Oregon Office of Rural Health

June 2020 Newsletter

ORH Newsletter

Nominate Your 2020 Oregon Rural Health Hero of the Year!

The Oregon Office of Rural Health is seeking nominations for the 2020 Oregon Rural Health Hero of the Year Award. The award honors an outstanding person, program or organization that has improved the quality and availability of health care in rural communities.

Nominations for the 2020 Oregon Rural Health Hero of the Year will be accepted now through July 31. The awardee will be honored at the 37th Annual Oregon Rural Health Conference this fall.

For more information, including selection criteria and nomination packets, please contact Laura Potter | 503 494-5244.

37th Annual Oregon Rural Health Conference is Going Virtual!

ORH will always prioritize the safety and well-being of our attendees and rural Oregon. For this reason, the ORH has decided to host our 37th Annual Oregon Rural Health Conference events online in a streamlined, interactive environment that includes enhanced opportunities for learning.
The Conference will be held during the month of November, culminating on November 19, 2020, National Rural Health Day!
Stayed tuned – final dates and registration information are coming!

Two Oregon Critical Access Hospitals Receive National Recognition

Congratulations to Saint Alphonsus Medical Center—Baker City and Wallowa Memorial Hospital for being recognized by The Chartis Group and The National Rural Health Association as Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) among 1,343 peer CAHs across the nation! Wallowa Memorial Hospital was also named as a Top 20 Critical Access Hospital.    

Each year, rural hospitals are analyzed by The Chartis Group through the lens of the Hospital Strength INDEX, a comprehensive and objective assessment tool for rural hospital performance in the U.S. Amidst uncertainty, transition and strain, these top performers excel in managing risk, achieving higher quality, securing better outcomes, increasing patient satisfaction and operating at a lower cost than their peers. These groups serve as a benchmark for other rural facilities as they strive to achieve similar results and provide a blueprint for successfully navigating the uncertainty of the new health care environment.

2020 Oregon Academy of Family Physicians Doctor of the Year

Congratulations to Gary Plant, MD, FAAFP of Madras who was recognized as the 2020 Oregon Academy of Family Physicians Doctor of the Year!

June 2020 Helping EMS in Rural Oregon Agency Training Grant Application

ORH is pleased to announce the next application cycle of the Helping EMS in Rural Oregon (HERO) grant. Applications will be accepted from June 1 to June 30, 2020 at 5 pm.

Four rural and/or frontier agencies will receive up to $2,500 each via competitive application. Awardees will be notified by July 10.

A generous donation from the board of the former Port Orford Community Ambulance Service funds the 2020 HERO award in support of rural and frontier EMS agencies.  

Contact Rebecca Dobert | dobert@ohsu.edu  | (971) 271-0481 with any questions.

2020 Oregon EMS Conference Update

The Oregon EMS Conference remains scheduled to take place September 23-25 in Deschutes County. The planning committee will meet in early July to weigh current public health advisories and will adhere to all state and federal meeting recommendations. Scholarships are available.

Oregon EMS Conference Session Recordings Available

Recordings of the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) EMS virtual conference sessions held in April are available via Oregon iLearn  (free account required to access recordings). The sessions are the result of OHA collaborating with the Eastern Oregon, Newport, and State of Jefferson EMS Conferences to move their content to an online format to maintain social distancing.

Oregon Strip Mine

Upcoming Online Trainings from Northeast Oregon Network

The Northeast Oregon Network (NEON) is offering two online trainings health care professionals. The first session, Intermediate Motivational Interviewing, will be held June 5 from 9 am to 12 pm. It offers an interactive training that helps professionals sharpen their skills to help people move toward positive changes and better health. Participants will apply their motivational interviewing skills in a hands-on virtual practice environment with coaching and support. Three continuing education credits are available.

In the second session, Recognizing and Responding to Compassion Fatigue, participants will explore burnout, different types of trauma, and compassion fatigue through activities that focus on practicing self-care. Two continuing educations credits are available.

Learn more and register here.

COVID-19 Response ECHO for Oregon Clinicians

Oregon clinicians are invited to participate in the second cohort of the COVID-19 Response ECHO for Oregon Clinicians, sponsored by the Oregon ECHO Network.

This eight session program supports clinicians, staff and other health care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jointly presented with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), sessions will look at Oregon's response to the pandemic, the state of the science in treatment and prevention, and offer guidance to practices for systems change. This is an opportunity to present your tough cases and receive feedback from a multidisciplinary team of specialists and your peers.

