National Rural Health Day continues to be successful because of support from our members and partners. NOSORH is proud of the reach and impact this program has year after year as we work to bring new programs, ideas, events, and opportunities to celebrate the #PowerofRural – 2019 was no exception!
Below you’ll find a new fact sheet that highlights the impact of National Rural Health Day 2019 at the local, state and national level. Check it out!
Mark your calendar for Thursday, November 20, and stay tuned for the roll out of resources for the 2020 National Rural Health Day and Power of Rural campaign!
Thank you for all you do to transform this moment into a movement!
NOSORH is excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2020 Rural Health Data Institute (RHDI)! Designed to establish a minimum data-use skill set for rural health stakeholders, RHDI is a weekly series of eight, 90-minute webinars held Tuesdays from May 12 -June 30.
Participation in the RHDI is available to all rural health stakeholders that could benefit from advancing their data-use skills. Former participants have included State Offices of Rural Health, state governmental agencies, academic institutions, community coalitions and more. The curriculum for RHDI is designed for those with limited, or no, knowledge of the data use process, and will not cover advanced topics (i.e., rural suppression strategies, etc.).
Last month, NOSORH and 22 State Offices of Rural Health attended the National Rural Health Association’s Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. “NRHA did a great job of bringing together policymakers and rural stakeholders in a jam-packed week focused on rural health,” said Teryl Eisinger, NOSORH CEO.
During the week, NOSORH spent multiple days meeting with members and staff on Capitol Hill. With the prospect of major rural health legislation being advanced by Congress this May, NOSORH used the visits to remind Congress on the importance of rural health and advocate for continued funding for the SORH and Flex programs. It is anticipated in rural health circles that Congress could advance rural health legislation as part of a larger health package, including surprise medical billing.
A highlight of the NOSORH effort during the Institute was presentation of the NOSORH Legislator of the Year Award to Representative Kurt Schrader (OR 5th District). This award recognizes an outstanding individual federal legislator for their work and support of rural health initiatives that address national rural healthcare needs. Congressman Schrader’s district runs from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascade Mountains with 22 certified Rural Health Clinics, 6 rural hospitals, 17 rural EMS agencies and 2 tribal clinics. He is a leading member of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health and in 2018 was the lead Democrat sponsor of the State Offices of Rural Health Reauthorization bill.
The award was presented by Bob Duehmig, Deputy Director of the Oregon Office of Rural Health, during a meeting of rural Oregon constituents and members of the Oregon Office of Rural Health. “It was great to see Bob and his state team getting right to the heart of what matters in rural Oregon with Representative Schrader. Bob facilitated the discussion with each member of that state team ready with simple, meaningful input for Mr. Schrader,” said Eisinger.
Duehmig was one of the 46 state coordinators NRHA taps to help organize Hill visits during the Institute. Ten other SORH also served in this role. Thanks to the NRHA for sharing data and their great work of making our voice louder and building the momentum!
by Beth Blevins
“Come to supper!” is the invitation extended recently by the Virginia State Office of Rural Health (VA SORH). As a result, folks across rural Virginia have gathered to eat barbecue and discuss what is going on in their communities.
“We figure that people relax when they are eating, and that the conversation will flow a little freer than it would if someone is standing up in front of the room and asking questions,” said Heather Anderson, VA SORH Director.
The community suppers, based on the World Cafe method, sprang out of the SORH’s efforts to update the Virginia Rural Health Plan (VRHP), Anderson said. “We know what the data says, but we don’t know what is working in a community necessarily,” she said. “We wanted to hear from people we don’t always hear from—and who typically don’t get to hear from one another.”
“We already have access to people in the healthcare system since we work with hospitals and providers,” she continued. This time, she said, they wanted to hear from school district personnel, mental health professionals, business owners, and patients.
“We are trying to get beyond our typical healthcare sphere to make this a community-driven project,” she said. “We want to spark community involvement, collaborate where we are needed, and ultimately empower the communities to improve their health status.”
The suppers have been held “in places that reduce barriers,” Anderson said. “We don’t want it to be at the hospital necessarily but at the VFW or the library or a church, if that’s where the community gathers.”
They use local food, served by a community group, as a way of giving back to the community. “Since the first meetings have been held in Southwest Virginia, the local food has been barbecue,” she said. “Maybe by the time we get to Accomack (on the Eastern Shore) it will be seafood!”
The counties where the suppers are held (seen in purple on the state map, right) were chosen by using several data points, including Appalachian Regional Commission’s distressed county index, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings, and the Virginia Health Opportunity Index (HOI). “We felt like that gave us a state, national, and regional look at Virginia,” she explained.
Then they took the data, ranked the areas where they knew they wanted to go, and asked themselves, “where are we missing?” and “how can we engage the small business owner on Main Street and get their perspective?” Anderson said. “As the SORH, we want to learn what is working for the community, the hidden gems, not just what isn’t working, which is what the traditional data looks at. That’s how we could include a place like Amelia County, which is in the shadows of Richmond, but is still very rural. There are areas that get overlooked because they may not meet the federal definition of rural, but we consider them rural.”
