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Natl Rural Health Day logo and link

Celebrate National Rural Health Day on November 15th!

Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed November 15th "Rural Health Day" across Minnesota, part of a national celebration of rural health. Join us in highlighting the unique health care challenges in rural areas and showcasing the many ways rural health providers and communities address those needs.

Learn how to share your story and discover more ways to celebrate National Rural Health Day in your community.

A new MDH report, Healthy Minnesota 2020: Chronic Disease & Injury, provides a strategic framework for action on key chronic conditions, including alcohol, asthma, arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, injury and violence, obesity, oral health and tobacco. Chronic diseases account for the seven leading causes of death in Minnesota, extracting a substantial toll on health across the state.

The Meeker-McLeod-Sibley Community Leadership Team is hosting a Healthy Community Forum on November 14 in Hutchinson. Attendees will learn about reducing health care costs, sustainable solutions and local Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) efforts. Commissioner of Health Edward Ehlinger is keynote speaker. Pre-registration is required and closes on November 9. For more information, contact Meeker-McLeod-Sibley SHIP Coordinator Mary Bachman at 507-237-4048.

The next meeting of the Rural Health Advisory Committee (RHAC) is November 27 from 10:00 to 2:00 at the Snelling Office Park. The Committee will hear from a panel of advocates on rural issues to watch in the upcoming legislative session. The public is invited to attend; please RSVP to Kristen Tharaldson at For more information about the meeting and RHAC's role as a statewide forum for rural health interests, visit the RHAC portion of the ORHPC website.

The Minnesota Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program (MEIP) launched on October 18. MEIP provides incentive payments to health care professionals and hospitals that meet eligibility requirements when they adopt, implement, upgrade and meaningfully use certified EHR technology. For more information on MEIP eligibility, preparation and reference materials, visit the MEIP site.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the 2014 Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs) technical specifications for the EHR Incentive Programs. It also issued a related tip sheet and implementation guide.


Graph - Dental hygienist distribution by part-time or full-time status

A survey of 924 dental clinics in Minnesota showed that clinics in rural and isolated areas were more likely to employ dental hygienists in a full-time capacity (51 percent and 53 percent, respectively). In comparison, only 44 percent of clinics in urban and large rural areas reported employing full-time dental hygienists.

A greater supply of hygienists in metro and large rural locations may allow clinics to employ more part-time staff. This may not be as possible in rural and isolated areas, where the supply of hygienists is often more limited.

Technical note: Locations defined by Rural Urban Commuting Areas (RUCAs). Urban areas = 50,000+ people, large rural areas = 10,000-50,000, small rural areas = 2,500-9,999, and isolated areas = less than 2,500 people.

For more information and data on Minnesota's health workforce, visit the ORHPC Health Care Workforce Analysis Program site or contact Angie Sechler at or 651-201-3862.


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Application materials for the Rural Hospital Capital Improvement Grant Program are available on the ORHPC Grants and Loans page. Pre-applications are due December 17 and final applications (if invited) will be due March 18, 2013.

Application materials for the Minnesota Loan Forgiveness Program, which supports recruitment and retention of health care professionals in communities experiencing a shortage of primary health care providers, are now available on the ORHPC Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Programs page. Applications due by January 2, 2013.

The 2012 Minnesota e-Health Connectivity Grant Program for Health Information Exchange (HIE) is accepting applications on a first-come, first-serve basis. Eligible applicants include community HIE Partners (two or more health organizations collaborating to implement HIE for meaningful use transactions) or pharmacies not able to accept electronic prescriptions. Visit the Minnesota e- Health Connectivity Grant for Health Information Exchange page for more information on this new funding opportunity. Contact Anne Schloegel at with questions.

Be an ORHPC grant reviewer! Please contact Cindy LaMere at or 651-201-3852 with your name, profession, place of employment and contact information.


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The Minnesota Department of Health’s Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention and Control Unit has released its 2012 Tobacco-Free Communities Request for Proposals (link no longer available). Targeted populations include youth; young adults; populations of low socio-economic status (SES); racial and ethnic populations; the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population; and other at-risk or high risk populations. Applications due November 13. Letters of Intent were due October 22 but are not required.

