OHSU

December 2012 Newsletter

ORH-News

Happy Holidays from the Oregon Office of Rural Health

The staff of the Oregon Office of Rural Health wishes everyone a Happy Holiday season. With all the excitement of the holidays it is easy to forget all that we have accomplished this past year. We hope you will take a few minutes out of the busy season to appreciate all you have done for your communities.

Thank you and have a Happy Holiday!

2013 Oregon Legislature Just Around the Corner

Now that elections are over, the Oregon Legislature is preparing for the 2013 Session. The legislature will meet January 14 – 17, 2013 for purposes of organizing its committee structure and electing leadership. The formal start of the session will be February 4, 2013. Under Oregon’s annual session system, the legislature meets for a maximum of 160 days during odd years. Session is scheduled to adjourn on June 30, 2013.

The Oregon Office of Rural Health, with the Oregon Rural Health Association and our other partners, will be working on issues that impact rural health care and are important to our rural communities. Issues include: the sunset of the Rural Provider Tax Credit, the sunset of the Rural Volunteer EMS-P Tax Credit, CCO implementation, the Health Care Insurance Exchange and all issues that impact health care workforce.

If you need to find out who your legislators are, watch legislative proceedings or find a copy of a bill, visit the Oregon State Legislature.

2012 Oregon Rural Health Hero of the Year

The Oregon Office of Rural Health presented this year’s Rural Health Hero of the Year Award to Angel Flight West – Oregon Wing (AFW).

Started in 1998, AFW is a group of volunteer pilots that provide free transportation in small planes for people who need to get to medical appointments and access other essential services. Over 14 years, the pilots have donated nearly 1,700 flights for more than 600 Oregonians. In addition to the transportation, AFW also pays all flight expenses.

AFW has made a big impact on many communities across Oregon. Eighty-five percent of the people transported by Angel Flight West live in small and rural communities. They have flown people from Nyssa, Milton-Freewater, Vida, Burns, Baker City, Ontario, Coos Bay and other Oregon communities. They have flown residents to appointments in Portland, Seattle and as far away as southern California. AFW even flew a service dog from Veneta to Santa Rosa, CA for training.

“If not for these pilots, my husband Phil wouldn’t be alive today,” says Merrell Schwimmer. “He has pancreatic cancer and in August 2011, doctors gave him three months to live. Then we learned about a clinical trial at Virginia Mason Clinic in Seattle. But because of medical bills, we’d lost our home and all our retirement savings, and we didn’t have the resources to travel that far. The AFW pilots have flown Phil to and from Seattle 42 times and I know they’ll be there as long as we need them. We’re not the only rural family whose lives they’ve changed. There are so many stories.”

Learn more about Angel Flight West and what people are saying about them at 2012 Rural Hero of the Year.

From Merrell Schwimmer, the wife of a passenger from Jacksonville
Angel Flight West gave my husband Phil the opportunity, very frankly, to live life longer. He was accepted in a clinical trial for pancreatic cancer at Virginia Mason in Seattle, but we knew that if he had to be there once a week or even every two weeks, we couldn’t afford to fly there. The patient facilitator told us about Angel Flight West. It’s hard to ask for something if you’ve been self sufficient your whole life but I contacted the AFW office and that’s how it began. I left myself in their hands. They just took over that part of our lives for us.

What they do is a gift. The pilots do this for children and for a 70-yr.old man like Phil. As a practicing architect for 40 years he was in charge of many projects. Having a creative mind, he was used to solving difficult problems. The diagnosis he received meant he had to solve problems differently, to ask for help. We are totally blown away with their willingness to take care of our needs. After experiencing Angel Flight West firsthand, now I do volunteer outreach so other people will know about this wonderful organization.

From Jasen Hendersen, Northwest Tribal Cancer Navigation Program
The services you've provided for our Tribal patients are not only excellent, but exceeded expectations. For that service and opportunity, I sincerely thank you.

From Gail Kessler, LCSW, Rogue Valley Medical Center Radiation Oncology
I am an Oncology Social Worker at Rogue Valley Medical Center in Southern Oregon. I often have patients who must travel to Portland to receive more specialized treatments. For some, traveling by car for five hours is too much of a hardship. I have been able to arrange a flight for these patients at no charge through Angel Flight West. This is an extremely valuable service that helps to connect our patients to needed care.

From Dr. Stanley Cohan, Director, Providence Multiple Sclerosis Center
One of our greatest challenges has been to provide meaningful care to patients with a very serious disease when our state is so large geographically and our major metropolitan center is in the upper western corner of the state. It is not uncommon for many of our patients, some of whom are severely disabled, to drive 8 to 10 hours, sometimes in inclement weather, over the mountain ranges, to an appointment at our clinic. Angel Flight West has become an integral part of our program to deliver care to multiple sclerosis patients who live in underserved areas of our state. The availability of Angel Flight West has already had a very significant impact on our ability to care for the very deserving patients who ordinarily would have very limited access to the medical care they need. I also want to save a special note of thanks for the wonderful people who pilot the planes that transport our patients. As volunteers who donate not only their time, but also take on significant economic expense to provide this service free of charge, I salute them all and wish I could thank each one of them individually.

