New England Rural Health Association
November Newsletter
Organization News
Hello NERHA members & friends, 

As the holidays begin to approach, I always take the time to reflect back on the year and all the things for which I am grateful. As hard (and as long!) as 2020 has felt, I feel so glad professionally to have started a role I’m passionate about and having the support of new colleagues. I am so thankful for our Board of Directors, our partners,  our administrative support, Kiera, and all of you! Personally, I am blessed to live in such a beautiful place and to be surrounded by loving friends and family. 

However, I know this has not been an easy year across the region for almost all of us. One thing that has remained clear, is that the people of rural New England are resilient and protective of their communities and neighbors. When times are hard and people need help, we come together. I’m seeing in my own rural community as well as others across New England, plans to take care of, and provide meals for individuals who aren’t able to get out during this time. While this is a time to celebrate and be thankful, with the continuing rises in COVID-19 cases, we cannot forget to take precautions to ensure the safety of those around us. Please see below under “Resources” for recommendations from the CDC on how to have a safe Thanksgiving Holiday. 

At the New England Rural Health Association, we strive to be a positive place of learning and connection. So in order to address some of these pandemic challenges and promote wellness, we are excited to announce our next virtual event with Captain Christopher Bersani, PsyD. ABPP, who is a Clinical Health Psychologist and Neuropsychologist by training and currently serves as Deputy Regional  Administrator and the National Lead for Behavioral Health for the Office of Regional Operations of the Health Resources Services Administration. Captain Bersani will share  - A Wellness Guide: Staying Fit, Healthy, and Connected During the Pandemic. Registration information will be coming shortly and we hope you can join us on January 7th from 12-1 PM for this impactful discussion.

From all of us at the NERHA, we wish you and your families a restful and peaceful time and look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events.

Be well and stay safe,


Ann Marie Day
Executive Director

President's Corner

As I’m writing this, I am waiting on the phone to reach my primary care provider. I need a prescription filled which I called in a week ago, and it runs out tomorrow. It’s not one of those “optional” ones. I have my prescriptions filled out of state, and this one needed to be renewed by my PCP. Normally, no problem. Except in this case, the EHR for my physician network was recently disabled by ransomware. Apparently, the reauthorization for my meds got caught in the vortex.

<Pause… finally got through! Back in a minute.>

OK, I’m back. After a ten-minute wait I made it through, and the nice person on the line apologized profusely but explained that everything has to be done on paper. We got it straightened out—I think. We’ll see if the script to my local pharmacy makes it there. It sounds like even my little practice is swamped.

This makes me realize how far we’ve gone down the road on electronic health information technology, health information exchange, etc. More importantly, it illustrates how vital—and fragile—that system is, especially in the middle of a pandemic. I’ve heard about how this scenario has been playing out across the country, but it’s one thing to hear about it and take an academic interest, and another to be affected personally. The patient portal is down, so I can’t check on my appointments as I usually would. I nearly missed an appointment because I didn’t get the reminder call. My prescription got lost in the shuffle. How dependent we as providers and patients have become on it all!

Most of the “mitigation” strategies I’m seeing involve guarding against malware disaster by keeping backups off the grid and educating employees not to open suspicious e-mails. I’m not seeing anything about some “Operation Warp Speed” that will inoculate our healthcare systems against infection by virtual pandemics. And, once again, rural providers are even more vulnerable because they are smaller, with lower IT budgets, and less staff to support paper mode.

It all makes me wonder. What do the vulnerabilities exposed by these most recent attacks portend? Will things get worse? Are the malware guys getting smarter, more malicious faster than the cybercops and developers can cope with? Maybe an eventual solution, if there is such a thing, involve not more technology, but less. We can only harden our systems so much, apply patches and OS upgrades so often, store backups so deep. As with COVID, the response could ultimately cost more than the disease itself. Will we see ourselves regressing to a simpler time? One where the loss of a single system no longer threatens to paralyze an entire enterprise, and thereby the health of thousands?

So much to ponder. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.


My very best,

Andy

Member Spotlight

If you’d like to be considered for a member spotlight, please let us know!
Save The Date!
National Rural Health Day

What is National Rural Health Day?

 
In 2010, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) HRSA Exit Disclaimer created National Rural Health Day (NRHD) on the third Thursday of November, to applaud rural communities in their ongoing efforts to address the unique challenges of accessing and delivering health care services. Ever since, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) has supported this annual event, showcasing the work that is done across HRSA on behalf of rural health.
 

NERHA Virtual Event Series

Thank you Tanya for such a successful first session!

Thank you to all who joined! If you participated in the session don’t forget to fill out the evaluation form. Your feedback is important to us as we plan further events. 

Learn more and find presentation materials here!
 



Sponsor the Events!

Click here to visit our website and see how you can sponsor the virtual event series and work together with us to broaden your reach.

 
Native American Heritage Month

The HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) is proud to celebrate the rich history and traditions of American Indian and Alaska Natives (AIAN). This month, OMH will focus on the health disparities that continue to challenge the health of AIAN populations, especially as they continue to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and influenza season.

