January 2018
Rural Matters
Table of Contents
Here's a quick link to articles in this issue:

Welcome New Community Health Workers
Rural Health Network Policy and Advocacy Resources
Population Health Improvement Program Update
jackLeadership Message - Reflections on Growth

At our January staff meeting, I took stock of the scene before me and realized that our staff has grown to the point where we literally filled the Community Room at the Mary Wilcox Memorial Library in Whitney Point.  We meet at the library because our small, store front offices in Whitney Point lack meeting space.

In addition to growth in Mobility Management of SCNY and the Food & Health Network of SCNY over the past two years, our Community Health Services Department has realized a ten year goal to secure the resources needed to expand our work improving access to health care for rural residents. Three new staff are now working as Community Health Workers in rural Broome, Delaware and Tioga Counties to engage individuals enrolled in Medicaid who are either not accessing health care services or accessing health care services infrequently. The big idea here is to support the regular use of primary and preventive care services to ensure better health. Through this outreach we will also work with individuals and families to help address other health related needs including healthy food access, transportation, heating assistance, etc. This work is being funded by Care Compass Network as part of Medicaid Reform.

As we celebrate these new resources to help more rural residents access and effectively use health care services, it is important to acknowledge that there have been many partners and investors that have supported this work over the years. Major investors have included the NYS Office of Rural Health, Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, UHS, the AmeriCorps National Service Program, Binghamton University Decker School of Nursing and School of Social Work, Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), Appalachian Regional Commission and the NYS Health Foundation.

While we are excited about the expansion of Community Health Services and helping more rural residents to live healthier lives, we recognize there is still much more to do. The Community Health Worker services will need to transition within two years to another funding mechanism. The work to ensure this transition will begin early this year. While there is now a way to support and work with those enrolled in Medicaid, how do we serve those who are not? The challenge of maintaining an open door where anyone in need of help accessing health care can be served remains. 

As we enter the New Year, I want to acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of our mission driven staff and Board of Directors who have made our growth possible. For this Community Health Services expansion, much of the credit goes to Pamela Guth, Director of Community Health Services, who has worked tirelessly to expand our services through Medicaid reform.  

As a team, we are genuinely excited to be able to help more rural residents lead healthier lives. We also remain committed to continuing to address priority health needs and the resource and policy inequities that negatively impact rural people and communities.   
Jack Salo
Executive Director

RHSC is currently recruiting for several 900 hour, part-time AmeriCorps positions related to combating the opioid epidemic. Positions will be predominately located in Broome County and focus on prevention, education, treatment, and recovery. Members receive a living allowance and an education award, which can be used on college tuition or student loans. Schedules are flexible, allowing for a lighter load during the school year (and more hours/week during the summer) for students.

We also have full-time VISTA positions available. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in an AmeriCorps position with RHSC, please contact RHSC-staff@rhnscny.org or visit our visit our website for more information. 

rachelWelcome New Community Health Workers
Thanks to Care Compass Network's Community Based Organization Transformation grant award, Community Health Services staff at Rural Health Network SCNY grew by two in January. Susan Boldman and Desirae Humphrey are Community Health Workers assigned to Tioga and Broome counties respectively. 

They will provide outreach to Medicaid Members that appear to be low utilizers of primary care and preventative benefits, yet experienced a recent avoidable emergency room visit. Susan and Desirae have their first case lists and will be making contact to offer short term services through phone calls and visits. The goal is to increase each individual's active role in seeking appropriate health care through non clinical support in the patients' home or community.

Susan Boldman is a fourth generation Owego native. After raising her children in Western NY, she completed her education with a scholarship for non-traditional aged students at Smith College. A year of AmeriCorps service with RHNSCNY in 2010 led to employment with Tioga County Department of Social Services as a Child Protective caseworker. She looks forward to continuing to support fellow residents with a different focus: securing essential health services.

Desirae Humphrey received her Bachelor's Degree in Communication and Human Services through Empire State College. She worked in the Medicaid division at Broome County Department of Social Services for six years.  Desirae grew up in Whitney Point and returned to raise her family here.  She is excited to help her community and increase knowledge of services throughout Broome County. 

Please join us in welcoming Susan and Desirae to our staff team! 
2017 wrapped up the busiest year ever for Mobility Management of SCNY. The Getthere Call Center handled more cases than the previous two years combined. With new programs starting in 2017 that enabled MMSCNY to provide more services to urban/suburban residents, rural cases still made up nearly 60% of our calls. 

M MSCNY received funding from Care Compass Network to initiate a Transportation Voucher program to provide needed transportation services to vulnerable Medicaid individuals to assist them in improving their health by providing access to food, prescriptions and other social determinants of health needs. The voucher program accounted for some of this increase but not all.  Connection to Care saw a significant jump in individuals receiving assistance from MMSCNY. The number of individuals receiving travel training increased as well as individuals benefiting from other MMSCNY programs. For more details, watch for the 2017 edition of our progress report.

