Oregon Office of Rural Health

June 2021 Newsletter

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2021 Rural Health Hero of the Year

Orion Falvey OR HOTY 2020

Applications are open for the 2021 Rural Health Hero of the Year! This award recognizes an individual, provider, practice or community for making a distinguished, unique, or exceptional contribution to improving the quality of life for rural Oregonians.

Previous awardees have included:

  • A high school educator dedicated to introducing young people from rural Oregon to the diversity of health care career opportunities in their communities;
  • A determined administrator for a small rural clinic who kept it going against all odds; and
  • A nonprofit providing mental health services in a rural county.

Tell us about the rural health hero in your life!

Funding, Resources, and Educational Opportunities

Have You Visited the ORH Website Lately?

Check in regularly with the Oregon Office of Rural Health website for continuously updated information on upcoming events, rural resources, and related news. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

OHA Funding Opportunity: Outreach, Enrollment and System Navigation

Deadline: Proposals are due no later than 3:00 pm on June 16, 2021.

The Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) Community Partner Outreach Program (CPOP) has announced that that OHA will again provide a funding opportunity for community partners to provide local, on the ground outreach, application assistance and system navigation for uninsured or underinsured individuals and families. 

Grants awarded from this opportunity will address two primary activities:

  • Outreach to uninsured or underinsured Oregonians who may qualify for the Oregon Health Plan in all regions of the state, with a particular focus on reaching refugees, unaccompanied youth, tribes, domestic violence victims, ethnic minorities, rural communities, justice-involved individuals, LGBTQ population, and veterans.
  • Health care system navigation to any individual seeking assistance.

The Request for Grant Proposal (RFGP) was posted on ORPIN May 17 and will remain open until June 16, 2021. OHA anticipates final agreements will be signed in June 2021.

Grantee organizations are chosen through a formal RFGP process, and OHA will evaluate proposals and award funds based on a proposed work plan and budget, reserving the right to make an award to a lower scoring proposal that advances specific objectives like geographic and demographic diversity.

The solicitation documents can be found by searching the open opportunities for OHA-5152-21.

The ORPIN Help Desk is open during business hours (Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm PT) for support. Contact details are as follows:

  • By phone: (503) 373-1774. This is the ORPIN Automated Help Desk phone tree. It provides answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. You can also hit the star key * at any time to leave a message for a return call.
  • By email: Send an email to the ORPIN Help Desk for assistance. Please be sure to include your organization name in your message so they can easily find your account in ORPIN.

Telehealth Technology-Enabled Learning Program

Application Deadline June 25

HRSA has announced a new Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Telehealth Technology-Enabled Learning Program (TTELP) to support up to nine public or private, nonprofit or for-profit, entities to connect specialists at academic medical centers with primary care providers in rural areas to improve patient care in their communities. More specifically, project should address unmet needs for their target population which could include populations who have historically suffered from poorer health outcomes, health disparities and other inequities. 

HRSA expects to invest approximately $4.275 million for this program that aims to improve the quality of rural health care through an evidence-based approach to primary care that has proven effective in rural areas. Objectives for this five-year program include improved health outcomes, better engagement of patients and their caregivers, and continuous improvement to focus areas such as infectious diseases, or HIV/AIDs, behavioral health, substance use disorder (including opioid use disorder), prenatal care, maternal care, and those recovering from COVID-19 and facing longer-term health care challenges. Recipients are also encouraged to implement quality improvement activities that measure value by outcomes.

New HHS Funding for RHCs to Strengthen COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation and Increase Vaccine Confidence

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will make new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funding available for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) to strengthen COVID-19 testing and mitigation and increase vaccine confidence. Upcoming funding opportunities include:

Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) Program – Application Deadline June 23

HRSA’s FORHP will make grant awards to all eligible RHCs that apply and have a complete and acceptable application through the Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) Program. RHCs may use this grant funding to increase vaccine confidence, improve health care in rural areas, and reinforce key messages about prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Interested RHCs should review the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and start the three-step grant registration processThe full registration process can take time to complete so start now. The application deadline is June 23, 2021.

For some grants, FORHP requires that applicants be located in an eligible rural area. This RHC program DOES NOT have any rural area location requirements. If you are an active Medicare-certified RHC, you are eligible for this program as long as you follow the program participation requirements. 

FORHP will hold a webinar for applicants: 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021 from 7:00 – 8:00 am, PT 
Dial-in: 833 568 8864 Webinar ID: 160 410 8840

A recording will be made available after the webinar for those who cannot attend. For questions about the program, email RHCVaxConfidence@hrsa.gov.

The National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC) recently hosted a webinar titled, RHC COVID Initiatives, that offered preparatory information about this opportunity.  You can join the program mailing list for additional program announcements and updates. Contact the program with additional questions. 

Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Program - Coming Soon!

RHCs that have met the requirements for the RHC COVID-19 Testing Program will receive a one-time allocation of up to $100,000 per clinic site automatically deposited in the bank account of the corresponding TIN organization in June 2021. RHCs do not need to apply for payments for this program and the funds are specifically for rural areas. Ineligible RHCs that are not current with reporting of testing data on rhccovid19reporting.com will have the opportunity to catch up for future program consideration, dependent on the availability of funds. 

You can join the RHC COVID-19 Testing Program mailing list for additional program announcements and updates, or contact them with additional questions.  

Free CEU Credits: OHSU Center for Ethics in Health Care Virtual Lecture Series

From May through November 2021, the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) Center for Ethics in Health Care virtual lecture series will examine various health care practices through the shared lenses of compassion and solidarity. The goal of this lecture series is to illuminate complex medical topics including:

  • Ethics in the end-of-life context;
  • Justice and equity in the Pacific Northwest;
  • How to improve health literacy and become a more compassionate communicator;
  • Why storytelling can help prevent burnout and make clinical practice more humane; and
  • Ways in which grief and trauma can be diminished through friendship and solidarity.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Begins Enrollment

The Emergency Broadband Benefit, a new, temporary FCC program to help families and households with incomes below 135% FPL to afford internet service during the pandemic, began accepting applications on May 12. Applications will be funded on a first-come-first-served basis.

Eligible households will receive a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service, and a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. Eligible households can enroll by visiting the website or by contacting a participating broadband provider by state. For more information, see these FAQs for consumers.

Rural Health Resources—Mitigating Misinformation: Trusted Health Information Resources for Rural Health Practitioners

The National Library of Medicine offers a wealth of information meant to advance the progress of medicine and improve public health. They recently hosted a webinar, Mitigating Misinformation:  Trusted Health Information Resources for Rural Practitioners.

Other great resources and links include the following:

Mitigating Misinformation

Key COVID-19 Resources

Key Rural Health Practitioner Resources

Key Patient Health Resources

Soda Mountain


Helping EMS in Rural Oregon (HERO) Agency Training Grant Application

ORH is pleased to offer a competitive HERO award application period for 2021. The application period opened June 1, and closes at 5:00 pm PST on June 30, 2021. Rural and/or frontier agencies may apply for awards of up to $2500 each. Awardees will be notified by July 16, 2021.

TO APPLY: The application form will be posted to the HERO web page on June 4, 2021. Applicants should complete and submit the fillable PDF form via email with the subject line “HERO 2021 Application.”

If you represent a rural EMS agency that wishes to conduct an in-house training, and perhaps include EMS personnel from surrounding communities, this grant is for you. Funds may also be used to send staff to training that cannot be offered locally. You may apply for funding for any training class or exercise completed within 12 months of receipt of the award.

Please note: applicant agencies must be located in a rural or frontier area and recognized by the Oregon Health Authority EMS & Trauma Systems Program as an organization that participates in Oregon’s 911 response system. Paramedic-level education and certification cannot be funded.

For questions about HERO, or to add your contact information to the ORH EMS mailing list, please contact Rebecca Dobert | 971-271-0481.



Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program Grant (SHIP) Updates

SHIP Awards Increase for 2021

The SHIP program continues to grow with the FY21 Annual SHIP award opening June 1, 2020 SHIP COVID awards scheduled to close no later than September 30, 2021, and an incoming American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funded SHIP award anticipated to open in summer 2021.

All of Oregon’s SHIP-eligible hospitals qualify for any and all of the SHIP awards. 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.

FY21 SHIP Period Begins June 1, 2021

The 2021-2022 SHIP grant year begins on June 1, 2021. ORH received the Notice of Award (NOA) on May 21, and set up activity is underway. Oregon received a per-awardee increase of $981, so final individual award amounts are expected to be just over $11,000 for the 25 hospitals that applied to receive FY21 SHIP funds.

Please be ready to work with Rebecca Dobert to review and approve your FY21 scope of work, and complete and return award set-up paperwork beginning in June.

SHIP ARPA Award Application Anticipated to Open July 1, 2021

All SHIP-eligible hospitals can receive SHIP ARPA funding of up to $230,000 per award if they submit an application.

The FY21, ARPA-funded SHIP COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation initiative will provide one-time funding to support hospitals for testing education, establishment of alternate testing sites, test result processing, arranging for test result processing, and engaging in other activities within the CDC Community Mitigation Framework to address COVID-19 in rural communities.

HRSA anticipates $398 million will be available to support the SHIP ARPA awards. It is anticipated that SHIP ARPA funding will provide up to $230,000 per hospital, to increase COVID-19 testing efforts, expand access to testing in rural communities, and expand the range of mitigation activities to meet community needs.