In addition to persistent health disparities, AIAN populations also face the following issues when seeking medical care:

  • Cultural barriers

  • Geographic isolation

  • Inadequate sewage disposal

  • Low income.

Last month, OMH announced the grantees for the State/Tribal/Territorial Partnership Initiative to Document and Sustain Disparity-Reducing Interventions. This initiative aims to address these health disparities and help improve health outcomes for AIAN populations and other racial and ethnic minority populations. Visit our Native American Heritage Month observance page for more information, downloadable materials and health resources. Learn More

Resources

CDC - Everyone Can Make Thanksgiving Safer

Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends are fun but can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. Follow these tips to make your Thanksgiving holiday safer.

The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer.

Time to Help Patients Get Covered: Open Enrollment Tips

Spread the word! The period to enroll for health insurance coverage in the federal Health Insurance Marketplace – Healthcare.gov – is November 1 through December 15, 2020. This is the 8th Open Enrollment Period (OE8) under the Affordable Care Act and it is unlike any other open enrollment period.

Millions of Americans have lost jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finding affordable, comprehensive coverage is more important than ever. Kaiser Family Foundation has a list of all exchange types by state. Please note that states with SBMs may have open enrollment periods that differ from the federal marketplace.

New Toolkit for Long-term Services and SupportsThe Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) developed this toolkit to support states’ efforts to rebalance long-term services and supports (LTSS), so there is an equitable balance between services and supports delivered in home and community-based settings relative to institutional care.  The kit includes strategies to increase the share of LTSS provided in community-based settings; tools to assist with policy and programmatic changes; case studies of innovative programs; and links to relevant resources.

As your Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC), National Government Services is dedicated to working with providers in the rural areas we serve. Our goal is to keep you informed about changes to Medicare and the training opportunities available to you. 

Our website has the information you need to stay informed. 

National Government Services offers a variety of teleconferences, webinars, computer-based-training (CBT) courses and live seminars throughout the year to provide educational sessions on Medicare-related topics including rules and regulations.

Subscribe to Email Updates to stay up to date with current information!
Provides details on how scores are calculated for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), one of two payment options under the Medicare Quality Payment Program. Explains the four performance categories that affect Medicare Physician Fee Schedule payments: quality, cost, improvement activities, and promoting interoperability. Includes specifics for small and rural practices.
NCTRC Telehealth Landscape Survey

The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers (NCTRC), consisting of 14 TRCs funded by a grant from the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth located within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is asking for feedback that will help us to assess the current telehealth landscape in your region, as well as to identify how your TRC is meeting telehealth education and information needs.  

 
Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey so that the TRCs can learn how to better serve you!

Report highlights the challenges of providing behavioral health crisis services to rural and frontier communities. Details the barriers to crisis service delivery such as lack of transportation, travel distance, and broadband access, among others. Includes a discussion on the effect of COVID-19 pandemic rural crisis service delivery.

Identifying and describing common factors and best practices of rural clinician programs and hospital-based obstetric units in rural communities is important as rural hospitals continue to close their obstetric units nationwide. Key informant interviews were conducted with leaders in three programs and communities in Baldwin, Wisconsin, Lakin, Kansas, and Russelville, Arkansas, with attention to their key features. The goal of this case series is to describe key factors that underlie three successful models of rural maternity care and to inform communities, clinicians, and hospitals that wish to keep obstetric services available locally.

Contact Information: Katy Kozhimannil, PhD, MPA, University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center, Phone: 612.626.3812 - kbk@umn.edu
Recent News

Rural Hospitals Brace for Increased Coronavirus Cases

Nov 12, 2020 -- As COVID-19 accelerates its spread across rural America, hospital administrators in rural Kentucky and Nebraska discuss how their facilities are impacted. Faced with staffing shortages, bed shortages, funding issues, and increasing volumes of COVID-positive patients, rural hospitals are struggling to keep up.
 



Multiple COVID-19 Outbreaks Linked to a Wedding Reception in Rural Maine — August 7–September 14, 2020

Reports on a COVID-19 outbreak that began at a rural Maine wedding reception and spread in the local community and to a long-term care facility and a correctional facility in other counties. Discusses the impact of noncompliance with CDC's recommended mitigation measures.
 



Research: Food Insecurity Is Worse for Rural Residents During the Pandemic

Nov 5, 2020 -- Summarizes research that shows 87 percent of rural counties had the highest rates of overall food insecurity. Describes that rural food insecurity was improving in 2019, but the trend reversed, intensified by economic issues worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
 



Evaluating Factors Impacting Medication Adherence Among Rural, Urban, and Suburban Populations

Compares medication adherence rates among rural and urban adults. Examines additional factors that may influence adherence, including age, income, education, gender, and ethnicity.

Advocate and Take Action

#Protect 340B

Community Health Centers (CHCs) are on the frontlines of the pandemic providing comprehensive care and helping prevent emergency rooms from becoming overwhelmed.

