The Branch

NOSORH Annual Meeting Planning Underway

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The 2019 NOSORH Annual Meeting that will take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on October 16-17 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Albuquerque. The theme for this year’s meeting is “Plug in to the Power of Rural”. This theme will be the guiding force while planning the meeting. You can also note the theme in the 2019 Partnership Invitation. The planning committee will be convening soon and your input is always welcomed. If you have any thoughts or ideas, please email them to Matt Strycker. More information regarding the meeting will be provided via email and posted to the NOSORH website as it becomes available.

Discounted rooms are available to meeting participants at the rate of $94 single occupancy or $114 double occupancy per night plus taxes until September 24, 2019. Use the code “NOS” to reserve a room online or by phone, Click here or call 800-445-8667. We look forward to seeing you in Albuquerque! If you have questions, please contact Matt Strycker or Trevor Brown.

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2019 Primary Care Office Training Academy Kicks Off

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Last month, representatives from 12 primary care offices (PCOs) attended the PCO Training Academy and Mentoring Kickoff meeting. The meeting, planned by NOSORH and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), was held at the ASTHO offices in Crystal City, VA.

The training academy brings together six selected mentors and six mentees as they undertake a formal mentoring experience. The kickoff meeting is the initial step in the mentoring experience where mentees are provided an orientation to the role of a PCO from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Bureau of Health Workforce. In addition, mentees learn about the PCO National Committee, traditional primary care access points, the evolution of primary care, and engage in a number of peer-led discussions leveraging the expertise of the mentors.

This year’s mentees come from the states of AR, DE, GA, ID, MS and VT. Experienced PCO staff from the states of CO, NE, NH, NY, TN and VA have been gracious with assisting their peers through mentoring. The PCO mentoring program is supported by NOSORH as a subcontract under ASTHO’s NOSLO Cooperative Agreement with HRSA. In addition to supporting the mentoring program, NOSORH also provides logistical support to the PCO National Committee and assists with the development of ASTHO resources for primary care and rural health issues.

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5th Annual National Rural EMS & Care Conference a Success

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The National Rural EMS & Care Conference, hosted by the South Carolina Office of Rural Health and the South Carolina Office of EMS, was a resounding success in Charleston! The conference brought together EMS providers, state EMS directors, State Offices of Rural Health and so many more. It is no small feat to pull off a successful national conference, and it wouldn’t have happened without a dedicated conference planning committee, a passion for the work, and the coordination of a small army of people. NOSORH, the JCREC, and the planning committee would like to thank all the volunteers, the host state, and all the people that made this year’s conference one of the best yet.

Kevin McGinnis, NASEMSO, reviews the draft Tactical Plan for Rural EMS with conference participants.

One of the attendees noted, “This meeting has benefited the state trauma program because it brings together not only EMS, trauma professionals, but also the rural health partners. The relationship between the partners is occasionally overlooked and this venue not only increases awareness, but helps to establish a foundation. This annual meeting may also help to educate and secure the relationships between ORH and EMS/Trauma/other time critical emergencies as the health department leadership can easily make the connection between the various rural health programs and their impacts on each other. Rural healthcare is often overlooked and this meeting increases awareness of the rural patient’s health disparities.”

Another said, “This was a great meeting for networking and discussion. The format and variety of sessions was great, and the speakers were all phenomenal – true leaders in rural EMS and excellent at providing quality education to attendees.”

For all the presentations from the conference, including information on a Tactical Plan for the Future of EMS, please click here. Also, be on the lookout for 2020 conference plans!

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Register Soon for the SORH Leadership Institute!

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State Offices are invited to register for the brand-new Learning to Lead: The Jim Bernstein SORH Leadership Institute! This 12-part, online Institute provides rural-focused professional development for State Office of Rural Health (SORH) staff in current and future leadership positions. Registration is filling up quickly, so be sure to register by Friday, May 10, to reserve your spot!

Check out the Leadership Institute Flyer and Leadership Institute webpage for additional information, including session descriptions, registration information, and pricing.

Don’t miss this unique development opportunity to enhance your ability to provide influential leadership and management within your State Office (and earn a Rural Health Leadership certificate)! Please contact Tammy Norville for more information.

