December 2013



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The Rural Health Advisory Committee has issued a new report: Obstetric Services in Rural Minnesota. The report, the product of months of research and analysis by a statewide workgroup, provides data and policy analysis of patient and community issues; obstetric education, training and residency issues; rural workforce issues; and rural hospital issues related to obstetric services. For more information, contact Kristen Tharaldson at or 651-201-3863.


Graph - Distribution of delivery physician sub-specialties by region, 2010

Source: Minnesota Board of Medical Practice and Health Workforce Planning and Analysis Program, Office of Rural Health & Primary Care, Minnesota Department of Health.

Just over 1,600 physicians delivered newborns in Minnesota in 2010. Rural regions had a larger percentage of family medicine physicians listed as the primary attendant at birth compared to more urban regions. Urban regions had a higher percentage of OB/GYNs listed as primary attendant.

For the full Obstetric Services in Rural Minnesota report, visit the Rural Health Advisory Committee publications page or contact Kristen Tharaldson at or 651-201-3863.

MDH has awarded more than $21.2 million in Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) grants to counties and cities across Minnesota. The grants will be used to implement projects that promote exercise and physical activity, improve nutrition, and decrease tobacco and alcohol use. The new grant awards come after Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature restored funding for the SHIP initiative during the 2013 Legislative Session. This additional funding allowed 25 more counties to receive SHIP funding. For additional information, visit SHIP: The Statewide Health Improvement Program.

MDH and the University of Minnesota have received a major new grant to study the integration of primary care delivery and public health services. The three-year study will collect data from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado and Washington and will be the first effort to quantify the degree and effectiveness of public health and primary care integration in these states. Read the full MDH News Release to learn more.

The MDH Health Economics Program issued a new Utilization of Health Care by Insurance Status report. The issue brief uses the Minnesota Health Access Survey to examine three types of health care utilization. Overall findings show the uninsured population has a much different utilization pattern than the insured population, and these differences persist when accounting for health status.


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The Medical Education and Research Costs (MERC) Fund program is accepting grant applications from sponsoring institutions with accredited programs providing training in fiscal year 2012 for advanced practice nursing, clinical social workers, community health workers, community paramedics, dental students/residents, dental therapists/advanced dental therapists, chiropractic students, medical students/residents, pharmacy students/residents, physician assistants and psychologists. Programs wishing to apply for a grant from MERC must submit their application through their sponsoring institution. Applications due to MDH December 15. Find more details on the MERC Grant Application Information page.

Application materials are now available for the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Loan Program. Funds are intended primarily for EHR software, hardware, training and support expenses. Priority applicants are critical access hospitals; federally qualified health centers; entities that serve uninsured, underinsured and medically underserved individuals (urban or rural); individual or small group practices focused on primary care; nursing facilities and elderly waiver facilities. Loans are six-year, no-interest with the first year’s repayment deferred. Applications due December 19.


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The Notah Begay III Foundation is accepting applications to its Native Strong: Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures Capacity Building Grant program. Grants will support organizations working to prevent or reduce childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes in Native American children. Funding may be used for community health assessments or community planning and capacity projects. Applications due December 16.

Delta Dental of Minnesota is offering a one-time opportunity to expand oral health teams and increase dental services through a competitive funding opportunity for dental practices throughout Minnesota interested in employing dental therapists. The Dental Workforce Pilot Project is designed to compensate private, for-profit dental practices interested in introducing a dental therapist or advanced dental therapist as a member of the dental team to expand care to underserved populations. Interested organizations may apply for up to $100,000 for a one-year period for personnel expenses related to the hiring employment of dental therapists or advanced dental therapists, and up to 10 percent of related administrative and program costs. For application guidelines, contact Sharon Oswald at or 612-224-3203. Letters of application due before December 30.

The Dakota Medical Foundation seeks entries to its Breakthrough Idea Challenge, which will award a total of $500,000 in 2014 for new ideas that significantly improve the health of people in the company's service area (which includes the Minnesota counties of Becker, Clay, Clearwater, Hubbard, Mahnomen, Norman, Ottertail, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Wadena and Wilkin). Focus areas include ways to help people access health care or medicine; ways to retain physicians and nurses in rural areas; fitness and healthy weight innovations; and ways to improve the health impact of organizations in the region. Ideas accepted through December 31.

The Susan G. Komen Minnesota is accepting applications to its 2014 Community Grants Program for innovative programs in the areas of breast health and breast cancer education, screening, diagnosis, treatment, treatment support, survivorship and health care delivery/systems change. A funding priority area this year is northwest Minnesota, including applications from Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Beltrami, Polk, Pennington, Clearwater, Red Lake, Norman, Mahnomen and Hubbard counties. Applications due January 10.

The Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) is accepting applications to its FY 2014 Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant Program. A rural health network is defined as an organizational arrangement among at least three separately owned regional or local health care providers that come together to develop strategies for improving health services delivery systems in a community. Networks can include a wide range of community partners including social service agencies, faith-based organizations, mental health agencies, charitable organizations, educational institutions, employers, local government agencies or other entities with an interest in a community’s health care system. Applications due January 16.


