Rural Health and Primary Care Newsletter

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January 31, 2020

Rural Health and Primary Care Newsletter

Welcome to the Rural Health and Primary Care newsletter! The purpose of this newsletter is to provide program updates, news, and notifications on funding opportunities. 

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Highlights from this newsletter include:

Comings and Goings


Welcome, Samra Hiros, State Office of Rural Health Program Planner

Samra Hiros joined the Rural Health and Primary Care team in November 2019 and currently serves as the State Office of Rural Health Program Planner. Since 2015, Samra has been serving on the board of the Iowa Rural Health Association (IRHA) and looks forward to continuing to serve this organization in her new role. Samra has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Grand View University and a Master’s degree in Public Health from Des Moines University. In her most recent role, Samra worked on tobacco policy change providing technical assistance to a variety of health care providers and businesses located in rural counties. Samra can be reached at (515) 423-7900 or

Planned Farewell to Lloyd Burnside, Shortage Designation and Volunteer Health Care Provider Program Planner

Lloyd Burnside, who has managed the Shortage Designation process for 19 years and the Volunteer Health Care Provider Program (VHCPP) for the past 8 years will be retiring on March 31, 2020 after 22 years of service with the Iowa Department of Public Health. Genealogy, relaxing, and traveling are some of the plans in his near future. Becky Swift, who manages the Iowa Certificate of Need program, will assume VHCPP leadership on February 3, 2020 and will manage both programs henceforth. Becky can be reached at (515) 281-4344 or In Lloyd's absence, the interim shortage designation contact is Cristie Duric, the Primary Care Officer, who will field questions that arise. Criste may be reached at (515) 229-3913 or Congratulations and best wishes to Lloyd!

Action Requested: Contact Information

The Rural Health and Primary Care Programs, and the Iowa Department of Public Health as a whole, have opportunities that may be of interest to you and your hospital, including recruitment and retention opportunities. In order to effectively communicate program opportunities, we are requesting your help. Please take a few minutes to complete this short form, requesting contact information for a few of your hospital's key contacts.

State Office of Rural Health Program Updates

NRHA is now accepting nominations for Rural Health Awards

Every year, the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) honors outstanding individuals and organizations. The 2020 awards luncheon will be held during NRHA's 43rd Annual Rural Health Conference on May 21, 2020 in San Diego. At this time the names of awardees are announced before approximately 1,000 rural health peers.

Consider nominating your favorite rural health individual, program or organization so that they may be honored nationally for their contributions to rural health. To ensure accountability, either the nominee or nominator must have a connection to NRHA through membership. If you need to verify membership status, reach out to Sharon Hutinett at To learn more about the nomination process, visit Rural Health Awards Nominations.

What’s New

The Rural Opportunity Map includes data driven tools to supercharge the work of rural stakeholders in America. This resource uses data sets on broadband infrastructure, education attainment, young companies, and other local assets. A map section for local leaders is designed to help them discover and learn from peer communities. Developing sections help decode the many definitions of rural across federal entities, help investors find options in rural Opportunity Zones, and track trends in rural health care. To learn more, visit

Flex Program and Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) Updates

REMINDER: Revised EDTC Measures, Starting with 2020 Encounters

As a reminder, the revised EDTC measures are in affect beginning with Quarter 1 2020 encounters. Revised EDTC resources can be found here,, including the following:

January MBQIP Monthly

Highlights from the January MBQIP Monthly include:

  • CAHs Can! Rural Success: Virtual Quality Improvement Mentor Program
  • Data: CAHs Measure Up – Data Quality and Accuracy
  • Tips: Robyn Quips – Tips and Frequently Asked Questions: Comments and Observations on the EDTC Training Sessions
  • Tools and Resources: Helping CAHs Succeed in Quality Reporting & Improvement

Additionally, this month's newsletter highlights the Virtual Quality Improvement Mentors, including Christy Mintah from Avera Holy Family Hospital in Estherville, IA! Congratulations, Christy, on being a QI Mentor and for your participation and work in this program!

Flex Program Kick-Off Webinar

Thank you to everyone who attended the Flex Program kick-off webinar on January 28th! For those who were unable to attend, the webinar recording and handouts are available. In summary, for the Flex Program, the following organizations are involved in providing services to Iowa's critical access hospitals:

  • Iowa Healthcare Collaborative is providing technical assistance and services for quality improvement (including MBQIP) and community health needs assessment webinars.
  • HomeTown Health is providing technical assistance and services related to financial and operational improvement. 
    Please complete their pre-assessment surveys by February 7, 2020.

SHIP Applications

We greatly appreciate you taking the time to complete the SHIP application for the June 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021 SHIP program. We look forward to planning another year of SHIP activities! After completion of the application, an email should have been sent automatically with your application responses. If you did not receive this email, or if you would like a copy of your responses, please let us know.

Congratulations, Lucas County Health Center, for being a 2019 Community Star!

community star

Each year the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health features Community Stars for National Rural Health Day. Community Stars are nominated by each state based on demonstration of the following criteria:

  • Cultivates a vital, innovative rural health landscape and infrastructure;
  • Develops leadership capacity to grow rural population health and health equity;
  • Builds capacity for rural data-driven program planning and decision making;
  • Contributes to rural health innovation, education, collaboration, and communication. 