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“Plug in” to Partnership with NOSORH

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You’re invited to “Plug in” to the Power of Rural by partnering and sponsoring with NOSORH! Whether you’re a long-time friend and supporter of NOSORH and National Rural Health Day, or considering partnering for the very first time, there are plenty of new and exciting ways to connect! The 2019 NOSORH Partnership Invitation outlines various levels of support, including a new opportunity to plan a customized concept as an Exclusive Partner in the NOSORH mission.

As you’ll see, NOSORH is exploring new approaches to building robust collaborative partnerships to improve the future of rural health. This is a chance to be a part of something bigger than an exhibit table or a “regular” sponsorship opportunity. Each level of support offers ways to connect you with new possibilities and increase your reach and visibility on the rural stage. In addition to recognition at the NOSORH Annual Meeting, you will become a valued partner in National Rural Health Day on November 21 and gain recognition through the activities developed to promote the #PowerofRural campaign.

“Plug in” to partnership with NOSORH and our mission as an investment in the health of rural America, the Power of Rural campaign and an opportunity to shine the light on the important work of rural health care! NOSORH greatly appreciates the support from partners over the years through various contributions. No matter what level of sponsorship you select, know that you will make a difference!

Please contact Ashley Muninger, with any questions.

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Promising Practice: Community Cafes in Alaska Give People a Say in Their Health Care

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Often the best ideas on community healthcare come from community members themselves—especially when they are engaging in active discussions with healthcare providers and others.

That’s the idea behind community cafes, sponsored by the Alaska State Office of Rural Health (AK-SORH), which are being held in small towns in the state.

“Last spring we told all our Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) that we can come to their communities to facilitate a conversation on whatever topics they want,” said Heidi Hedberg, AK-SORH Director.

The community cafes are set up to last an hour, with the first 25 minutes devoted to a presentation on a chosen topic. Attendees then break into smaller groups for discussion. “We have a facilitator in each small group and a scribe,” Hedberg said. “This is where we are looking for the community to provide feedback on the topic they were just educated on.”

Petersburg Medical Center (PMC) in Petersburg, a small town on an island in southeastern Alaska, was the first to sponsor a community cafe last November at the Petersburg Public Library. Jeannie Monk, Vice President of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, spoke on the changing landscape of healthcare in rural communities and how communities must pivot to accept these changes. Phil Hofstetter, PMC CEO, added his perspective following Monk’s presentation, Hedberg said.

“When we broke into small groups after their presentation, one of the questions we asked was, ‘As a community member, what healthcare services will keep you in your community?’” Hedberg said. “It was fascinating to hear what they want and what they perceive, and their thoughts on healthcare.”

AK-SORH held community cafes twice that day at PMC on the same topic. The morning cafe had 50 to 60 people, and the afternoon cafe had around 30 people participating, Hedberg said.  “It’s important that the cafes have a limited number of participants, because in a smaller group, it’s easier to draw out the quiet voices,” she explained. “You could have a town hall meeting, but it would be harder to have one-on-one conversations. In rural communities, the smaller the group, the more information you can draw out of them.”

Hedberg called the first community cafes “a fantastic start,” especially since they included a wide swath of community members. “It enabled us to see where their knowledge base was so that we can target our education and further that conversation,” she said.

PMC, which is Petersburg’s only hospital, is a CAH built in 1917 that was last remodeled 30 years ago, Hedberg said. “One thing we all realized is if Petersburg wants a new hospital it needs to be community-driven,” she said. “And we need to know what services they want so we can build it into that plan.”

The first cafes were such a success that AK-SORH was invited back to PMC in February to do another, this time on the promise of new telehealth offerings. The group experienced a tele-psychiatry visit through a camera, Hedberg said, then broke into smaller groups to answer questions including “what types of services are you looking for?” and “how much would you be willing to pay for these services?” Since then, PMC has launched tele-psychiatry services.

PMC helped advertise the cafes by making posters and putting them in local venues and promoted them on their weekly radio session and their website, which helped lead to their success, Hedberg said.

The idea for AK-SORH’s community cafes sprang from those sponsored by the state’s Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention (OSMAP), which visited more than 20 Alaskan communities “to educate them on opioids and to hold conversations on how to resolve the issue,” Hedberg said. “From that, a lot of communities formed their own coalitions and OSMAP created a statewide strategy plan drawn out of the responses from those communities.”