As community members gather for supper, they are given the same three questions to discuss among themselves at each table: “Name one to two things that will improve the health of your community; what are the good things about your community; and what is wellness and what does it look like here,” Anderson said. “At the end we bring it all together with a local facilitator. The expectation is that we want to hear local things we might not have heard before.”
The community suppers so far have had an average of 30 people in the room, with a total of 120 participants. The conversations are being funded with Flex carry-forward funds, with SORH funds likely picking up some of the sustainability going forward, such as printing resource documents to distribute.
Anderson said that one thing they have learned already from the suppers is how faith communities are filling in service gaps in rural Virginia. “In Wythe County, we learned there’s a very strong food bank that’s been around for 20 some years that has blossomed into clothing and social services for people,” she said. “I don’t know that we would have found that out if we hadn’t had the opportunity to have these conversations.”
VA SORH is gathering so much information from the suppers that they will be using it beyond the creation of the VRHP, by sharing information about best practices and community champions in the areas they have visited, Anderson said. “Our SORH will take the qualitative information and promote a champion, either a person or an agency, on a monthly basis on our website,” she said.
“We’re hearing really wonderful things about the communities,” Anderson said. “We know they are lacking transportation, there’s an opioid epidemic, there aren’t enough providers. But we don’t always know what is working well—we are trying to get that out of these conversations. We’re trying to get people in the room that need to talk to each other. Sometimes we make things too complicated, and miss the boat by not talking to people.”
The Rural Health Data Institute (RHDI) is a series of educational webinars designed to establish a minimum data-use skill set for those working with rural health data. The sessions are designed for those with little or no knowledge of the data use process.
RHDI starts by throwing the term “research” out the window and defining terms in a way that everybody can understand. It moves through the process of collecting your data, cleaning it up, and analyzing it in a way that makes sense. Later sessions help participants work through the steps of crafting their messaging and displaying it in a visualized way so other people can understand it too. By doing very small “homework” assignments aligned to the data use process, participants will end the RHDI with a one-page infographic fact sheet.
The Institute is open to rural health professionals, including clinical, administrative and academic personnel.
Attendees will participate in 8 live, weekly webinars with supplemental reading and optional homework assignments. Session surveys and a final evaluation are required.
Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Spring Data Institute has been postponed. We hope to be able to offer it again later this year.
Contact Chris Salyers, NOSORH Education & Services Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Understanding the data points that characterize rural communities ensures State Offices of Rural Health have a solid base for providing technical assistance and targeting resources to areas of highest need.
The Manual outlines the following steps:
1. Defining rural for your state
2. Identifying your questions
3. Compiling your dataset
4. Answering your questions
Links to additional resources are included to further refine skills.
The Rural Health Data Institute (RHDI) is a set of eight 90-minute web-based sessions designed to establish a minimum data-use skill set for those working with rural health data. The sessions are designed for those with little or no knowledge of the data use process.
RHDI starts by throwing the term “research” out the window and defining terms in a way that everybody can understand. It moves through the process of collecting your data, cleaning it up, and analyzing it in a way that makes sense. Later sessions help participants work through the steps of crafting their messaging and displaying it in a visualized way so other people can understand it too. By doing very small “homework” assignments aligned to the data use process, participants will end the RHDI with a one-page infographic fact sheet to do whatever they want with it: hang on the fridge in the break room or, better yet, disseminate it to your partners!
Rural Health Package Being Considered by Congress
With the Senators preoccupied with impeachment hearings during January, Congressional staff continue to work on advancing health care legislation in 2020. In May, Congress will need to reauthorize or extend a number of health care programs whose funding expires on May 22, 2020.
The May 22 deadline creates a potential vehicle for Congress to pass broader health care legislation, including surprise billing, drug pricing and rural health. While optimism abounds off the Hill for a broad rural health care package, look for a narrower, more targeted package being unveiled by the Senate Finance Committee. The cost of the legislative proposal will play a factor with the more expensive bills most likely not being included.
On the House side, it remains to be seen if the Ways and Means Committee will introduce a broad bipartisan rural health bill. Members of the House Rural Health Task Force have been working on various rural health proposals with a timetable still uncertain.
With 2020 being a presidential election year, it is also unclear if both sides will work together to advance a more comprehensive health care bill to the President’s desk. The inability of Congress to advance surprise billing at the end of 2019 suggests rough waters could await politically for health care legislation in 2020.
Rural Health Bills Introduced in the Senate
In December, a broad bipartisan and bicameral rural health bill was introduced in the House and Senate. The Rural Hospital Closure Relief Act (H.R. 5481/S. 3103) seeks to allow a limited number of rural PPS hospitals to convert to Critical Access Hospitals.
The Senate bill was introduced by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Dick Durbin (D-IL). The bill sponsors are hoping the bill will advance as part of a broader rural health package being put together by Senate Finance Chairman Grassley. NOSORH, along with the NRHA, has endorsed this bill.
Also recently introduced was the bipartisan Improving Access to Health Care in Rural and Underserved Act. The bill, S. 3194, was sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV). The bill would create a five-year pilot program that provides funding for up to 100 FQHCs and RHCs to boost capacity in specific areas of medical need.