The Membership Organization of State Offices of Rural Health
NOSORH publishes monthly Promising Practice articles to bring attention to the innovative, effective and valuable work of State Offices of Rural Health! Promising Practices help you learn about, share and replicate the incredible rural health initiatives happening across the country!
Promising Practice: Innovative Program Teaches Colorado Providers to Be Rural Leaders
Teaching rural providers to be better advocates for their patients and their communities was the goal of an innovative program conducted recently by the Colorado Rural Health Center (CRHC) in partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership. “Through the Rural Colorado Primary Care Leaders program, we worked to educate 48 rural primary care providers on how to create grassroots advocacy efforts in their community,” said Michelle Mills, CEO of CRHC. “The ultimate goal of the program was to create a peer network of rural providers in the state.”
Promising Practice: Community Cafes in Alaska Give People a Say in Their Health Care
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, which are being held in small towns in the state. “Last spring we told all our Critical Access Hospitals that we can come to their communities to facilitate a conversation on whatever topics they want,” said Heidi Hedberg, AK-SORH Director.
Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health Puts Focus on Rural Human Trafficking
Human trafficking doesn’t just happen in big cities in the United States—it happens in rural areas as well. Lisa Davis, Director of the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH), is working to bring more attention to this issue. Davis said her interest in human trafficking came unexpectedly, at a presentation given at a Pennsylvania Critical Access Hospital Consortium meeting in November 2017.
NC Office of Rural Health Helps Rural Providers Get Connected to HIT
Behavioral and other healthcare providers in rural North Carolina are getting connected to the statewide health information exchange thanks to the state’s Office of Rural Health Information Technology (ORH HIT) program. The ORH HIT program evolved from the North Carolina 2015 Health Information Exchange Act (HIE Act), which mandates that healthcare providers that bill for Medicaid or receive state funds for services must connect to NC HealthConnex, the statewide HIE, by June 1, 2019, to continue to receive payments.
Loan Repayment Programs in Nebraska Yielding Huge Payoffs
Loan repayment programs in rural Nebraska are showing huge payoffs: family medicine providers who participate in them are significantly less likely to leave small towns and rural areas than those who don’t. “We’re trying to maximize the impact and the opportunities for loan repayment in rural and urban underserved areas in the state,” said Thomas Rauner, Program Manager at the Nebraska Office of Rural Health (NORH). “So we are assessing how effective the programs are, and how are they working.”
Team Effort in Idaho Achieves New Funding for Physician Repayment Program
Remarkably, less than a year after the Idaho State Office of Rural Health (ID SORH) set a goal to find new funding for a physician loan repayment program, the state legislature appropriated $640,000 annually for it. “It’s something we’re thrilled about,” said Mary Sheridan, ID SORH Director. “I think it points to the reasons we take advantage of new opportunities, even though we may be unsure of the ultimate outcome.” That opportunity was a three-day meeting in June 2017, convened by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), on “Challenges and Innovations in Rural Health Policy.”
Texas SORH’s Handheld Ultrasound Project – An Innovative Approach to Providing Training & Technology to Small Rural Hospitals
At a rural hospital in Texas last year, a woman’s life was saved when doctors, using a handheld ultrasound device, determined that her abdominal pain was due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and were able to act quickly to address it. The hospital had the handheld unit on-loan as part of an innovative pilot project run jointly by the Texas State Office of Rural Health (TX SORH) and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). The devices, as well as accompanying training, were offered to Small Hospital Improvement Project (SHIP) hospitals in the state.
Alabama SORH Collaborates with VA to Provide Telehealth Care for Vets
A chance encounter at a local store sparked a telehealth partnership between the Alabama Office of Rural Health (AL SORH) and Alabama Veterans Affairs (VA). “A couple of years ago, I was out shopping on a Sunday night and ran into Dr. Randall Weaver, whom I hadn’t seen in awhile,” said Chuck Lail, AL SORH Director. Lail, a military veteran, already knew Weaver from the VA hospital where Lail has gone for his annual physicals. “I said to him, ‘We really need to get something going with the VA—I think there are good opportunities for telehealth.’ And he said, ‘Why don’t you call me and we’ll explore it.’ ”
Summits Tackle Opioid Misuse and Treatment in Rural Illinois Illinois is tackling the opioid crisis in its rural communities through a series of opioid summits sponsored by the Illinois Center for Rural Health (ICRH). “We realized there were no coalitions or groups working on opioid misuse in rural Illinois,” said Julie Casper, ICRH Director. “Community Health Needs Assessments have consistently listed drug use and addiction as problems in their communities, so making opioid misuse a priority was a natural conclusion.”
Michigan Center for Rural Health Plays Unique Role in Hospital Quality Improvement In the quest for hospital quality improvement, the Michigan Center for Rural Health (MCRH) is playing a unique role, serving as a liaison between independent Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) in the state and the state’s hospital association. “Usually we hear of SORH Flex programs subcontracting work to their local hospital association,” said Crystal Barter, MCRH Director of Performance Improvement. “This is the opposite situation—the hospital association subcontracts with our Flex program.”
Utah SORH Saves Rural Hospital by Obtaining GSDA Certification In his first week as director of the Utah Office of Primary Care and Rural Health, Matt McCullough faced a potential crisis: a Rural Health Clinic (RHC) in the southeastern part of the state was in danger of losing federal certification. Fortunately, McCullough found the solution—obtaining a Governor’s Designated Shortage Area (GDSA).
Reaching Out to Rural New Jersey Although most folks don’t think of New Jersey as “rural,” the New Jersey Office of Primary Care and Rural Health (NJ SORH) is working hard to reach out to the more than 700,000 residents who live in what the state defines as its non-metro areas. As part of that ongoing effort, in September the NJ SORH launched a statewide celebration, New Jersey Rural Health Weeks.
Rural Health Summits Bringing People Together Across Vermont to Exchange Ideas Bringing people together to learn from one another is the goal of collaboration—a goal that’s being achieved in Rural Health Summits held across Vermont. At the request of the Vermont State Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, leaders from rural hospitals and local public health district offices have co-convened the Rural Health Summits to explore better ways of sharing resources, information, and priorities.
Helping Rural Hawaii THRIVE Residents in rural communities across the Hawaiian Islands have been sharing their “stories of health” in community meetings as part of an effort to build a framework of health derived from community values and practices.
Advisory Group in Washington State Works to Bring Palliative Care to Rural Patients An advisory team run by the Washington State Office of Rural Health is looking at ways to bring palliative care to rural patients through telehealth and better community engagement. Palliative care aims to relieve the suffering of patients with terminal or life-limiting illnesses. But in rural areas, palliative care isn’t always available locally, especially for patients who don’t immediately qualify for hospice services.
Virginia SORH Taking Aim at Opioid Overdose Through lay rescuer training and the distribution of lifesaving kits, Virginia is taking aim at opioid overdoses in the state. Now it is increasing its outreach into rural parts of the state through the Virginia State Office of Rural Health.
Georgia SORH Looks at the Feasibility of EMS Regionalization in the State A study commissioned by the Georgia State Office of Rural Health is looking at the feasibility of regionalizing 911 emergency services in rural counties in the state. Between 2010 and 2016, six rural hospitals closed in Georgia, and others reduced their service lines in an effort to save money. As a result, emergency services were left to fill the gap.
Michigan Center for Rural Health Helps Rural ACOs Get Off the Ground The goal of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) is to reduce costs while improving patient care. The Michigan Center for Rural Health (MCRH) is helping two ACOs in their state do just that. “This is all about changing from volume to value in primary care outpatient settings for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries,” said John Barnas, executive director of MCRH.