From Laura W., granddaughter of a passenger
When I was a kid, my grandma used to play any classic song you asked her to on the piano – Funny Valentine, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. She used to play for ballet studios, social events and dance halls back in the day.

I just got off the phone with my dad who was able to fly on an Angel Flight the other day with my grandmother from California to Brookings, OR courtesy of Jim Hager. Because of Jim, my grandmother was able to get out of a terrible situation at a convalescent hospital and move into a better facility closer to family in Brookings. For years now, my grandma's health has been deteriorating. She has Alzheimer's, is completely unresponsive and sits almost lifeless in a wheelchair all day long due to having broken her hip a while ago.

She taught herself how to play piano and played everything by ear. I don't think she ever learned how to read music. She just had a really good ear and a natural ability to play on a level and style that any professional pianist would envy (according to my musician father). When she used to play, my grandpa would just sit and sink into his chair, he'd look up and just close his eyes. The sound was so harmonious; it just made you stop in your tracks, sit, listen and feel calm. There is a piano at this new facility in Brookings. She went over to the piano yesterday (her first day there) and for the first time in several years, started playing. It's like she has come back to life. I think she might be back home again - for how long I don't know. I just cannot wait to get out there and see her.

I want to express my overwhelming gratitude to Jim. My dad told me about how unique, energetic and positive he is. I am truly humbled, inspired by and grateful for this man because he gave my only living grandparent a chance to live out the rest of her life in a better place and receive better care - physically, mentally and spiritually. What a priceless blessing my grandma received. Our family is so lucky and grateful for it. We'll never forget what Jim's done for us.

From passenger Kay W., of Aurora
I am writing to thank you all for the wonderful support and assistance you have given me over the past three months. Without you and your generous and caring pilots, I would not have been able to receive chemotherapy treatments each week. Those who wish to step up and selflessly volunteer, has renewed my faith in my fellow man. Each time I board a plane, I thank God for these selfless pilots. Each pilot has gone over and above, to ensure my comfort and safety, right down to a bottle of water and a blanket!

Because of the relentless nature of pancreatic cancer, and the toll a full day of chemotherapy takes, your Mission Coordinating Team on the ground has worked doubly hard to find a roundtrip for me each week, from Aurora (south of Portland) to Renton (Seattle) and return the same day. I know that was asking a lot, but you always came through, week after week, and I can't thank you enough. I'm alive and doing well now, thanks to my doctor, weekly chemo, and all of you!

From Derrick Teal, AFW Oregon Wing Volunteer Pilot
Flying Angel Flight West missions allows me to help people in their time of need, while allowing me the pleasure of flying across this great country.

From an Anonymous Volunteer Pilo
The real heroes of Angel Flight are the courageous patients and families that we fly. As pilots we fly for the love of flying and the rewards of sharing, but our passengers fly out of often dire necessity. This helps us all keep our contributions in perspective.

Apple A Day Campaign—Making 2013 the Most Successful Year Yet!

The 2013 Apple A Day Campaign is off to a great start with the most successful dinner auction in it’s four year history. The auction, held in conjunction with the 29th Annual Oregon Rural Health Conference, raised more than $20,000.

The Apple A Day Campaign is an ongoing campaign designed to help rural, volunteer EMS-Ps (Emergency Medical Service Providers - formerly licensed as EMTs) and EMRs (Emergency Medical Responders - formerly licensed as First Responders) pay for continuing education. Many of these individuals in our rural communities are volunteers—taking time from their work and families as well as paying out of pocket for their training.

EMS is often the first contact people have with our health care system. Whether it is a medical or trauma situation, high quality care given by EMS-Ps and EMRs is critical to patient survival and long term outcomes. The Apple A Day campaign is committed to helping keep our rural EMS-Ps and EMRs prepared.

There will be three rural volunteer EMS grant cycles. Cycle one will open January 7, 2013 and close February 8, 2013. You can find additional cycle periods by going to our website.

The Apple A Day Campaign is successful because of our supporters. We want to thank all of those who donated items to our auction, who participated in our auction and to those who give to Apple A Day throughout the year!

Thanks to All Who Attended the 29th Annual Rural Health Conference!

The conference was a great success thanks to you! Presentation and information about the conference can be found on our website. You can find some great pictures on our Facebook page.

And don’t forget—Instant Recess isn’t just for conferences! Be a leader in making your work place a healthy work place. Get additional information about Instant Recess for your worksite by contacting Robert Duehmig at or 503-494-4450.