Program objectives include:

  • Learning strategies to optimize the treatment and prevention of COVID-19 while keeping staff and others safe;
  • Staying current on OHA’s latest guidance for Oregon health care practices;
  • Receiving guidance on evidence-based treatments for COVID-19; and
  • Sharing and receiving advice on systems change within practices.

Sessions for this cohort will occur via videoconference on the second and fourth Thursdays, June 11 through September 24 from 12 pm to 1:15 pm.

More information is available here. Registration here.

Webinar: Introduction to 2020 Oregon HPV Vaccination Week

Oregon Pacific AHEC invites you to register for the webinar “Introduction to 2020 Oregon HPV Vaccination Week”! It will take place on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at 11:00 AM PDT.

Attendance is FREE and you can obtain 1 CME credit. You can register here today. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about how to join the webinar.

If you would like more information on this event, please consult this flyer or contact Carmen Boone.


Oregon Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Application Cycle Open

The Oregon Health Care Provider Incentive Loan Program is accepting applications from licensed primary care providers as well as pre-licensed mental health providers who have completed a master's level or higher degree program. The application deadline for this cycle is July 30. Pre-licensed applicants must be registered with their respective professional board and working toward licensure at a qualifying practice site. Visit the program webpage for more information, including provider and site requirements, as well program applications.

The Oregon Health Care Provider Incentive Loan Program was established by the Oregon Legislature to help support underserved communities in their recruitment and retention of high quality providers. In exchange for service at a qualifying practice site, participants receive funds to repay qualifying educational loan debt.

Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment Program Funds Going Fast

Providers who qualify for the Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment (SLRP) fund are encouraged to apply as soon as possible before program funds are exhausted. Unlike most loan repayment programs that make awards based on a competitive application cycle, SLRP offers awards on a “first apply, first awarded” basis.

SLRP is a loan repayment program for primary care providers who work at approved practice sites in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). The program is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), with matching funds from an awardee’s practice site. In exchange for tax free loan repayment funds, SLRP requires a minimum initial two year service obligation for full-time providers, and a minimum four year service obligation for part-time providers. Providers may qualify for up to two one-year continuations beyond their initial service obligation.

Learn more about SLRP, including qualification requirements, FAQs, and applications here.

2020 National Health Service Corps (NHSC) New Site Application Cycle is Open

The 2020 National Health Service Corps (NHSC) New Site Application cycle opened on May 26 and will close on July 21 at 11:59 pm ET. Eligible sites include health care facilities that provide outpatient, ambulatory and primary health care services (medical, dental and behavioral and/or substance abuse treatment) to populations residing in high-need urban and rural areas. Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) are the only eligible inpatient facilities and must be affiliated with an NHSC-approved outpatient clinic. Click here to learn more about the process of, and benefits to, becoming an NHSC-approved site.

HOWTO Announces Funding Opportunity

A new cycle of the Healthy Oregon Workforce Training Opportunity (HOWTO) Grant Program opens June 1, 2020 and will accept applications through August 14, 2020.  Program details, including timelines and eligibility requirements can be found on the HOWTO webpage. In this cycle of funding the program strongly encourages oral and behavioral health programs to apply.

HOWTO provides funding for innovative, transformative, community-based health care training programs that expand the health professional workforce in rural and medically-underserved areas in Oregon.   In 2018 and 2019, HOWTO awarded approximately $8 million to 10 local organizations to address current and future health care workforce shortages.

Lake Cushman

New Telehealth Grant Opportunities Available

Several federal grant opportunities to support telehealth initiatives have been announced recently including the following:

FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program: This program provides $200 million in funding, appropriated by Congress as part of the CARES Act, to help health care providers provide connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Awards will be made until funds run out or the emergency ends. The FCC will award up to $1 million per organization, though small requests are funded too. This is a good opportunity to acquire a telehealth platform and/or remote patient monitoring equipment.

HRSA Telehealth Network Grant Program:  HRSA has made $8.7 million available for $300,000 per year, four year awards. The funding opportunity is aimed toward promoting rural tele-emergency services with an emphasis on tele-stroke, tele-behavioral health, and tele-emergency medical services (Tele-EMS). This will be achieved by enhancing telehealth networks to deliver 24-hour Emergency Department consultation services via telehealth to rural providers without emergency care specialists. Grants will fund programmatic costs such as personnel. Applications are due by June 15, 2020.

