge, support of the region, and expertise have been invaluable to me. Over the past year, she has taken me under her wing and showed me how to be a regional representative. Roslyn has been so supportive, from answering questions or reaching out to check in. Her ability to listen, observe, and understand the needs of those around her is incredible and it makes her capacity to mentor so effective. I am certain there are many of us who have benefited from her work in public health over the years.”



The Distinguished Andrew W. Nichols Rural Health Advocate Award and the Legislator of the Year Award will be announced at a later date.



Plug in to the Power of Rural this National Rural Health Day!

i Nov 4th No Comments by

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), its Federal, state, nonprofit, and other partners, invite all those who live, work, visit or return to their roots in rural America to thank rural health professionals and celebrate the Power of Rural on November 21, 2019. The “key messages” for National Rural Health Day include: 1.) Rural America is fueling an innovative rural health infrastructure; 2.) Rural America is a great place for mission-minded health professionals to provide individualized care; and 3.) Rural America offers a beautiful and challenging landscape, requiring unique approaches.

It’s not too late to get involved with National Rural Health Day (NRHD) activities! Visit the PowerofRural.org website for the latest news and events happening throughout the country.

Below are some fun, easy ways to “plug in” to the Power of Rural this month:

Spotlight the #PowerofRural on Social Media
Follow NOSORH on Facebook/Twitter and use the #PowerofRural in every post (and encourage others to do the same)! Download social media graphics from the toolkits. Click here to put a National Rural Health Day frame on your Facebook Profile Pic!

Join our Thunderclap
Help us amplify the #PowerofRural by joining the nationwide NRHD Thunderclap! Tweet the #PowerofRural at 11:21 am (in your timezone) on 11.21.19!


NOSORH/RHIhub Twitter Chat on Funding
RHIhub and NOSORH are co-hosting a NRHD Twitter Chat “Access to Funding for Rural Health Projects”. Join the discussion at 1:00 pm ET on November 21 by using the hashtag #RuralHealthChat!


NEW-“Key Messages and Data Points” Publication
NOSORH is excited to offer a brand new “Key Messages & Data Points” electronic publication for National Rural Health Day! The document features rural-relevant data under 3 National Rural Health Day key messages. Click here to view and download.

The Providers film screening 
This year’s National Rural Health Day will feature a special two-week screening (November 7-21) of the award-winning documentary, The Providers. The film is set against the backdrop of the physician shortage and opioid epidemic in rural America and follows three healthcare providers and their patients. Encourage your clinics, hospitals, office, etc to host a screening of the film as a way to celebrate NRHD! Click here to register.

Live web event featuring The Providers
A live NRHD web event titled “The Art of Telling Your Power of Rural Story”, will be held on November 21 at 2:00 pm ET.  Join this insightful discussion with Anna Moot-Levin, one of the film’s producers, and featured provider, Matt Probst, PA-C, from El Centro Family Health. Together, they will offer participants a window into the world of making the film and discuss the importance of storytelling to inspire more collaboration and innovation that leads to positive change, improves rural health outcomes and perceptions, and more. Registrants of the film screening and web event will be given a “Providers Discussion Guide” as a framework for having meaningful conversations about the film’s central themes. Additionally, registered participants can pose questions in advance of the web event. Click here to register.


Community Stars – Now taking pre-orders for hardcopy book!
Stay tuned for the release of the 2019 Community Stars e-book on November 21! This year’s publication will feature the inspiring stories of “Stars” from 44 different states who are making a big impact on rural health! Also, for the first time, the Community Stars book will be available in electronic and hardcopy format! Pre-order your hardcopy book today!


NRHD Toolkits available for free resources!
The PowerofRural website has easy-to-use online toolkits with resources designed for community stakeholders, including hospitals, clinics, first responders, and others who serve the health needs of rural communities. Toolkits includes logos, display advertising, social media, public service announcement and media release templates, and much more! We encourage you to share these tools widely with your partners. You can even make the tools your own by adding your logo and URL.


Rural Health Clinical Congress- Free CME Event for Rural Providers- Nov 23
In partnership with NOSORH, RME Collaborative is proud to offer the 2019 Rural Health Clinical Congress (RHCC)! The RHCC is designed to take the distance out of learning, providing high-level, practical education for rural healthcare professionals through a virtual learning environment. This free, multi-topic CME/CE event is specifically for primary care clinicians and registered nurses who care for patients in rural and underserved areas. The RHCC will take place on Saturday, November 23, and feature a comprehensive curriculum covering clinical, practice management, and patient-centric topics, including diabetes, heart failure, asthma, teledermatology, and dyslipidemia. The program will be delivered by rural and clinical experts through an interactive, engaging virtual platform. Click here to learn more and register for this unique continuing education event!


Walk with a Doc on 11.21.19
Invite rural hospitals, health clinics, and communities in your state to host a free Walk with a Doc event on NRHD. Walk with a Doc is a fun and easy way to engage communities in better health while celebrating the Power of Rural!


Nationwide Activities to Note
Organizations and agencies from around the country are hosting their own National Rural Health Day Events, including the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy! Be sure to check out their schedule of events and make plans to participate!