Five Rural Hospitals Recognized as Best Practices Top Performers

At the annual membership meeting of the Oregon Rural Healthcare Quality Network, held in conjunction with the 29th Annual Oregon Rural Health Conference at Salishan, the Oregon Rural Healthcare Quality Network (ORHQN) recognized five Critical Access Hospitals for achieving “Best Practices Top Performer” status in one or more of four clinical measures in the “Quality Health Indicators” benchmarking program conducted by the ORHQN.

The five hospitals and the measures for which they were recognized as top performers were:

  • Peace Harbor Hospital, Florence – “Overall Top Performing ORHQN QHi Participating Hospital” for scoring as a top performer in minimizing Hospital Acquired Infections, Patient Falls, Pneumonia Immunization, and Discharge Instructions for Heart Failure Patients.
  • Cottage Grove Community Hospital, Cottage Grove – Awarded individual quality awards for scoring as a top performer in three of four quality measures – Hospital Acquired Infections, Pneumonia Immunizations, and Discharge Instructions for Heart Failure Patients.
  • West Valley Hospital, Dallas - Awarded individual quality awards for scoring as a top performer in two of four quality measures – Hospital Acquired Infections and Discharge Instructions for Heart Failure Patients.
  • Lower Umpqua Hospital, Reedsport – Awarded an individual quality award for scoring as a top performer in Pneumonia Immunizations.
  • Grande Ronde Hospital, La Grande – Awarded an individual quality award for scoring as a top performer in Hospital Acquired Infections.

QHi is a multi-state, web-based, benchmarking tool utilized by small rural hospitals to evaluate internal processes of care and provides participating hospitals opportunities to improve practices by comparing specific measures of quality with like hospitals.

“Participation in the Quality Health Indicator benchmarking program underscores the commitment of these five facilities to providing the best care to their patients and communities,” said Julia Fontanilla, President of the ORHQN and Director of Quality and Clinical Information Systems at Tillamook County General Hospital. Participation in the QHi benchmarking program allows participating hospitals to compare their hospital’s quality data with more than 235 other small rural hospitals across 16 states.

Each month, participating hospitals enter their data for selected quality measures. To be designated a QHi Best Practices Top Performer for a particular quality measure, a hospital must be one of the top five hospital performers in the entire QHi data base for a given measure during three of the past four quarters.

“It is very gratifying to be named a “Best Practices Top Performer” because we know it’s based on our own performance and compared to other small rural hospitals who are working just as hard as we are to deliver quality care to their patients and community,” added Rick Yecny, CEO of Peace Harbor Hospital.

Voter turnout dropped across the country in the 2012 election

The decline in rural counties was twice that of the nation as a whole. And most of that decline came from Democratic totals. (Source: Daily Yonder)

Learn more.

Creating Rural Wealth: A New Lens for Rural Development Efforts

Recognizing the connection between rural wealth and economic prosperity, rural development practitioners have begun to focus more attention on investing in a broad set of assets and building upon linkages among different types of assets. This article highlights lessons from the Economic Research Service review concerning how a wealth creation perspective can inform and improve the efforts of rural communities and others seeking to promote sustainable rural prosperity. Five key lessons for rural economic development strategies emerged from the report. (Source: Amber Waves)

Release of the Obesity Toolkit and Sustainability Tools on the Community Health Gateway/RAC

The Rural Assistance Center (RAC) is pleased to announce the release of the obesity toolkit. This toolkit can be accessed off of: http://www.raconline.org/communityhealth/. You are encouraged to view the information and share it with your grantees and other partners.

In addition, on the right side of that link, you will see a link called Planning for Sustainability under the More Useful Tools bar. These sustainability tools were developed by the Georgia Health Policy Center/Georgia State University. They provide technical assistance for some of our program and they have developed these extremely valuable resources for rural organizations.

Mark Your Calendars

  • 30th Annual Oregon Rural Health Conference
    October 23 - 25, 2013
    Doubletree Hotel (Lloyd Center), Portland
  • ORH EMS Webinar Series
    2nd Tuesday of the Month
    Contact Shelly Dant at
  • Telehealth Alliance of Oregon Annual Meeting and Summit
    Telhealth in Oregon’s Evolving Health Care System: Working Together to Create a New Continuum of Care
    April 11-12, 2013
    Holiday Inn
    919 Kruse Way
    Springfield OR 97477
    www.ortelehealth.org
  • MRSA workshop hosted by Acumentra
    May 17th
    Riverhouse in Bend, Oregon
  • ED Transfer Workshop
    June 14, 2013
    Embassy Suites, PDX Airport

You can find updated information on our website's calendar.