The National Leadership Academy for the Public's Health is accepting applications from teams of leaders in multiple sectors who want to advance their leadership skills and achieve health equity in their community. Selected teams will participate in a retreat, webinars, monthly coaching sessions and leadership assessments from national experts. Applications due November 14.

The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has issued a Request for Proposals (link no longer available) or activities and events that promote the safety and health of older women (i.e., women over 50). Community-based partnerships and collaborations are strongly encouraged, as are activities that educate health professionals on issues related to older women. Applications due November 15.


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REACH (Regional Extension Assistance Center for HIT for Minnesota and North Dakota) and the Center for Healthcare Innovation at the College of St. Scholastica will host a Privacy and Security Boot Camp on November 30. Learn how to ensure a safe and secure electronic environment for maintaining patient information, and the valuable privacy and security tools and resources available in the HealthSmart e-Box. Register online or call Joseph Janchar at 218-625-4974.

Submit a session proposal for the 2013 Age & Disabilities Odyssey conference to be held June 17-18 in Duluth. The conference is sponsored by the Minnesota Board on Aging and the Minnesota Department of Human Services Aging and Adult Services and Disability Services divisions. Proposals due by December 17.

Interested in advancing your knowledge of rural health issues and gaining leadership skills? Consider applying to the Leadership Institute (link no longer available) offered by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) and the Heartland Center for Leadership Development. Scholarships are available. Applications due December 10.

The Diabetes Training and Technical Assistance Center has posted its popular Health Systems course on the Planned Care Model online. The course is led by instructors from CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and has easy-to-navigate modules, videos, resources, practical guidance and tools.


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Five Minnesota Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) made the National Rural Health Association's list of the 59 highest-ranked CAHs in the country, based on achievement in either quality, patient perspective or financial performance indicators:

  • Bigfork Valley Hospital

  • Mayo Clinic Health System - Springfield

  • Mayo Clinic Health System - Waseca

  • Sanford Westbrook Medical Center

  • St. Elizabeth Medical Center (Wabasha)

At this year's Many Faces of Community Health conference, Governor Mark Dayton received the 2012 Community Health Center Champion Award (named this year in honor of the late Dorii Gbolo, former CEO of Open Cities Health Center) from the Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers (MNACHC). Also at the conference, Arlene Becker, a dietician at West Side Community Health Services in St. Paul, received the 2012 Bruce Zimmerman Diabetes Award from the Minnesota Diabetes Steering Committee and the MDH Diabetes Program.

Congratulations to this year's Community Health Award recipients, honored at the 2012 Community Health Conference in October:

  • Pope County Commissioner Larry Kittelson received the 2012 Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health.

  • Wilhelmina Holder, executive director of the Women's Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE), received the 2012 Lou Fuller Award for Distinguished Service in Eliminating Health Disparities.

  • Sue Zuidema, formerly of Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department (HSPHD), received the 2012 Commissioner's Award for Distinguished Service in Community Health Services.

  • Bonnie Engen, director of the Clearwater County Nursing Service and current administrator of the North Country Community Health Board, received the 2012 Jim Parker Leadership Award.

  • Gloria Tobias of Countryside Public Health, was honored for her work in disease prevention and emergency preparedness.

  • Kim Edelman and Ann Kinney, both of MDH's Minnesota Center for Health Statistics, received the 2012 Jack Korlath Partnership Award.

  • Ann DeLa Vergne, formerly of Washington County Public Health and Environment, was honored for her commitment to healthy food for the community.

  • The Henry Street Consortium, a collaboration of schools of nursing, local health departments, and MDH, was recognized for its work enriching student experience while also helping local health departments meet community health improvement goals.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced in October that $229.4 million was invested in the National Health Service Corps in 2012 to support more doctors and nurses and increase access to primary care. These investments included nearly 4,600 loan repayment and scholarship awards to clinicians and students, and grants to 32 states to support state loan repayment programs. More information about these programs is available on the NHSC website.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program has awarded major financing to two Minnesota organizations: Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services will receive more than $24 million to build a new critical access hospital in Elbow Lake and purchase a clinic in Morris, and Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake will receive $38 million in loans for a major building and renovation project.

