Oregon Office of Rural Health

March 2020 Newsletter

Oregon Field

4th Annual Forum on Aging in Rural Oregon to be Held in Bend May 27-29

The 4th annual Forum on Aging in Rural Oregon will be held at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes May 27-29, 2020 in Bend. The event highlights community-based strategies to support aging in place in rural and frontier communities, including sessions on the built environment, mental health, the nuances of health insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, and veteran benefits), isolation and loneliness, disaster preparedness, culturally competent care for marginalized populations and more.

A workshop for long-term care providers prefaces the Forum. It can be attended as a standalone, but is included with Forum registration.

This event has developed a loyal following of health care and social service providers as well as community members from all parts of the state. We look forward to seeing you there! The agenda, event details, and registration are here. If you have questions, please contact Rose Locklear.

Planning Underway for the 2020 Rural Health Clinic Listening Tour. Please Consider Participating!

The 2020 listening tour, hosted by ORH, will bring Oregon’s federally designated Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) together with heath care stakeholders to discuss RHC’s biggest successes and most pressing concerns. We believe that this is an excellent opportunity for stakeholder agencies to coordinate efforts with their local RHCs to explore where joining forces can enhance collective efforts of health care improvement.

Information on previous listening tours, including the 2016 and 2017 final reports can be found here. The listening tour webpage will be updated as planning progresses.

We would love to hear from you about your interest in participating as a clinic or a stakeholder! If you would like to join us in the tour, please contact Rose Locklear. Rose will also reach out to Oregon RHCs and stakeholders soon about participating.

Oregon Lake

Join us for the Best Telehealth Conference in the Northwest!

The Telehealth Alliance of Oregon (TAO) and the Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center (NRTRC) are partnering to host Telehealth 20/20: New Perspectives, Innovation Insights, and Expanded Vision of Care Delivery April 15-17 in Portland, Oregon.

The conference is packed with information on how to start telehealth programs, telehealth policy updates, new technology development, and innovative programs created by providers from both urban and rural areas. The conference is for healthcare providers, administrators, IT professionals, policymakers, payers and students. There is the opportunity to network with others to share challenges and achievements and get to know the telehealth community within TAO and NRTRC. A full conference agenda will be posted on the website in early March. In the meantime, you can register for the conference here.

If you are not already a TAO member, you can join here. Once your membership payment has been received, you will receive an email with a code to register for the conference as a TAO member.

Tune in to ECHO

ECHO (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) offers Oregon health care professionals the opportunity to learn to care for complex patients from specialist faculty, get recommendations on their toughest cases, and earn no-cost CME credit–all from the comfort of their home or office via a virtual learning environment.

The Oregon ECHO Network is offering the following programs this spring. Click on each link for program descriptions and schedules:

For more information and to register, visit the Oregon ECHO network webpage.

LiveWell Method: An Opportunity for Oregon’s Assisted Living and Residential Care Communities

The state of Oregon is supporting assisted living and residential care communities to participate in LiveWell Method ™ training events, train the trainer events, learning collaboratives, and coaching in selected communities. Training and coaching opportunities are occurring throughout Oregon for individuals and communities seeking to bolster their quality assurance and performance improvement (QAPI) policies. You can learn more and/or sign your team up for training events here.

Input Sought for HITOC Strategic Plan

Oregon’s Health IT Oversight Council (HITOC) seeks statewide input as they update their strategic plan. A series of public listening sessions is underway, with access for participants in all parts of the state via in-person and webinar options. HITOC’s statewide strategies include roles for the state, hospitals and health systems, CCOs and insurers, clinicians and clinic staff, technology partners, consumers and patients. Each of the listening sessions is geared toward a specific audience, and each is open to the public. The first listening session was tailored to Technology Partners and took place on February 11, 2020. You can access the recording here. The second session was February 25th and focused on oral health stakeholders, you can access the recording here.

Upcoming sessions are scheduled as follows:

CCO Listening Session
3/4/2020, 1-4 PM Webinar or Salem

Consumer Listening Session
3/10/2020, 1-4 PM Webinar or Portland

Behavioral Health Listening Session
4/16/2020, 1-4 PM Webinar or Portland

General Listening Session
4/21/2020, 1-4 PM Webinar or Portland

Oregon Strip Mine

Oregon CAHs Participate in Rapid Improvement Training Collaborative

ORH has partnered with SigmaMed Solutions to offer the Thrive, Don’t Just Survive! Rapid Improvement Training Collaborative. Seven of Oregon’s Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) will participate in the webinars and in person trainings focused on training participants to rapidly fix an urgent improvement priority, while mentoring a team in the effective use of the Lean Six Sigma process improvement methodology. Members from this collaborative will also obtain their Greenbelt Certification by participating in additional training and mentoring exercises.  

