ORHPC News Update June 2022 - Office of Rural Health and Primary Care



Office of Rural Health and Primary Care News

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June 2022

Update Index

MDH news

Data snapshot: Maintaining obstetric skills in rural Minnesota

Health care professional students at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus, have become one of the Minnesota Rural Health Conference’s core block of attendees. Even though the MNRHC was cancelled this year due to ongoing COVID–19 concerns, there will still be an event held for the University of Minnesota–Duluth medical students.[1] The increasing challenge of accessing birth services in rural areas will be one of the topics presented at the event. The number of rural hospitals closing their birthing services affects the ability of local health care professionals to maintain the specialized skills needed to handle emergency births.

map depicting the 8 MN counties that lost hospital birth services between 2011 and 2020

Source: 2021 Rural Health Care in Minnesota Chartbook (state.mn.us), page 30, Minnesota Department of Health, 2021. The loss of hospital–based birth services has been linked to increases in pre–term births, demonstrating the need to support rural–relevant solutions for rural maternal health.

According to a recent policy brief published by the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center,

Given the “…growing numbers of rural hospitals closing obstetric units, those hospitals that keep their doors open, without regular obstetric care, may be faced with difficulties in providing needed care for local pregnant residents. One particularly pressing challenge for hospitals is the potential for facing an obstetric emergency, such as an emergency birth or other obstetric complication."[2]

The same article reported on their survey conducted of rural hospitals that did not have obstetric services and, not surprisingly, one of the concerns staff had about responding to local obstetric emergencies was the lack of specialty care providers and the lack of skills to address emergency births. Labor and delivery skills require constant repetition and practice. Many rural hospitals with only a small number of births each year must look for opportunities to keep these skills sharp.

With funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and the Minnesota Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) (a critical access hospital in Cloquet) installed state–of–the–art obstetrics simulation technology to provide medical and surgical obstetric simulation training opportunities to physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals across rural Minnesota.

Sustaining provider skills in low volume settings such as a rural or critical access hospital is an important part of the rural healthcare safety net. Physicians and nurses at the CMH were the first group to test the new equipment during the initial development of the training curriculum. Rick Breuer, CEO and Administrator of CMH, graciously offered to provide this simulation training opportunity to the UMD medical students during our usual MNRHC time frame in June.

Our thanks is extended to Mr. Breuer and his staff for providing this opportunity for these students who will entering the rural health care landscape in the near future.

We will gather any insights and report on the event in a future ORHPC News Update.

[1] A key part of the MNRHC has always been the in–person networking;. It is largely due to this that the three conference hosts—the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Rural Health & Primary Care; Minnesota Rural Health Association; and the National Rural Health Resource Center—made the difficult decision to cancel the 2022 MNRHC. Only the student component will be held. The annual MNRHC has become integrated into the curriculum at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus.

[2] Obstetric Emergencies in Rural Hospitals: Challenges and Opportunities. (Tuttle MS, Gilbertson M, Interrante JD, Kozhimannil KB). The University of MinneSota Rural Health Research Center. Policy Brief, 2020. https://rhrc.umn.edu/publication/obstetric-emergencies-in-rural-hospitals-challenges-and-opportunities/ [Accessed 30 May 2022].

Opportunity to participate in CAH swing bed project

The Minnesota Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Program contracted with Allevant Solutions to support up to 10 Critical Access Hospital swing bed programs with education, technical assistance, and targeted market analysis with the goal of improving quality of patient care and optimizing swing bed market utilization for improved financial performance.

With a strong focus on quality, outcomes, and growth, Allevant clients saw an average increase in post-acute bed days of 49% by the second year. More than 62% of patients were categorized as complex medical or complex surgical (a growing patient population), and only 6.5% of Transitional Care patients were discharged directly back to acute care during a program stay of less than 30 days.

At no cost to the CAH, the project will run through August 2023. On June 16, 2022 at 2:00 PM Central Time, Allevant will be hosting a 1 hour webinar to provide more information about the program. If interested in learning more, please plan to attend this webinar along with any or all of the following members of your organization; CEO, CFO, CNO, lead therapy, Case Management, and Medical Director. Webinar details:

  • Topic: Minnesota Swing Bed Educational and Implementation Opportunity
  • Time: Jun 16, 2022 02:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84554669281?pwd=STRicXAxNUJGczBkNTVVeVlMNVZVQT09

Contact Jordan Tenenbaum jtenenbaum@allevant.com, or 314–302–5373 with any questions.

 2022 MN Rural Health Awards OPEN for nominations

Applications are due Wednesday, August 31.

