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!
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.
Screening Program in Connecticut Works to Stem Drug Abuse and Misuse Like many other states, Connecticut is facing a drug crisis. The number of drug overdoses in the state nearly doubled between 2014 and 2015. More people die there from drug overdoses than from car accidents or firearms. To combat this, the CT SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment) program is training students who are enrolled in health profession programs to screen for substance misuse and to refer patients for treatment.
Pennsylvania SORH Coordinates Unique Agricultural Worker Safety Program For the last 12 years, Jim Harvey has been “poking along the back roads” of Pennsylvania, visiting agricultural producers across the state. The visits are both friendly and educational. Harvey, the state’s Rural Health Farm Worker Protection Safety Specialist, is there to teach farmers about the safe storage and use of agricultural pesticides, and to help them comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which aims to reduce the risk of pesticide poisoning and injury.
Kansas SORH Builds Internal Partnership to Reach RHCs What started with a simple conversation between two programs within the same bureau, has turned into an annual rural health clinic statewide survey with an incredible response rate. Since 2013, the Kansas State Office of Primary Care and Rural Health has partnered with the Kansas Health Facilities Program to survey the more than 160 rural health clinics across the state.
Wyoming Telehealth Network In July 2015, the Wyoming Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health, through the Wyoming Telehealth Network (WyTN), began offering telehealth technical assistance grants with the goal of connecting rural Wyoming facilities to telehealth services.
Arizona:Partnering Toward Success The work of the Arizona SORH was recently highlighted by 3RNet for their exceptional collaboration with other state partners using the state 3RNet membership to work on improving access to health care in rural and underserved areas across the state.
Wisconsin Recognizes Need to Engage Girls in EMS Rescue Divas is a camp for middle-school girls that aims to attract new recruits to the field of emergency medical services. The Ashland Bayfield county areas, like many rural areas, has a difficult time recruiting volunteers for EMS services. They decided to change their focus to recruiting women, who are underserved in EMS, and to develop a pipeline system, getting girls interested in becoming EMTs or working in emergency medicine.