The Chartis Center for Rural Health will announce the 2019 Performance Leadership Awards on NRHD. Based on the results of the Hospital Strength INDEX from iVantage Health Analytics, the 2019 Performance Leadership Awards reflect top quartile performance among all rural hospitals in the United States in either Quality, Outcomes or Patient Perspective. The Chartis Center for Rural Health will be reaching out to SORH this week with a link to this year’s award winners and marketing resources.


Share Your Plans!
We want to hear from you! Are you planning an event on NRHD? Do you have a unique idea you’d like to share with us? During the weeks leading up to NRHD 2019, your event will be shown on the Power of Rural website. Click here to submit your plans.


Visit www.powerofrural.org for more ideas! Contact Ashley Muninger, NOSORH Communications & Development Coordinator, for more information.

New Issue Brief Highlights SORH SUD Work

i Nov 1st No Comments by

by Beth Blevins

Funding from HRSA’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) program has helped several State Offices of Rural Health (SORHs) recently start—or strengthen—their work related to substance use disorder and opioid use disorder (S/OUD). Those who receive the RCORP Planning grant have a year to create or strengthen a consortium focused on SUD/OUD. (HRSA currently offers an RCORP Implementation grant that some SORH have received as well.)

The new “SORH Response to the SUD Crisis” issue brief provides a scan of what SORH are doing to engage in the recent substance use disorder (SUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD) initiatives in their state.

For example, the South Carolina Office of Rural Health (SCORH) had never focused on S/OUD activities prior to receiving the RCORP Planning grant, according to Lindsey Kilgo, SCORH Director of Network Development.  For them the grant was “about how we can understand what’s going on in the state,” Kilgo said. “There’s been a lot of information gathering, a lot of consortium and office conversations, a lot of convening and bringing folks together.”

Forging Stronger Partnerships

While creating their consortium, the Virginia SORH (VA SORH) discovered new partners. “There are additional people at the table who might not have been there because of the consortium,” said Heather Anderson, VA SORH Director. “We added to the conversation and got community health centers and other folks that maybe weren’t involved before. We have stronger partnerships in the region.”

Anderson continued, “Because of our experience with the planning grant, another agency was willing to run with the implementation grant. So we said, ‘Go for it. You’re local, you know all the people. We will support you any way we can, give you technical assistance, and help you convene people.’”

For the Michigan Center for Rural Health (MCRH), the planning grant “has allowed us to really bring everybody to the table and wrap our arms around the importance of the challenges in those counties we are working in,” said Crystal Barter, MCRH Director of Performance Improvement. “I think everyone has really bought into it, whereas before everyone was working in their own silo. And now we are working as a consortium and starting to leverage the resources each organization has.”

Hanneke Van Dyke, former SORH Coordinator at the Texas SORH, also talked about the importance of community outreach. “It was important to use relationships we already had and having an openness to expanding relationships to new project areas,” Van Dyke said. “In both of our (RCORP) project areas, community advisory councils—made up of community members and community leaders who are there for every step of the process—have been central. Making sure we built in a few back routes tied back to the community was very important for us.”

No Prior Expertise Needed

When asked what skills are needed for SORHs to engage with S/OUD work, Kilgo replied, “Having the determination to make things better and to make change—and then not being afraid to ask questions, in an effort to build knowledge, partnerships, and relationships.” Kilgo added, “For folks who work in this particular realm, it requires a level of passion and commitment. And when you have that shared passion and commitment, the relationship and trust come fairly easily. We all have a common vision and common theme. We’re moving forward together in a positive manner.”

The ability to seek out experts was also key for Van Dyke. “None of us on staff had worked on an S/OUD issues or had any particular training or experience with it,” she said. “As project coordinator, I’ve taken it on to educate myself through reading and talking with experts. I’m not an expert but I’m pretty comfortable now, knowing who to go to to get the right information.”

Although the North Dakota Center for Rural Health (NDCRH) has been involved with S/OUD activities for the state for a few years, they had no broad expertise in their office when they started their RCORP work, said Lynette Dickson, NDCRH Director. “Our knowledge has grown and continues to grow,” Dickson said.

“Even if you are not an expert in the field you can still have an impact in this arena,” Dickson explained. “Because what we (SORHs) do is convene people, and reach out and find the resources. You can have more confidence that you can have an active role in this—you can convene and connect like we do with anything else.”

For more information, see the new NOSORH Issue Brief, SORH Response to the National Substance Use Crisis. A full spectrum of NOSORH resources to address rural SUD/OUD are available in the Rural Opioids Educational Resources library on the NOSORH website.

Promising Practice: Sowing the Seeds of Healthy Eating in Rural Indiana

i Nov 1st No Comments by

by Beth Blevins

Thanks in part to the Indiana State Office of Rural Health (Indiana SORH), rural residents in Allen County, Indiana, soon will have the opportunity to take classes on cooking and healthy eating through the HEALing Seeds program.