Telehealth Resources at Your Fingertips

ORH has published COVID-19 Telehealth Policy & Payment for Oregon Clinics Hospitals, a repository that contains telehealth policy and resources related to COVID-19. This online resource is regularly updated and includes frequent notices such upcoming telehealth webinars.

The telehealth repository is housed on ORH’s COVID-19 webpage, which includes other resources for Critical Access Hospitals, Rural Health Clinics, EMS, rural communities, and upcoming grant opportunities.


Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program Grants

It is a busy time for the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) with three SHIP awards in process:  FY 19 SHIP awards winding down, FY 20 SHIP awards and SHIP COVID-19 awards in process. If you are an awardee, please be sure to review the information about each grant below and request clarification as needed.

FY 2019 Grant Year Winding Down

Twenty-one of Oregon’s 32 SHIP eligible hospitals participated in the FY19 award. The 2019-2020 SHIP grant year ended May 31, 2020. Recognizing that pandemic response efforts put many FY19 SHIP projects on hold, HRSA issued the following guidance:

“FORHP recognizes that many hospitals are working to address or may be impacted by COVID-19 emergencies within their communities, which may impact their ability to meet grant requirements and complete activities listed on their work plan. 

If hospitals are not able to complete FY 19 activities they may:

  • Select an alternative activity under the FY19 Allowable Investments available on the SHIP TA website;
  • Continue the existing activity to the next budget year via carryover; or
  • Cancel the activity and not utilize the funds for the FY 19 budget year.”

Please contact Rebecca Dobert | 971-271-0481 to update your hospital’s project status and potential carry over.

For hospitals that have completed FY19 work, please submit a final report, Certificate of Completion and invoice, if you haven’t already.

Open now: FY20-21 SHIP Period Begins June 1

Twenty-five of Oregon’s 32 SHIP-eligible hospitals have applied to receive FY20 SHIP fund and the grant year begins June 1. Set up activity is underway and final award amounts will be between $10,200 and $10,400 per hospital.

For those hospitals that applied, please be prepared to review and approve your scope of work and complete and return sub award amendment paperwork beginning in June.

SHIP COVID-19 Awards Underway

All 32 of Oregon’s SHIP-eligible hospitals are receiving SHIP COVID-19 awards. The SHIP COVID-19 budget period is April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021. Funding for this supplementary SHIP award was provided from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and is intended to provide support for expenditures to plan, prepare and respond to the coronavirus pandemic.  All awards are in process and final report guidance was issued to all recipients by May 31.

About SHIP

The annual SHIP award assists hospitals in meeting the costs of implementing data system requirements established under the Medicare Program, and with the ability to increase and track improvements to the value and quality of the care they provide. Eligible small rural hospitals include hospitals with 49 available beds or less and may be for-profit, not-for-profit or tribal organizations, and include Critical Access Hospitals.

Contact Rebecca Dobert | (971) 271-0481 with any SHIP questions.

field power tower

Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Planning

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Planning (RCORP-Planning). HRSA will award approximately 50 grants to rural communities to enhance capacity to address substance use disorder, including opioid use disorder (OUD). Applications are due by July 13, 2020.

Successful RCORP-Planning award recipients will receive up to $200,000 over an 18-month period to conduct a series of planning activities, engage multi-sector consortiums, and participate in the RCORP-Planning learning collaborative. While the focus of RCORP-Planning is primarily OUD, applicants may also choose to address an additional substance of concern in the target population based on identified needs.

View the funding opportunity on grants.gov. Before applying for RCORP-Planning on grants.gov, applicants must register in grants.gov, SAM, and DUNS. These registration processes can take up to a month to complete.

FORHP will hold a webinar for applicants on Wednesday, May 27 at 3 pm EDT. A recording will be made available for those who cannot attend. Please reference page ii in the NOFO for the dial-in and playback information for the webinar. You can also contact sodonnell@hrsa.gov with questions pertaining to the NOFO.