Getthere Call Center
3 year total
Number of Cases
Number of Rural Cases
% of total Getthere Rural Call Center Cases 
What can you look forward to from MMSCNY as we head into 2018? We plan to initiate more programming for individuals seeking transportation to employment.  We're hoping to establish a Getthere Call Center Volunteer Driver program to provide more transportation options in underserved rural areas in our 5 counties. We will continue to promote Rideshare with our work with NYSDOT and the NY511 Rideshare program. We will monitor the impact of Lyft and Uber in upstate New York as well as continue our collaborations with other mobility managers across the state. A new website with a transportation trip-planning feature will debut later this year. We will remain busy and continue our pursuit of more transportation options for rural upstate New York.
The Food and Health Network's Food and Health Volunteers Corp assists partner organizations throughout South Central New York by strengthening their capacity to develop successful, volunteer-led programs. Since 2016, the volunteers corps has provided assistance with capacity building, volunteer outreach, recruitment, and website management support to strengthen volunteer initiatives surrounding food and hunger. 

One example is the Tioga Anti-Hunger Task Force which,  with the assistance of the Food & Health Volunteer Corps,   expanded their volunteer-run summer lunch box program to reach an additional 68 people and increase the amount of lunch boxes distributed by 1,232 between 2016 and 2017. According to Andy Hafer, Community Services Director, Tioga Opportunities, Inc.  "Working in collaboration with the Food & Health Network, Tioga Opportunities, Inc. and the Tioga County Hunger Task Force have made recognizable strides in increasing participation at free summer meal sites for kids. FaHN's committed and knowledgeable staff, have been a pleasure to work with, and I look forward to continuing our partnership with new, impactful initiatives!"

Volunteers with the Tioga County Anti-Hunger Task Force delivering food last summer.

In addition to the successes in Tioga County, the Food and Health Volunteer Corps has assisted in developing websites for anti-hunger task forces in the region, awarded capacity building mini-grants for volunteer projects, collaborated with the Rural Health Service Corps on state and national days of service projects, supported the growth of volunteer leadership for food rescue initiatives, and helped organize the Volunteer Recognition Conference in partnership with the Rural Health Service Corps and United Way of Broome County . According to FaHN Program Coordinator Christian Dirado-Owens, " mobilizing community members around the pressing issues of malnutrition, food justice, and hunger has been a key objective of the Food and Health Volunteers Corps. The more community members become involved in their own local food systems and anti-hunger initiatives, the greater the impact on underserved, food-insecure populations."

Food and Health Volunteer Corps activities are made possible through a Volunteer Generation Fund grant from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.  
Rural Health Policy & Advocacy Resources
RHNSCNY's 2018 Advocacy Plan is currently under review by our Board of Directors. If you would like to discuss our advocacy efforts and see a draft of the Plan, please contact Mary Maruscak 

New York State has made impressive gains in health insurance coverage since implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but numerous threats to that progress are looming. The repeal of the ACA's individual mandate, uncertain funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Essential Plan, threats to Dreamers' Medicaid coverage, and the possible introduction of Association Health Plans are poised to erode coverage in New York.  In his latest  HuffPost blog , NYSHealth Foundation President and CEO David Sandman discusses these key threats and how New York might protect against them.

January 9 marked 100 days since Congress failed to extend full funding for the Childrens' Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides 9 million US children and pregnant women with comprehensive and affordable health care coverage. The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed individual state fact sheets using data from the ACA, Medicaid and CHIP to highlight how all three programs have worked together to ensure childrens' access to health coverage. For NY State, see a Snapshot of Children's Coverage, a CHIP Fact Sheet, and Medicaid Facts. 

Congress must pass a spending bill by January 19. Please consider reaching out to amplify the message that lawmakers must take action to extend CHIP. Dial the US Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected with your Senators and Representative(s).
PHIPPopulation Health Improvement Program Update
The Healthlink NY Community Network, of which RHNSCNY is a partner in implementing the Southern Tier Population Health Improvement Program (PHIP), has received approval from NY State to continue the PHIP contract for 2018, the initiative's 4th year. The 2017 Progresss Report shares updates on the regional health planning that has occured over the past three years.  

PHIP focuses upon life circumstances which lead to health disparities, or the variation in disease rates for certain populations of people. In the Southern Tier, the main areas of research and capacity building for this 5-county initiative are: behavioral health, transportation/access, and most recently, an OASAS-funded initiative centered around building a regional collaborative on substance use. 

Looking forward to 2018, the Healthlink NY Community Network is considering strategies to incorporate the AARP's 8 Domains of Livability into their work, as well as maintaining close relationships with our county-level health departments to move forward the Prevention Agenda and the Community Health Assessment process. 

To learn more about the work of the Healthlink NY Community Network and the PHIP initiative, contact:

Tioga County: Mary Maruscak           Delaware County: Evan Heaney
Tompkins County: John Mazzello      Chenango County: Jamie Hagenbuch
Broome County: Jo Difulvio               Healthlink NY: Phillip Ginter

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