“This is not a new idea—it’s just how you organize it,” Hedberg added. “Consensus meetings, listening sessions, community cafes— there’s all different types of them, but for small rural communities, the cafes are a great way to have a structured format to both educate and receive feedback on any topic.” AK-SORH funds its community cafe work through Flex money for travel, and SORH money for staffing time, she said.

Since the cafes that were held in Petersburg, other communities have expressed interest in them, she said.

“It’s exciting when you bring a community together and through that relationship comes feedback, and out of that comes these new service delivery models,” Hedberg concluded. “We’ll continue to do these as long as communities ask us to facilitate these conversations on healthcare topics that are impacting the community—we hope to do these forever!”

Does your SORH have a “Promising Practice”? We’re interested in the innovative, effective and valuable work that SORHs are doing. Contact Ashley Muninger to set up a short email or phone interview in which you can tell your story.

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Make Plans to Attend NOSORH Annual Meeting this Fall

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Believe it or not, NOSORH is already planning the 2019 Annual Meeting! The Annual Meeting will take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on October 16-17 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Albuquerque. This year’s goal is to provide a more diverse meeting than ever before. NOSORH staff is looking to develop educational strategies that offer a variety of session types to be delivered in a new and exciting way. More information regarding the meeting will be provided via email and posted to the NOSORH website as it becomes available.

Discounted rooms are available to meeting participants at the rate of $114 per night plus taxes until September 24, 2019. Use the code “Group Guest NOSORH” to reserve a room online or by phone, Click here or call 800-445-8667. We look forward to seeing you in Albuquerque! If you have questions, please contact Matt Strycker or Trevor Brown.

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RHIhub Spotlight

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The RHIhub has a new Evidence-based Toolkit on Rural Philanthropy. Developed in collaboration with the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, this toolkit is designed to help rural organizations create and maintain partnerships with philanthropies. Includes guidance on conducting outreach, model programs, emerging strategies, and a wealth of resources.

RHIhub is hosting a webinar related to Rural Philanthropy on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 1:00 pm Eastern. This webinar will feature two rural organizations discussing their experiences with building relationships with foundations and will delve into some of the strategies outlined in the toolkit.

Two new articles are featured in the Rural Monitor:

The toolkit on Rural Care Coordination has been updated, created and maintained in partnership with the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis and the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center. Substantial revisions have been made to the Implementation module, which delves into considerations for workforce and staffing, different populations, quality improvement, and adopting a whole-person mindset, among other things.

Several of Topic Guides have also been updated:

Did you know?

The RHIhub features conferences with open calls for presentations each week in the RHIhub This Week newsletter, but you can also see the full list here:


Committee Clips

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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.

Communications- The Communications committee met to review a summary report and accomplishments of the 2018 National Rural Health Day event, including recommendations for 2019. The group will soon begin planning for this year’s National Rural Health Day and Power of Rural campaign.

Educational Exchange- The committee reviewed the plans for accomplishing the mentoring program and the new topical proficiencies rubrics, including workforce and EMS, before the end of the year. Due to President’s Day, a new date and time will be scheduled for the February EE meeting. Stay tuned for more information.

Policy Program Monitoring Team- Last month, the PPMT reviewed and made comments on Healthy People 2030 objectives and made comments to CMS on the Child Health Insurance Program. These comments provide a rural perspective to agencies and stakeholders. If you’d like to learn more about these issues and rural policy, the PPMT is a great group to join. The team meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at 3 PM eastern. To join the email list, contact Beth Kolf, Program Coordinator.

JCREC- The JCREC heard about the successful NAEMSP Medical Directors meeting with resources from that meeting being made public soon. They also heard about community paramedicine – mobile integrated health.


Rural Cancer Connections

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Rural communities, hospitals and clinics across the country are charged with the heavy responsibility of caring for patients with higher than average death rates for cancer compared to their urban counterparts. There are many attributed barriers which contribute to this disparity and the National Institute of Health’ Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences is dedicating resources to learning more about these disparities and how to address them. The Division’s Rural Cancer Control center funds cancer centers for some focus on rural research and other resources. Information on these projects and links to those centers are available here:


Thank you to Dr. Sobha Srinvasan, Health Disparities Research Coordinator, for reaching out to State Offices of Rural Health and their stakeholders to ensure these resources are available.