The Branch
A monthly update for NOSORH members and partners
August 2020
NOSORH Virtual Annual Meeting is Next Month!
NOSORH is excited to be going virtual this year and strives to keep the meeting as much like an in-person meeting as possible. In addition to a great agenda, there will be games, a reception, a virtual hallway to hang out with colleagues in between sessions, and an interactive meeting app. Each attendee will have their own personal login and will be able to hop from session to session and interact with other participants. In addition, each NOSORH investing partner will have a virtual “booth” where you can see information about them, their “hours” when they will be available, and any resources they choose to provide. Be sure to get a group together to meet with these partners and create those virtual connections!

If your State Office hasn’t registered, please click here. The registration cost is based upon the size of your office listed in the NOSORH member directory. Attendees will need to be registered individually within your SORH registration and each attendee will be given their own login information prior to the meeting. If you have any questions, please contact Matt Strycker or Trevor Brown. “See” you all September 29-October 1!
Community Star Nominations Close August 7
We need your help to reach our goal of featuring a Star from each of the 50 states! Do you know an individual, group, or organization making a big difference in rural health? Nominate them for consideration to be included in the 2020 Community Stars book! This annual publication will be released on National Rural Health Day - November 19. Click here to learn more and nominate. Nominations close Friday, August 7.
New NRHD Community Engagement Toolkit Now Available
Join NOSORH, the 50 State Offices of Rural Health, and rural health stakeholders from across the country in celebration of the 10th annual National Rural Health Day on November 19, 2020! Visit the National Rural Health Day headquarters at powerofrural.org for everything you need to start planning. NEW to the site is the 2020 Community Engagement Toolkit full of free, downloadable, customizable tools, such as posters, coloring books, postcards, graphics, PowerPoint templates, and more! These tools can help enhance your community outreach efforts to schools, media, businesses, etc. Stay tuned for the rollout of some new NRHD swag for purchase and additional announcements and resources. Also, if you haven’t yet, be sure to take the Power of Rural Pledge.
NOSORH Award Nominations Closing Soon
The deadline for 2020 NOSORH Award nominations is quickly approaching! These annual awards are a special opportunity to recognize the incredible work and leadership of individuals and organizations dedicated to rural health. There are 5 different award categories for NOSORH members (and non-members!): SORH Award of Excellence, James Bernstein Mentoring Award, Emerging Leader Award, Andrew Nichols Rural Health Advocate Award, and Legislator of the Year. Click here to submit your nomination by Friday, August 7
Partner with NOSORH and Join the 2020 Focus
NOSORH is searching for partners to join our “2020 Focus” by collaborating and investing in our mission. This year’s Partnership Invitation highlights various levels of partnerships and many opportunities for recognition and engagement – including National Rural Health Day. For the 2020 Annual Meeting, we hope to see you in your own virtual “booth”, engaging with SORH in our unique e-networking activities. Contact Ashley Muninger, NOSORH Communications and Development Coordinator, for more information.
Reintroducing the RHC Education Series Module 3
NOSORH is excited to announce the re-launch of Module 3 of the Rural Health Clinic Education Series: Helping SORHs Make Decisions About Providing Technical Assistance and Support to Rural Health Clinics and Other Rural Primary Care Providers! This educational module is designed primarily for State Offices of Rural Health interested in developing and implementing technical assistance projects for rural primary care providers. Although Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) are central in this module, general business principles are applicable to most primary care provider types. Some of the content may be appropriate to share with partners, stakeholders and/or community members. Special thanks to all the members of the Primary Care Committee for their time, consideration and expertise during this review and revision process.
NARHC & NOSORH Partnership Leads to New RHC COVID-19 Testing Technical Assistance Project
NOSORH and the National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC) are partnering to assist in building the capacity of Rural Health Clinics in development and implementation of sustainable, community-centric COVID-19 testing programs. This project, funded by FORHP to assist Medicare certified RHCs, takes a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to providing rural-relevant assistance to provider-based and independent RHCs.

This work is a natural fit with NOSORH’s strategic priorities as we are a relied upon conduit of information dissemination, education, and hands-on technical assistance reaching into rural communities. NOSORH’s collaboration with SORH allows for more comprehensive outreach and technical assistance to all RHCs. Moreover, the NOSORH team dedicated to this project will build upon their work to enhance the TA capacity of SORH, support the efforts to share RHC successes for the Power of Rural campaign, and enhance national, state and local collaboration to support RHCs in an innovative way. For more information, please contact Tammy Norville.
Survey Says...SORH Technical Assistance Survey 2020
NOSORH recently surveyed the SORH team members working most directly with certified rural primary care providers, including RHCs, FQHCs, Look-Alikes, School-Based Health Centers, Free and Charitable Clinics, Faith-Based Clinics, and any other rural provider that provides primary care services. The purpose of the survey was to gain an understanding of the TA needs SORH may have for assisting rural primary care providers. The feedback received is also important to the work of the Primary Care Committee (PCC). A brief review of the SORH Technical Assistance Survey 2020 revealed results far exceeding expectations! With 44 responses from 37 states, NOSORH will have a solid foundation to build future TA opportunities and the PCC will begin incorporating identified needs into their work.