OHA Seeks Feedback on Proposed Strategies for State Health Improvement Plan

The 2020-2024 State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) addresses five priority areas: institutional bias; adversity, trauma and toxic stress; behavioral health; equitable access to preventive care; and economic drivers of health including housing, transportation and living wage. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will launch the 2020-2024 SHIP as a tool for our state’s recovery from COVID-19. Co-created with over 100 community partners, the SHIP is designed to respond to priorities that communities identified in 2018 and 2019. Prior to COVID-19, social determinants of health were identified as critical to health in Oregon. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the short and long-term trajectory in each of these five priority areas, making SHIP implementation even more critical.

You are invited to help inform strategies for the next SHIP. Subcommittees have been meeting since last fall to identify goals, measures and strategies. OHA needs your help to understand if the proposed strategies are the right strategies to improve equity and health. There are a number of ways to provide your feedback and help spread the word:

  • An online survey (in English and Spanish) is available to collect your feedback on these issues. Please take and share this survey with your professional and personal networks via email listservs, social media platforms and other communication channels.   
  • Provide written feedback to OHA. All organizations, coalitions and community groups are welcome to submit feedback regarding the proposed strategies. 

Feedback from communities is being collected through June 10. The feedback collected will be shared with subcommittees prior to finalization of the SHIP. OHA will launch the final 2020-2024 SHIP in early August.

The Oregon SHIP is a five-year plan that identifies our state’s health priorities with strategies that will lead to improvements in outcomes. The SHIP is a key initiative of the OHA that aims to advance health equity. The SHIP is intended to inform Community Health Improvement Plans, and state agency policies, partnerships and investments.

Please contact OHA if you would like this information in another language or format.

For other questions or comments, contact Christy Hudson, Public Health Division, OHA.

Oregon Lake

CMS/Medicare Ground Transporter Data Collection: May 2020 Update

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a modification to the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System.

Ambulance services selected to participate in year one reporting can choose a new reporting period beginning in 2021, rather than reporting for 2020. Please read the full announcement, and access the most recent version of COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers.

Oregon POLST Forms Can Be Completed Virtually or By Phone

The Oregon Portable Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Coalition improves the quality of life for Oregonians nearing the end of life by providing an evidence-based, patient-centered, voluntary process that elicits, records, and honors the treatment goals of those with advanced illness and frailty in a compassionate manner that is respectful of the inherent dignity of the individual. The POLST form transforms a patient’s treatment plan and care goals into a medical order. Emergency medical responders and health care professionals follow these orders unless there is new information from a patient or appropriate surrogate/health care decision maker. The Oregon POLST Registry is a secure electronic record of POLST orders. The registry allows providers who are treating patients to access POLST orders if the paper copy cannot be found.

Submissions to the Oregon POLST Registry have declined nearly 40% during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following established standards facilitate virtual POLST form completion: 

  1. Verbal orders (following institutional verbal order procedures) are valid and accepted by both EMS and the registry.  
  2. The patient or surrogate signature is not required on the Oregon POLST form. It is necessary to indicate with whom the POLST form was discussed (see Section C of the POLST Form).
  3. Photocopies on white paper are valid.
  4. Health care professionals print blank POLST forms from the Professional Resources section POLST website.

The Oregon POLST Coalition produced a two-minute video that identifies three ways to overcome logistical barriers to completing POLST forms during virtual visits.

Public Utility Commission Wants to Hear From Oregonians About Their Telecommunications Serivce

The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) has launched a survey to learn what Oregon residents think of available telecommunications services. Residential telephone and cellular service customers are encouraged to take this survey to provide input about the quality of service received and whether there is access to appropriate telecommunications services for individuals and communities to thrive.

The survey is intended to provide a voice to Oregon residents using telephone and cell services. The results will help inform a report that is due to the Oregon State Legislature as part of our investigation required by House Bill 3065, which passed in the 2019 Legislative session. This bill directed the PUC to establish a public process to investigate the continuing relevance of the “carrier of last resort” or COLR obligation on the state’s telecommunications providers given the recent changes in technology and policy in the industry. The COLR obligation requires telephone companies to provide access to telephone service in their designated service territory without discrimination.

Summer on the Water in Oregon

The Oregon Health Authority reminds people that as summer approaches and communities around the state begin reopening amid the COVID-19 outbreak, be on the lookout for toxin-producing cyanobacteria blooms when recreating in Oregon lakes, rivers and reservoirs.

To learn more, including if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific water body, visit the Harmful Algae Bloom website or call the Oregon Public Health Division toll-free information line at 877-290-6767.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Oregon Sunset