The Rural Physician Associates Program (RPAP) was held up as a national model "for medical training that has improved rural health outcomes and boosted rural economies" in a post by Robert Bowman, MD, in the Daily Yonder blog.

Hats off to three Minnesota hospitals -- two Critical Access Hospitals and one safety-net hospital -- and their staff and communities for producing videos for the 2012 Pink Glove Dance Competition. Check out the inspiring shows put on by Madelia Community Hospital and Clinic, Glencoe Regional Health Services and Regions Hospital!

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Economic impact of rural health care (National Center for Rural Health Works).
Uninsured in rural America and changes in rural uninsurance since recession (Daily Yonder). Nationally, the percentage of people under 65 without health insurance is higher in rural areas compared to urban and exurban counties. In Minnesota, however, the rates continue to be roughly similar across the three types of communities.
•What works for health, a searchable menu of policies and programs for improving community health - and the evidence on whether they're known to work - from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.

Critical Access Hospital ethics committee resource guide (Dartmouth Medical School).
Study: Critical Access Hospitals, rural hospitals grapple with EHR, CQMs
(EHR Intelligence).
Feds want 1,000 rural hospitals on EHRs by 2014
(InformationWeek) and related commentary from HealthLeaders Media.

Community health clinics to feel impact of hospital cutbacks (Fox8) and story on local impacts expected at Minnesota safety-net hospitals (MPR/Kaiser Health News).
A sketch of Community Health Centers: Chartbook 2012 (National Association of Community Health Centers).

Physician recruiting about to get tougher for rural hospitals (HealthLeaders Media commentary on 2012 In-House Physician Recruitment Benchmarking Report (link no longer available) from Association of Staff Physician Recruiters).
Family medicine workforce growing too slowly (AAFP News Now).
Community Health Workers: A front line for primary care? (National Health Policy Forum).
Rural health workforce needs assessment - a national survey (Rural and Remote Health).
The EMS workforce agenda for the future (UCSF Center for the Health Professions for the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
The roles of nurses in primary care (National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice).

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Two ORHPC staffers received 2012 MDH Service Awards in October: Lee Schutz received an award for 20 years of service, and Kristen Tharaldson received a 10-year award. Thank you, Lee and Kristen, for all you've done and continue to do!

Deb Jahnke, Lee Schutz and Will Wilson attended presentations at Argosy University and the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in celebration of National Health Service Corps Community Day on October 11, which honored the nearly 10,000 National Health Service Corps clinicians currently treating some 10.4 million people in underserved communities nationwide. For more information on this program contact Deb Jahnke at 651-201-3845 or

Kristen Tharaldson participated in "Minnesota's Unfinished Agenda: Moving Health Reform Forward in An Uncertain Environment," an event on October 9 at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs featuring legislators and moderated by Professor Larry Jacobs and Dave Hage of the Star Tribune. Videos of this seven-part series are available on the Health Care Reform: How to Build on the Minnesota Model website at the Humphrey's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.

Tammy Peterson, Chris Ballard and Jo-Ann Champagne conducted the following trauma designation site visits in October: Level III designation site visits to Cambridge Medical Center; Ridgeview Medical Center; Woodwinds Health Campus; St. John's Hospital; St. Joseph's Hospital; Riverwood Healthcare Center, Aitkin; and Level IV designation site visits to Northfield Hospital and Ely-Boomenson Community Hospital.


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The Rural Multiracial and Multicultural Health Conference will be held December 4-6 in Asheville, NC.

The Rural Health Policy Institute will be held February 4-6 in Washington, D.C.

The 2013 Age and Disabilities Odyssey Conference will take place June 17-18, 2013 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC).

The 2013 Minnesota Rural Health Conference will be held June 24-25, 2013 in Duluth.


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Minnesota Office of Rural Health and Primary Care
P. O. Box 64882
St. Paul, Minnesota 55164-0882
Phone 651-201-3838
Toll free in Minnesota 800-366-5424
Fax: 651-201-3830
TDD: 651-201-5797

Our mission
to promote access to quality health care for rural and underserved urban Minnesotans. From our unique position within state government, we work as partners with communities, providers, policymakers and other organizations. Together, we develop innovative approaches and tailor our tools and resources to the diverse populations we serve.