Recent drug manufacturers’ actions to undermine the 340B drug pricing program serve as attacks on and seriously threaten Community Health Centers’ ability to provide medically underserved patients with affordable medications and other critical services.
 


 

Proposed Updates to the Service Area Needs Assessment Methodology and Unmet Need Score: Webinar Recording Available

We’ve posted the recording and slides of the recent "Proposed Updates to the Service Area Needs Assessment Methodology (SANAM) and Unmet Need Score (UNS)" webinar on our Strategic Initiatives webpage. We used the initial UNS in the 2019 New Access Points funding opportunity to quantify unmet need for preventive and primary care services in proposed service areas. The webinar provides an overview of the initial UNS and proposed updates for the next version of the UNS, including possible measure additions, deletions, and other modifications based on feedback from stakeholders.
 


 

NERHA Policy Issue Submission 

The New England Rural Health Association utilizes our Policy Committee to take action around emerging issues affecting rural health. Do you have policy issues you’d like to share with us? Check out our Policy Issue Submission Form, which allows our members to share policy items with us that we can help support. This form outlines the key information that the Policy Committee needs in order to consider a policy issue for action. By completing this form you will be identified as the 'Champion' of the issue and will need to participate in the discussions and action items related to the issue. Thank you for partnering with the NERHA to protect rural health!
 



Interested in Policy? - Join our “Health Policy Happy Hour” committee meetings the 3rd Tuesday of the month from 5-6pm. Please email admin@newenglandrha.org to get added to the invite.
Funding & Opportunities

Prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Care for Children Affected by Them

Join a HRSA-funded, 10-session prenatal and/or pediatric ECHO® SAFEST Choice learning collaborative, which begins in March 2021. The prenatal cohort will learn how to screen for and counsel women about the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy. The pediatric cohort will learn how to identify and care for children and adolescents with suspected or diagnosed Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Participating health centers will receive a stipend, TA, and free CE credits. Priority areas: New England (MA, VT, ME, RI, NH, CT) & Upper Midwest (MN, ND, SD, WI, IA, MI).

Get more information about how to participate.
 



Connected Care Pilot Program

Funding for nonprofit and public healthcare providers to cover 85% of the eligible costs of broadband connectivity, certain network equipment, and information services necessary to provide connected care services to a patient population.
 



National Health Service Corps Students to Service Loan Repayment Program
 

Extended to December 3. The program awards up to $120,000 in loan repayment to medical, dental, and nursing students in their final year of health professional school. Clinicians interested in working at least two years in an underserved community should check their eligibility and apply.
 



Just one month until ACL's Social Care Referrals Challenge deadline on December 14

ACL seeks health IT solutions that support partnerships between health care systems and social care providers

Social services delivered in the home and in the community that prevent falls, address food insecurity and transportation issues, manage chronic disease, support employment and economic independence, reduce social isolation, and address other non-medical risk factors have been shown to improve health outcomes and reduce the cost of care.
 



Academy of General Dentistry Foundation Grant Program

Grant support for nonprofit community-based outreach programs that provide free oral cancer screenings and education to the public, especially underserved communities, that lack access to oral healthcare due to geographic and/or economic hardship.

Geographic coverage: Nationwide

Application Deadline: Dec 1, 2020
 



Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium Online Training

Offers no cost online disaster preparedness training for rural first responders. All courses are certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and some courses may require prerequisites.

Rural Health Network Development Planning: HRSA released the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Rural Health Network Development Planning Program (HRSA-21-021). HRSA plans to award 20 grants to rural communities as part of this funding opportunity. Read more.

Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program: HRSA released the NOFO for the Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program (HRSA-21-027). HRSA plans to award 60 grants to rural communities as part of this funding opportunity. Read more.

Upcoming Events

Staying Connected: Promoting Social Connectivity During COVID-19

Hosted by Tri-State Learning Collaborative on Aging

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m - Register Here
 



HRSA Virtual Job Fair and explore loan repayment opportunities 

November 18, 2020 from 6:45 to 10:45 PM ET - Register Here
 



HRSA: Introducing Telehealth to Rural and Indigenous Communities
November 18-19 

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will hold a two-day training event, including information about successful programs. 

For more information, contact Alisha Acker at AAcker@hrsa.gov

 



 NERHA & NYSARH Webinar: Suicide Prevention: Why Means Matter 

November 19th, 2020 at 1:00 - 2:00 PM - Click here to register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
 



Custom Learning Systems
The Top 6 Reasons Rural Hospitals Risk Closure and How to Avoid Them All  
Nov. 19th 4:00 pm ET  
Brochure & Registration link     

 


 

           Proactive Planning to Regain Lost Ground and Grow          

Dec. 8th  at 1:00 ET  Brochure – Proactive Planning to Regain Lost Ground and GrowRegistration Link



NIH Rural Health Seminar
Thursday, November 19 at 1:00 pm ET. 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will host a four-hour event online with a focus on challenges during COVID-19.

Join US
Interested in becoming a new member or need to renew your membership? Join the New England Rural Health Association now to take advantage of networking opportunities including our regional conference, members only networking events, and educational sessions.
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