SHIP ARPA award recipients may not use grant funds for costs that are reimbursed or compensated by other federal or state programs that provide for such benefits, including but not limited to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, the $100 billion in the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, or unemployment compensation. Also, funds may not be used to purchase  vaccines or for vaccine distribution activity.

Notice of Award (NOA) and Reporting Requirements:

  • NOAs are expected to be released July 1, 2021.
  • The award project period will be July 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022

Hospitals participating in the SHIP ARPA program will be required to report to an online website on number of tests provided and categories in which funding is spent. More details to come later.

An interest form has been sent to all Oregon SHIP hospital leaders for them to complete and return to the Office of Rural Health. The form includes additional details and information about the SHIP ARPA program, and an area to indicate hospital interest in accepting funds. ORH will assess statewide interest in the SHIP ARPA funding and work with applicants to submit applications in June 2021.

Please contact ORH Field Services Program Manager Rebecca Dobert | 971-271-0481 with any and all SHIP questions.

St. Charles Madras Hospital Ranked Third Most Inclusive Hospital in the Nation

Work at St. Charles Madras Hospital (SCMH) to become a culturally competent organization continues to receive well-deserved recognition. In May, the hospital was included in the Lown Institute Hospital Index, earning a rank of third in the nation for racial inclusivity.

The Index is the first ranking to examine the racial inclusivity of over 3,200 U.S. hospitals to assess their success at serving the people of color living in their communities. To create the rankings, the Institute assessed how well the demographics of a hospital’s Medicare patients matched the demographics of the hospital’s surrounding communities.

Congratulations to the SCMH cultural competence project lead CNO Candy Canga Picar, CEO David Golda, and all of the staff and personnel at St. Charles who daily work to provide the best care, accessible to the entire community.

If your health care facility is interested in learning more about implementing a cultural competence project, contact Rebecca Dobert | 971-271-0481.

Columbia River Gorge


Loan Repayment Option for Mental and Behavior Health Professionals

Deadline for current cycle: June 24, 2021 at 5:00 pm PT

The Oregon Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program (OBHLRP) is now open for health care professional applications. OBHLRP supports rural and urban underserved communities in the recruitment and retention of high quality mental and behavioral health professionals. These professionals work in inpatient, outpatient, and community care settings serving patients regardless of their source of coverage (Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance, etc.).

OBHLRP accepts applications from Qualified Mental Health Associates (QMHAs), Qualified Mental Health Professionals (QMHPs), pre-licensed and licensed mental and behavioral health care providers; in exchange for service at a qualifying practice site, participants receive tax-free funds to repay qualifying educational loan debt. Eligible behavioral health professionals are highly encouraged to apply as early in the application cycle as possible to allow time for information requests from ORH.

Completed OBHLRP applications, and all required attachments, must be submitted no later than 5:00 pm PT on June 24, 2021. For more information on OBHLRP, including the provider application and FAQs, visit the program webpage.

Oregon Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program Updates

Deadline for current cycle: July 29, 2021 at 5:00 pm PT

Oregon Health Care Provider Incentive Loan Repayment offers licensed health care providers, as well as pre-licensed mental health providers, an opportunity to apply to receive tax-free funds to repay qualifying educational loan debt. The program recently increased its total possible award amount from $35,000 per obligation year to $50,000 per obligation year. Previously, the program required that providers be working at least 40 hours per week to be considered for a full time award; the program now only requires 32 hours of direct patient care for a provider to be considered for a full time award.

The current provider application cycle closes at 5:00 pm on July 29, 2021. Eligible providers are highly encouraged to apply as early in the cycle as possible to allow time for information requests about their application. Eligible providers who are unable to submit a completed application before 5:00 pm on July 29, 2021 may apply in the next program application cycle, which opens July 30, 2021 and closes at 5:00 pm on October 7, 2021. For more information on the program, including qualification requirements, FAQs, and applications visit the program webpage.  

The Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment Program is Accepting Applications

The Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is currently accepting applications for its 2020-2021 cycle. Unlike most loan repayment programs, SLRP’s provider application process is not competitive. As long as SLRP funds are available, if an eligible provider (meeting all program requirements) working at a SLRP qualifying practice site submits a complete SLPR application, that provider will be awarded.

An awardee’s practice site must provide 50% of the award amount, plus a 10% administrative fee. If an awardee is funded at an amount that is fiscally unfeasible for their practice site to participate, the awardee and practice site may negotiate an award amount that would allow the practice site to participate. For more information on this program, including provider and site applications, please visit the program webpage.

Shore Acres State Park


Congratulations to the 2021 Elder Service Innovation Grant Awardees!

ORH’s Elder Service Innovation (ESI) grants fund innovative projects that will create or enhance services for elders to help them age in place in rural Oregon. Projects may be entirely new or build upon existing services, but must be innovative and potentially serve as a best practice model to be shared around the state and country. 