Oregon CAHs Participate in the University of Washington Tele-Antimicrobial Stewardship Program (UW-TASP)

ORH continues to support Oregon Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) in the implementation and sustainability of their Antimicrobial Stewardship Programs (ASPs) by offering subscriptions to UW-TASP. The program offers weekly ECHO-based sessions targeted toward ongoing education and the implementation and sustainability of their ASPs. Additionally, participants have access to the UW-TASP portal, which houses a multitude of resources, protocols, and tool kits, as well as access to technical assistance from the UW-TASP team of infectious disease experts. Six CAHs are taking advantage of this Flex-funded opportunity!

Ignite the Patient Experience: On-Site Assessments

Two Oregon CAHs will participate in Custom Learning Systems’ Ignite the Patient Experience, a two-day on-site assessment this June. The program includes an in-depth, HCAHPS-focused audit, comprehensive assessment, and leadership education program to help CAHs become the hospital and employer of choice within their communities. To date, ORH has supported nine CAHs in obtaining an Ignite the Patient Experience assessment through the Flex program.

For questions about quality improvement and MBQIP, contact Stacie Rothwell.

Upcoming Brown Bag Lunch and Learn Sessions

ORH is pleased to present two webinars this April with expert Kate Hill, RN, VP of Clinical Compliance from the Compliance Team. The webinars will focus on emergency preparedness for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs):

Emergency Preparedness, Part 1
April 8, 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

Emergency Preparedness Basics

Emergency Preparedness, Part 2
April 22, 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Emergency Preparedness In-Depth

To register, please send your full name and email address to Rondyann Gerst

Oregon Coast

Rural EMS Training and Equipment Assistance Program Funding Opportunity Announcement: Due March 30, 2020

The Rural Emergency Medical Services Training and Equipment Assistance Program received $5 million in appropriation through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, is accepting applications for fiscal year 2020 Rural Emergency Medical Services Training grants (Short Title: EMS Training).

The purpose of this program is to recruit and train emergency medical services (EMS) personnel in rural areas, with awards of up to $200,000. Applications are due Monday, March 30, and the Funding Opportunity Announcement is available here.

Eligible applicants are rural EMS agencies operated by a local or tribal government (fire-based and non-fire based) and non-profit EMS agencies.

Please note that all applicants need to register on multiple websites to be able to submit an application. Registration can take up to six weeks. If you are even thinking about applying, start the registration process now! IMPORTANT: All applicants must register with NIH’s eRA Commons to submit an application. Applicants must also register with the System for Award Management (SAM) and Grants.gov. See Appendix A in the SAMHSA Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for all registration requirements. Applicants are strongly encouraged to start the registration process six weeks in advance of the application due date. Additional tips for applying for a SAMHSA grant are available here.

Oregon CAH and EMS Partner Grant Award

St. Alphonsus Medical Center Baker City has received a CAH-EMS partner grant to provide Stop the Bleed (STB) curriculum and training to hospital, EMS, and community programs. Hospital emergency department and Baker County Fire Department EMS personnel are becoming designated STB trainers to strengthen the consistency of bleeding control practices among pre-hospital and hospital providers. Trainers will then equip multiple community groups, including schools, high-risk businesses, and government offices, to properly respond to bleeding emergencies.

If your organization is interested in learning more about EMS-focus programming offered by ORH, contact Rebecca Dobert or call (971) 271-0481.

Funding Solutions for Health Care Workforce Training

A new cycle of the Healthy Oregon Workforce Training Opportunity (HOWTO) Grant Program begins in Spring 2020. 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 this cycle of funding, oral and behavioral health programs are strongly encouraged to apply.

In 2018 and 2019, HOWTO awarded approximately $8 million to 10 local organizations to address current and future health care workforce shortages. Watch the website for the new grant application announcement around March 2020.

Rural EMS Provider Award to Attend NREMS

Paramedic Emmalee Thill of Jefferson County EMS (JCEMS) has been awarded a grant to attend the National Rural EMS & Care Conference in Columbus, Ohio in April. Emmalee will also participate in the pre-conference EMS Grant Writing workshop. Her nomination outlined a process to participate in the Stroke Systems Panel and financial sustainability conference offerings, with a goal to replicate the education with presentations to JCEMS operational and management staff. Congratulations Emmalee, we look forward to seeing you in Columbus.