In November 2019, Lucas County Health Center in Chariton, Iowa was recognized as Iowa’s Community Star! In addition to this honor, Lucas County Health Center was named one of the top 20 critical access hospitals in the nation for quality by The Chartis Center for Rural Health; was recognized in January 2019 at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Annual Quality Conference; and was asked to participate in the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative Marketplace: Exemplary Practice Showcase. Their accomplishments in 2019 do not stop there, in May 2019, the Lucas County Health Center Medical Clinic was identified as a Pinnacle level practice in the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative through Compass Practice Transformation Network. 

Their accomplishments are indicators of their excellent staff, leadership, and team spirit. Abiding by their mission of “Stewardship, Excellence, Dignity, Hospitality, Integrity, and Teamwork,” Lucas County Health Center persistently provides high quality, family-centered care and strives for innovation and excellence. 

To read about Lucas County Health Center and other states’ Community Stars, visit:

Highlight Your Hospital's Accomplishments!

We would love to hear about your hospital's accomplishments, whether they be a hospital-wide accomplishment or staff recognition. Please send any stories and notable accomplishments to so that we can recognize you in our next newsletter.

County-Level Outbreak and Overdose Assessment

The Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis at the Iowa Department of Public Health developed county-level vulnerability assessments for risk of opioid overdoses and rapid dissemination (i.e., outbreaks) of HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The analysis was completed in two parts as follows: 1) a vulnerability assessment for risk rapid dissemination of HIV and HCV infections; and 2) a vulnerability assessment for risk of opioid overdoses. This work was funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the Opioid Prevention in States – Surge Support (OPIS – S2) Cooperative Agreement for Emergency Response. A report summarizing their work can be found here.

Project ECHO Information

The Iowa Primary Care Association facilities Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO), offering interactive web-based programs. The following ECHO sessions are available.

If you are interested in participating in one or both of these sessions, please email and include the following information:

  • Name
  • Title
  • Organization Name
  • Email

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) ECHO


What is it? This program provides essential guidelines and steps to implementing and integrating a successful MAT program into an outpatient primary care setting. The MAT program aims to improve access for patients suffering from opioid use
disorder. This is NOT the training needed to receive a Suboxone waiver. It is best suited to those who have their waiver and are ready to start, or who have recently started.

Who should attend? Clinic staff who are interested in starting a MAT program (providers, nursing, front desk/scheduling, admin, etc.) or clinic staff who are already running a MAT ECHO.

When are the sessions? These Zoom sessions occur the second Friday of the month from 12:00 to 1:15 PM.

Hepatitis C (HCV) ECHO


What is it? This program provides community-focused primary care clinicians an opportunity to become experts in the delivery of Hepatitis C care through a mentoring-based initiative. The program provides a framework for sharing expertise across the state and as a result will help patients achieve a viral cure and avoid the downstream sequela associated with
HCV without leaving the providers they trust and the communities where they live and work. Interested providers do not have to have any prior experience in treating Hepatitis C to participate in HCV ECHO. 

Who should attend? Providers and clinical staff who are interested in providing treatment and care to individuals diagnosed with Hepatitis C
(providers, nursing, behavioral health, linkage navigators, front desk/scheduling, admin, etc.).

When are the sessions? These Zoom sessions occur the third Tuesday of the month from 11:45 AM to 1:15 PM.

Available Funding Opportunitites

Rural Health Care Coordination Program: The purpose of this program is to support rural health consortiums/networks aiming to achieving the overall goals of improving access, delivery, and quality of care through the application of care coordination strategies in rural communities. Eligibility for the program requires that the lead applicant must be either public or nonprofit private rural entity who represent a consortium of at least three separate health care entities and must not previously have received a grant under this program for the same or similar project. Eligible applicants may request up to $250,000 annually for the program’s 3-year period of performance September 1, 2020-August 31, 2023. 

Applications are due by March 12, 2020.

HRSA Capacity Development for Ryan White/HIV AIDS ProgramThe Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will make approximately 60 awards from a total investment of $8 million to increase access to high quality HIV primary health care services for low income, uninsured, and underserved people with HIV.  Eligible applicants are public and nonprofit private entities, faith-based and community-based organizations, and Tribes and tribal organizations are eligible to apply. 

Applications are due by May 25, 2020.

FY 2020 Opioid-Impacted Family Support Program (OIFSP): The purpose of this program is to support training programs to expand the number of peer support specialists and other behavioral health-related paraprofessionals who are trained to work in integrated, interprofessional teams providing services to children whose parents are impacted by opioid use disorders and other substance use disorders, and their family members who are in guardianship roles. Eligible applicants are State-licensed mental health nonprofit and for-profit organizations. For the purpose of this NOFO, these organizations may include academic institutions, including universities, community colleges and technical schools, which must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency.  

Applications are due by April 13, 2020.

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment ProgramLoan repayment assistance for registered nurses, nurse practitioners, advanced practice nurses, and nursing school faculty who agree to work in underserved areas.

Applications are due by March 12, 2020.

Iowa Department of Public Health Funding OpportunitiesFunding opportunities through the Iowa Department of Public Health can be found on the IowaGrants website.

Upcoming Events and Deadlines

MBQIP Due Date: ED-2
February 18, 2020 via CART

April 1, 2020 via QualityNet

Fourth Annual Iowa Small and Rural Hospital Conference
March 18-20, 2020
West Des Moines Marriott, West Des Moines, IA

Iowa Flex Regional Meeting - South
May 13, 2020
Hilton Garden Inn Des Moines/Urbandale, Johnston, IA

Iowa Flex Regional Meeting - North
July 20-21, 2020
Bridges Bay Resort, Arnolds Park, IA