The Our HEALing Kitchen (OHK) program, which began in 2015 in urban areas of Allen County, in and near Fort Wayne, has been rebranded as HEALing Seeds for its launch in rural, said Laura Dwire, Community Programs Manager for the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation (SJCHF), which manages and is the fiscal agent for HEALing Seeds. OHK is cosponsored by SJCHF and Parkview Health.

Boys and Girls Club participants enjoy their OHK class.

“We knew food deserts were a really big problem in urban areas,” Dwire said. “But rural areas have the same low-access pockets. Some of our areas are 15-20 miles from a grocery store. Because it’s rural and their needs are different, we’ve adjusted the curriculum and rebranded it as HEALing Seeds.” HEAL stands for Healthy Eating and Active Living, she said.

The aim of HEALing Seeds is to provide the seven rural communities of the New Allen Alliance (NAA), a coalition of communities in east Allen County, training and education to encourage healthy cooking, increase access to healthy foods, and ultimately improve health outcomes within the region, Dwire said.

The program uses a “train the trainer” model, Dwire said. “We realized there has to be a trusted individual in the community that facilitates the classes because if I came in and said, ‘Hey we’re having public cooking class,’ the attendance would be low,” she said. HEALing Seeds offers a three-hour training for program facilitators and administrators (which can be the same person), and then facilitators deliver classes in their communities or organizations based on their schedule and timeframe, she said.

The HEALing Seeds curriculum is composed of eight sessions, with four to six recipes taught per session, “but the facilitator can bring in their own recipes if they meet the standard nutritional guidelines, and they can create their own schedules—whatever works,” Dwire said. “In the past some organizations have added exercise classes, yoga instructors, and mindfulness training, and some churches have tied it into Bible study. So HEALing Seeds is just the foundation for the organizations to build a movement.”

Celebrity judge, Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch (front row, holding fork), attends the first OHK Champion Cookoff competition.

Seven organizations in the NAA have agreed to hold the classes, including two youth centers, an alternative school, a community center, and a senior living community, Dwire said. “Originally the program was designed only for adults, but then we realized it was impactful to teach life skills to middle schoolers and above because they have the same health issues—obesity, hypertension, diabetes—as the adult population,” she said.

The project is part of the funding NAA received when it was designated an Indiana 2018 Stellar Community, said Joyce Fillenwarth, Indiana SORH Manager. “The purpose of the Stellar program is to encourage and emphasize collaboration among all community stakeholders in planning their vision for future economic and community development.”

“In 2018, our office approached the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and suggested that the Stellar Designation include a rural health component,” Fillenwarth continued. “Incorporating the community health assessments as a component of community-wide planning will improve the comprehensive nature of the process.” The Indiana SORH grant provides $75,000 (which was split between the two designees the first year) for projects that address health and wellness issues within the respective regions, she said.

Vickie Hadley, a Woodburn resident, facilitates an OHK class at Johnnie Mae Farm,  a partnership between the City of Fort Waynes’ Office of Housing & Neighborhood Services and Purdue Extension.

NAA chose OHK as the health component for their stellar designation application because it was already a success and was ready to go, said Kristi Sturtz, NAA Rural Liaison. According to Dwire, in the past four years, OHK has expanded to over 40 organizations and 1,500 participants.

The hope is that the program will be sustained after funding has ended, Dwire said. “We have chosen organizations that have the capacity to incorporate the curriculum into their programming,” she said. “We give them comprehensive skills to keep moving without our funding.”

As part of the move toward self-sufficiency, the grant agreement requires each class to have a celebration at the end of the program, which is planned, prepared, and served by the participants, Dwire said. “They can invite family, make a theme, whatever they want,” she said. “We ask that they raise funds for its cost so they can be part of the solution. We also suggest that they partner with a farmer or grocery store or local organization to support their class as well. We’re trying to make it theirs, give them the tools so they can go on.”

Dwire said that she would be happy to share the OHK recipe book and curriculum with any interested organizations. The recipes are available on the SJCHF website.

HEALing Seeds train-the-trainer sessions will begin in December, with the rollout of classes planned for 2020, Dwire said.

Challenges Facing Rural Communities and the Roadmap to Ensure Local Access to Health Care – John Supplitt

i Oct 23rd No Comments by

Challenges Facing Rural Communities and the Roadmap to Ensure Local Access to Health Care – John Supplitt

Rural Cancer Control Opportunities for Collaboration and Technical Assistance – Aubrey Villalobos and Joseph O’Dell

i Oct 23rd No Comments by

Rural Cancer Control Opportunities for Collaboration and Technical Assistance – Aubrey Villalobos and Joseph O’Dell

COPD in Rural America and the Resources Available to Help Support Providers – Caleb Siem, Kristine Sande and Paul Moore

i Oct 23rd No Comments by

COPD in Rural America and the Resources Available to Help Support Providers – Caleb Siem, Kristine Sande and Paul Moore

The RHC Accreditation Process – Thomas Terranova

i Oct 23rd No Comments by

The RHC Accreditation Process – Thomas Terranova

Incorporating a Rural Prosperity Index into the Opioid Misuse Community Assessment Tool – Michael Meit

i Oct 23rd No Comments by

Incorporating a Rural Prosperity Index into the Opioid Misuse Community Assessment Tool – Michael Meit