Office of Rural Health Policy – Upcoming Funding Opportunities

The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) administers a number of grant programs to support rural health care delivery. HRSA’s Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) serves as the focal point for rural health activities within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Upcoming Funding Opportunities in FY 2013

Small Healthcare Provider Quality Program: The purpose of the Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement (SHCPQI) Grant Program is to improve patient care and chronic disease outcomes by assisting rural primary care providers with the implementation of quality improvement (QI) initiatives using the Chronic Care Model and electronic patient registries (EPR). This program is a 3-year grant program with individual grant awards limited to a maximum of $150,000 per year.
Eligibility: The lead applicant has to be non-profit and in a rural area or a Federally-recognized tribal organization or an organization that provides services exclusively to migrant farm workers.
Availability: The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) was released November 30, 2012 and is due January 30, 2013.
Program Contact: Ann Ferrero, or 301-443-3999.

Telehealth Network Grant Program (TNGP): The primary objective of the TNGP is to demonstrate how telehealth programs and networks can improve access to quality health care services in rural, frontier, and underserved communities. TNGP networks are used to: (a) expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of health care services; (b) improve and expand the training of health care providers; and/or (c) expand and improve the quality of health information available to health care providers, and patients and their families, for decision-making. However, as noted below, because of legislative restrictions, grants will be limited to programs that serve rural communities, although grantees may be located in urban or rural areas.
Eligibility: Eligible applicants include rural or urban nonprofit entities that will provide services through a telehealth network. Each entity participating in the networks may be a nonprofit or for-profit entity. Faith-based, community-based organizations and tribal organizations are eligible to apply. Services must be provided to rural communities, although the applicant can be located in an urban area.
Availability: The FOA should be released in December 2012, with a start date of September 1, 2013.
Contact: Carlos Mena, MS, , Tel: (301) 443-3198

Upcoming Funding Opportunities in FY 2014

Rural Network Development Program: The primary objective of the Rural Health Network Development Grant Program (RHND) is to assist health networks enhance and build their capacity to help improve health care delivery in rural communities. The program seeks to increase access to and the quality of rural health care and ultimately, improve the health status of rural residents. Networks should have a significant history of organizational collaboration and must have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) prior to applying to this program. This program is a three year grant program with individual grant awards limited to a maximum of $180,000 per year.
Eligibility: The lead applicant has to be non-profit and in a rural area or a Federally-recognized tribal organization or an organization that provides services exclusively to migrant farm workers. In addition to this, the lead applicant has to form a network with at least two other organizations. These two other organizations can be rural, urban, non-profit or for-profit.
Availability: The FOA is estimated for release fall of 2013
Program Contact: Leticia Manning, or 301-443-8335.

Rural Network Planning Program: This one-year program supports planning activities to improve health care delivery in rural areas with a focus on supporting the development of networks to help hospitals, clinics and social service organizations work together to address local health care challenges. The program provides up to $85,000 and allows applicants to develop a business or strategic plan, conduct a needs assessment, conduct a HIT readiness and ultimately form a network.
Eligibility: The lead applicant has to be non-profit and in a rural area or a Federally-recognized tribal organization or an organization that provides services exclusively to migrant farm workers. In addition to this, the lead applicant has to form a network with at least two other organizations. These two other organizations can be rural, urban, non-profit or for-profit.
Availability: The FOA is estimated for release summer 2013
Program Contact: Linda Kwon, or 301-594-4205.

Upcoming Funding Opportunities in FY 2015

Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program: The purpose of the Outreach program is to promote rural health care services outreach by expanding the delivery of health care services to include new and enhanced services in rural areas. Applicants have to demonstrate the need in their community by providing local data compared to State and National level data. Applicants can use the funds to conduct health screenings, health fairs, education and training of providing and any other health service delivery activities that does not involve inpatient care. This program is a three year grant program with individual grant awards limited to a maximum of $150K a year.
Eligibility: The lead applicant has to be non-profit and in a rural area or a Federally-recognized tribal organization or an organization that provides services exclusively to migrant farm workers. In addition to this, the lead applicant has to form a network with at least two other organizations. These two other organizations can be rural, urban, non-profit or for-profit.
Availability: The FOA is estimated for release fall of 2014
Program Contact: Kathryn Umali, or 301-443-7444.

Rural Network Planning Program: This one-year program supports planning activities to improve health care delivery in rural areas with a focus on supporting the development of networks to help hospitals, clinics and social service organizations work together to address local health care challenges. The program provides up to $85,000 and allows applicants to develop a business or strategic plan, conduct a needs assessment, conduct a HIT readiness and ultimately form a network.
Eligibility: The lead applicant has to be non-profit and in a rural area or a Federally-recognized tribal organization or an organization that provides services exclusively to migrant farm workers. In addition to this, the lead applicant has to form a network with at least two other organizations. These two other organizations can be rural, urban, non-profit or for-profit.
Availability: The FOA is estimated for release summer 2014
Program Contact: Linda Kwon, or 301-594-4205.