The 2021 ESI awardees are: 

  • Bridge Meadows—Program supplies to replicate their innovative, intergenerational program at their new location in Redmond, Oregon.
  • Evergreen Family Medicine—Additional telehealth equipment to meet their elder patients where they’re at.
  • Lower Umpqua Hospital District—Family Resource Center Fall Assessment Program.

Please visit the ESI grant page to read about these projects, and reach out to Rose Locklear with questions.

Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation Awards Gratitude for Healthcare Heroes Grants to CAHs

Five Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) located across Oregon have been awarded a cumulative total of $85,050 to honor their health care and frontline workers who, despite the challenging and exhausting circumstances of the pandemic, have showed resilience, determination, and innovation. 

The Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation, based in Wilsonville, wanted to acknowledge health care heroes by offering grants of up to $25,000 to be used to celebrate, support, and encourage our frontline health care teams after a year of depleting and often thankless work of fighting COVID-19.

 “We know there is no gratitude sufficient for what these folks have done for us – our families, our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends – but we hope we can do something to make their lives a little easier, healthier, happier, or appreciated,” says Tyler Hobbs, Director of Foundation Operations.  

Each of the awarded facilities plan to use the funds in similar, yet different ways. Coincidently, each hospital will provide gift cards to local businesses for dining, shopping, or coffee. The funding will provide a nice meal or treat for hundreds of staff across the facilities, and it will also go directly back into supporting local businesses and economies. One hospital also plans to use the funds to add a shade deck with tables and awning for a place for staff to relax. 

The timing of the grant was just in time for distribution during Hospital Appreciation Week!

Rural Oregon Fire Department Provides COVID-19 Vaccines So No One Gets Left Behind

As reported in the latest Oregon Health Authority’s Oregon Vaccine News, the Mist-Birkenfeld Rural Fire Protection District have mobilized to bring COVID-19 vaccines to people in rural areas including those who don’t have internet access, cell phones and/or are homebound.

Welcome a New Clinic!

The Coquille Indian Tribe is opening an outpatient medical clinic in Eugene. The clinic will offer primary care and same-day care to all Native American and Alaska Native patients, as well as to members of the general public.

Oregon RHC Telehealth Story Map Now Available

ORH created an ArcGIS Story Map: Oregon Rural Health Clinic Telehealth: 2020 in partnership with the Telehealth Alliance of Oregon (TAO) and the Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center (NRTRC). This work contextualizes and catalogs the health care services that Oregon’s Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) are able to deliver via telehealth.

The Oregon Rural Health Clinic Telehealth: 2020 Story Map will also be available through the Telehealth Alliance of Oregon’s new website when it becomes available early this summer. Look for an announcement when the new site is officially open.

ORH extends its gratitude to the RHCs that assisted in this project by describing the telehealth services that they’ve implemented to address their community’s health needs. We look forward to continue to support these efforts.

If you have any questions about telehealth in Oregon or the Story Map, please contact Rose Locklear.

Did You Know?

The Areas of Unmet Health Care Need Report is published every August and ranks all 129 primary care service areas in Oregon according to nine variables that measure access to primary care, dental care, and mental health care. You can use this report, and the numerous maps and tables within, to quantify whether the communities you work with have issues with access to basic health care. You can compare your scores with scores for other communities, or urban, rural, and frontier areas, or the state as a whole.

Access the 2020 report, and look for the 2021 report later this summer.

ORH Spotlight – Emerson Ong, Data/GIS Analyst

Emerson 250

Meet Emerson, our in-house data expert. When you visit ORH’s website, you will see extensive evidence of his great work, such as the static and dynamic maps of Oregon overlaid with various health care data. He also writes the Annual Unmet Health Care Need Report (AUHCN), builds and manages all the databases used by the ORH, and so much more.

Emerson recently celebrated 20 years at the ORH. He originally graduated college with a degree in graphic design, but quickly pivoted after discovering the design field wasn’t the best fit. After landing a temp job as an assistant in nursing administration at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Emerson taught himself how to use Microsoft Access and was hired permanently to manage their databases and design nursing incident surveys. Luckily for us, he moved to Oregon and came to work supporting rural health care. The maps and data Emerson produces have been helpful for numerous reports, grants, and projects, something that he finds the most satisfying aspect of his work.

When not at work improving the lives of Oregonians with his skills, Emerson can be found enjoying his favorite Oregon location: the coast. Favorite spots include the beauty of Astoria, the vintage bumper cars in Seaside, the antique stores in Lincoln City, to the redwoods near Brookings, and up and down 101.

Contact Emerson if you have questions about maps or data, or to congratulate him on many successful years at ORH. Thank you for your work Emerson, you are an integral part of our team and we appreciate you!