A few survey stats:
Respondents work with the following provider types:
-91% RHCs
-77% FQHCs
-55% Look-alikes
-50% Fee-for-Service (regular) clinics

83% answered ‘Yes’ to having interest in more in-depth capacity building support for SORH to develop a TA program.
No knowledge and/or resources in the following areas (top 5):
  • Revenue cycle (billing & coding) 29%
  • Payment models/Medicaid/APMs 24%
  • Substance use services within primary care 21%
  • Opioid specific work within primary care 21%
  • Clinical Operations 19%
Top 6 provider types receiving no TA:
  1. Faith-based clinics
  2. School-based Health Centers
  3. Tribal (IHS)
  4. Free & charitable clinics
  5. Oral Health/Dental providers
  6. FQHC Look-Alikes
Have interest in more in-depth capacity building support? Check out the Tiered Technical Assistance Program or contact Tammy Norville (tammyn@nosorh.org). 
Rural Health Policy Update
On July 27, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. The HEALS Act is a package of COVID-related funding bills and represents the Senate’s opening offer on passing the next round of emergency funding. Similar to the House proposal passed in May, the Senate package has not drawn bipartisan support. The deadlock will most likely mean a narrow agreement is eventually passed before the Senate leaves town on August 7. Some of the must-fund items which could be included in a narrow package are extending Unemployment Insurance, school funding and additional PPP and hospital funding. Read More
NOSORH Promising Practice
Texas SORH Fosters Quality Champions in Rural Hospitals Across the State
by Beth Blevins

To help rural Texas hospitals improve the quality of their healthcare, the Texas Office of Rural Health (TX SORH) is fostering “quality champions” in every region of the state.

“In Texas we’re not immune to the high rate of turnover in our hospitals—which includes our quality champions,” said Trenton Engledow, TX SORH Director. “The idea of our Quality Improvement Training Program (QITP) is to have an intense training that helps a handful of these champions become trained and certified for the CPHQ (Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality) exam.”

The CPHQ exam is often regarded as the standard in certifications for individuals in healthcare quality management. While it is unknown how many individuals in rural Texas have CPHQ certification, Engledown estimates that it is not widely obtained. “Through this program we hope to encourage individuals at our rural hospitals to strive for it, to better their reporting, and to improve the healthcare they provide,” he said. Read More
Past Promising Practice articles can be found here on the NOSORH website

August
5
(3:00 ET)
Webinar - Connect Americans Now: Bridging the Digital Divide for Rural & Underserved Communities 
Connect Americans Now is a coalition of more than 270 organizations and companies representing voices for agriculture, health care, education, small business, technology, veterans, rural advocacy and more — committed to completely eliminating the digital divide by supporting a mixed-technology approach that leverages the full potential of every tool in the nation’s toolkit. Click here to register
August
26
(2:00 ET)
TruServe Monthly Training


Sept 29-Oct 1
Virtual NOSORH Annual Meeting

November
19
National Rural Health Day

November
21
2020 Rural Health Clinical Congress
Mark your calendar for RME Collaborative’s 2020 Rural Health Clinical Congress- a free, multi-topic CME/CE virtual event designed for primary care providers who care for patients in rural and underserved areas. Stay tuned for more details!
Featured Resources
NEW Issue Brief - Defining Rural Population Health and Health Equity
In recent years, the terms "population health" and "health equity" have often been used interchangeably by some rural stakeholders. This issue brief aims to examine the differences between the two terms, and offers successful examples of rural population health and health equity activities by State Offices of Rural Health (SORH) and their partners. The brief also offers suggestions on how rural health stakeholders can get started in population health and health equity efforts at the state and local levels. With support from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, NOSORH developed this issue brief for SORH and other rural health stakeholders as a means of ensuring unified definitions and approaches to population health and health equity by rural stakeholders.
Issue Brief – Identifying Vulnerable Rural Populations During COVID-19: The CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index
This issue brief was developed as a means of using existing data to target resources where they are needed most during COVID-19. The Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) offers an opportunity to quickly identify populations of rural residents that could most benefit from currently available resources – allowing you to address current needs while also focusing on prevention. The issue brief offers an overview of the SVI and how it’s calculated, identifies indicators that highlight populations at high risk for spread of COVID-19 and indicators of those at high risk of infection.
#PowerofRural