Email the completed Rural Health Hero, Team and Lifetime nomination form to: health.orhpc@state.mn.us by 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, August 31. You may include two additional 8 ½ x 11 pages (such as letters of support and/or news articles).

Email the completed Rural Health Emerging Leader nomination form to: mark@mnruralhealth.org by 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, August 31. You may include two additional 8 ½ x 11 pages (such as letters of support and/or news articles).

Rural Health Awards are given annually to individuals and groups who have made a significant contribution to improving rural health in Minnesota.

Nominees may have contributed to rural health in any capacity: in a volunteer or paid position, as a health care provider or non-provider, and/or through policy or practice.

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Grants and other funding

New: Clinical Dental Education Innovations Grant

The Clinical Dental Education Innovation Grant is now accepting applications until 11:59 pm, Friday July 1.

Clinical training is a requirement for dental professionals to become licensed, but opportunities to receive clinical training are limited. Under the authority of Minnesota Statutes Section 62J.692, Subdivision 7a, the Commissioner of Health is authorized to award grants to sponsoring institutions and clinical dental training sites for projects that increase dental access for underserved populations and promote innovative clinical dental education or clinical training programs. Individual providers applying alone are not eligible for grants, nor are clinical training sites or institutions outside of Minnesota.

Potential uses of grant funds include expanding existing clinical training programs that have demonstrated success in providing dental services to underserved populations and in developing or implementing new programs designed to improve access for underserved populations. Programs must use dental occupations residents or students in dental professional training programs. 

For more information, please contact health.primarycareprograms@state.mn.us, or 651-201-3870.

Reminder: Community Health Worker Training Program

A new Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) has been released to expand the public health workforce by training 13,000 community health workers (CHW), as well as building their knowledge and skills. Applications are due June 14.

Reminder: Mental Health Cultural Community Continuing Education (MHCCCE) Grant - Individuals

The next round of Mental Health Cultural Community Continuing Education (MHCCCE) - Individuals grant applications is due August 1.

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Vulnerable Rural Hospital Assistance Program Now Open for Applicants

Center for Optimizing Rural Health (CORH)

The Center for Optimizing Rural Health (CORH) works with up to 30 hospitals per year through the year-long Vulnerable Rural Hospital Assistance Program (VRHAP). The Year 5 application for the new cohort will be open from June 1 to July 31, 2022. Selected hospitals receive free technical assistance – guidance, resources, and recommendations – from a team of rural hospital experts, interactive sessions with peer hospitals, and learning opportunities tailored to topics that can benefit your hospital. Each VRHAP hospital is assigned a CORH manager who becomes familiar with its unique situation. This manager taps into the full expertise of their CORH colleagues and acts as a sounding board for hospital leadership. VRHAP hospitals also have exclusive access to a suite of educational and capacity-building resources.

Rural America Placemaking Toolkit

The America Placemaking Toolkit describes the collaborative community process to define a town by what it offers the people who live. This digital toolkit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative includes examples of rural placemaking projects along with technical assistance providers, funders, and guides to resources.

New Playbook for Building Healthy Rural Places

The national nonprofit Build Healthy Places Network (BHPN) created an action–oriented guide to investment models for health care partnerships with local community and economic development sectors in rural areas. After interviewing dozens of experts, BHPN shares case studies from all over the country highlighting core strategies used by rural healthcare entities as examples for future multi-sector partnerships to follow.

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News from our Partners

NRHA announces 2022 top 20 critical access hospitals

The 20 highest-ranked critical access hospitals (CAHs) in the country, as determined by the Chartis Center for Rural Health, were recently announced by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). Two Minnesota CAHs were included in the the "Best Practice Recipients - Patient Satisfaction" category: Kittson Healthcare in Hallock, and Madelia Health in Madelia.

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Read this

Growing Racial Diversity in Rural America: Results from the 2020 Census, University of New Hampshire, Carsey School of Public Policy, May 2022

Community Characteristics and Financial and Operational Performance of Rural Health Clinics in the United States: A Chartbook, Maine Rural Health Research Center, May 2022.

New Surgeon General Advisory Sounds Alarm on Health Worker Burnout and Resignation, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, May 2022.

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Save the date

Register for the free Rural Health Clinic (RHC) Virtual Summit to be held June 21 & 22, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CDT each day. The event will include two–hour sessions each day with presentations from notable rural health experts, as well as specific RHC case studies.

Register for a free webinar opportunity, Diabetes - Food is Medicine, to be held Tuesday, June 28, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. CST. It is the first of a webinar series focused on food insecurity as a social determinant of health and contributor to chronic disease prevention and management.

The virtual Many Faces of Community Health Conference will be held August 18–19.

This year's National Rural Health Day is Thursday, November 17.

National Rural Health Day

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