Rural and Oregon EMS Agencies Participating in CMS Ground Transport

Twenty-eight Oregon EMS agencies have been selected to participate in the CMS Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System as of January 1, 2020. Selected agencies must collect information on cost, utilization, revenue, and other service characteristics during a continuous 12-month period.

The collected information will be used to evaluate how reported costs relate to payment rates under the Medicare Part B Ambulance Fee Schedule. It will also be used to gather data about the utilization of capital equipment and ambulance capacity, and the different types of ground ambulance services provided in different geographic locations, such as rural and frontier areas.

ORH will provide current information as it is available about the data collection, and support and resources for agencies. Please check the ORH news and events web pages for related information. If you have questions about the program, please contact Rebecca Dobert or (971) 271-0481.

EMS Pain Treatment Disparity Study Article Published

Work completed by OHSU/Oregon Tech Associate Professor Jamie Kennel, MS, NREMT-P, investigating EMS pain treatment disparities, and supported with the 2016-17 Flex award, continues to have impact. An article about the work was published in the December 2019 issue of Medical Care, the Official Journal of the Medical Care Section, American Public Health Association. Previously, a segment about the study aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud. The Wyoming Office of Health Equity is working to replicate the work.

Incentive Programs

Oregon Flowers

Loan Forgiveness Participants Graduating this Summer

Loan forgiveness programs provide funding for qualified students enrolled in approved academic programs in exchange for a future service obligation. ORH administers two such programs:  the Primary Care Loan Forgiveness Program (PCLF) and the Scholars for a Healthy Oregon Initiative (SHOI). A variety of providers graduating from their medical education programs who are enrolled in these programs will graduate this summer. These new graduates will seek employment at qualifying rural and urban underserved practice sites. For more information on how your practice site can connect with these providers, please contact ORH’s Workforce Services Team.

Oregon Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Application Cycle Closes April 30

Oregon Health Care Provider Incentive Loan Repayment was established by the Oregon Legislature to help support rural and urban underserved communities in their recruitment and retention of high quality providers. In exchange for service at a qualifying practice site, participants receive tax free funds to repay qualifying educational loan debt. The current provider application cycle, for both licensed providers, and mental health providers are working on required licensure hours at approved practice sites, closes on April 30, 2020. Eligible providers are highly encouraged to apply as early in the cycle as possible to allow time for information requests from ORH. For more information on the program, including qualification requirements, FAQs, and applications, visit the program webpage.

SLRP Funds are Going Fast

The Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is a loan repayment program for primary care providers working at approved practice sites in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). SLRP is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and is matched by 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. Unlike most loan repayment programs that make awards based on a competitive application cycle, SLRP offers awards on a “first apply, first awarded” basis. Qualified providers interested in SLRP are encouraged to apply to the program as soon as possible before program funds are exhausted. For more information on SLRP, including qualification requirements, FAQs, and applications, visit the program webpage.

Oregon Rainbow

News from Area Health Education Centers (AHEC)


Laura Byerly, M.D. presented the first of four presentations on February 14 on geriatric medicine to AHEC Scholars. The topic was “Depression and Suicide in Older Adults.”  

The next presentation will be March 13 on “Pain Management and Opiate Prescribing in Older Adults.” The April 14 session reaches out to include other student interest groups on the topic of “Social Determinants of Health in Older Adults, and Age Friendly-Health Systems in Rural Community Groups.” The final lecture on May 15 will present “Falls, Physical Inactivity, and Optimizing Mobility in Older Adults.”

Laura Byerly graduated from OHSU and completed her internal medicine residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, and subsequent geriatric medicine fellowship at UCSF. Throughout her training, her interests in geriatric medicine grew to include educating the next generation of providers about caring for older adults. She is particularly interested in interprofessional education given the team-focused approach to caring for older adults. 

The Northwest Rural Health Conference is March 23-25, 2020

Rural Values: Shaping Care – Inspiring Success

This year’s conference will be at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane, Washington

Sessions include:

  • Planning for and Responding to Novel Communicable Disease in Rural Hospitals Population Health Lessons Learned and Strategies for the Future
  • Understanding Trauma & Trauma Informed Care
  • CMS Patients Over Paperwork Listening Session - Chronic Pain

See the full agenda on the conference website: www.nwruralhealth.com

Oregon Sunset