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The Minnesota Stroke Registry will hold a regional workshop, "Stroke Program Development: Getting Ready to be Ready, Meeting the Designation Criteria," in Duluth on December 17.

A free interprofessional student event, "Medical homes: Improving primary care? A peek into what your future role may be in Patient-Centered Medical Homes," will be held January 10 at Lakewood Health Systems in Staples. The event is sponsored by the Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center (AHEC). For more information or to register, contact Loria Larson at or 218-736-1690.

The Rural Palliative Care Networking Group will feature a special presentation, "Symptom management at end-of-life," on January 28 from 10:00 a.m. to noon at Lakewood Health System in Staples. To register for in-person attendance or conference call, contact Matt Ellis by January 21 at or 952-853-8539.


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Katherine Galliger, a night shift nursing supervisor at Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin, has been named 2013 Rural Health Nurse of the Year by the Minnesota chapter of the March of Dimes. According to an article in the Aitkin Age, Ms. Galliger was honored for her work in falls prevention and medication safety, as well as her mentoring of young nurses.

USA Today reports this year's Country Doctor of the Year award went to Minnesota physician Robert Bösl, who along with his wife invested retirement savings into a clinic in Starbuck after the local hospital closed in 2005. The Country Doctor award is a national competition sponsored by Staff Care.

The Flex Monitoring Team released a new policy brief: Critical Access Hospital (CAH) Year 8 Hospital Compare Participation and Quality Measure Results (link no longer available). The percent of CAH patients receiving recommended care has increased for nearly all measures, but CAHs continue to have lower scores relative to rural and urban Prospective Payment System (PPS) hospitals on several measures. CAHs do have significantly higher HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores than all other hospitals.

A new study finds that more than 80 percent of patients at Community Health Centers (CHCs) report receiving high-quality care. The study, Effects of Patient-Centered Medical Home Attributes on Patients’ Perceptions of Quality in Federally Supported Health Centers, also found that features of patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) were associated with higher patient satisfaction. Read the National Association of Community Health Centers' Evolution of the Primary Care Medical Home for more on this model in the CHC setting.

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Demographic and economic characteristics associated with sole county pharmacy closures, 2006-2010 (RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis).
Nursing home closure rocks small town of Hoffman (Ground Level, Minnesota Public Radio News).

Health reform
Efforts increase to get rural Latinos to sign up for MNSure (Minnesota Public Radio News).
Voices of the U.S. healthcare safety net: Nonprofit leaders discuss the Affordable Care Act (Direct Relief).
How Medicaid expansions and future community Health Center funding will shape capacity to meet the nation’s primary care needs (Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative).
Race a bigger health care barrier than insurance status (Newswise, on study in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved).
‘Narrow networks’ trigger push-back from state officials (Kaiser Health News).

Rural health
Perinatal health in the rural United States, 2005
(link no longer available) (WWAMI Rural Health Research Center).
Rural and southern regions lack annual training in CPR (Duke Medicine News and Communications).

Health care integration offers multiple benefits (The Rural Monitor).
Study shows high satisfaction ratings among Health Center patients (National Association of Community Health Centers).

In critical condition: The fragile state of Critical Access Hospitals (American Hospital Association).
Improving hospital patient safety in rural settings with limited resources (H&HN Daily).
Restructuring of Vermont CAH and FQHCs puts emphasis on preventative care, collaboration (The Rural Monitor).

Oral health
Will work for dental: A new health care model? (USA Today).
Growing the dental workforce: The critical role of community colleges and workforce investment boards
(link no longer available) (The Pew Charitable Trusts).

Mental health
Integrated behavioral health screening tools for primary care (Integrated Behavioral Health Project).


Minn. small towns face doctor shortage (AP via Minnesota Public Radio).
New models of primary care could ease U.S. physician shortage (RAND Corporation).
Study demonstrates that medical residents trained in caring for the underserved are more likely to practice in underserved settings
(Robert Graham Center).
Recruitment and retention of rural nursing students: a retrospective study (Rural and Remote Health Journal).
Improving education for the care of underserved populations (Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation).
Migration after family medicine residency: 56% of graduates practice within 100 miles of training (Robert Graham Center).
The aging of rural primary care physicians (Daily Yonder).

Health Information Technology
Health IT could reduce demand for physicians (InformationWeek). .
EHR adoption a struggle for rural hospitals (InformationWeek).
Telemedicine consults may reduce errors at rural ERs (Reuters).

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Congratulations to Anne Schloegel, recipient of an MDH “Positive Impact Award.” The award recognizes extraordinary individual performance of an MDH employee who has made an outstanding positive impact within or outside MDH (or in Anne's case, both!).

Tammy Peterson conducted multiple Level 4 trauma designation site visits in November, including Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, Essentia Health-Fosston, Perham Health, Lake Region Medical Center in Fergus Falls, and CentraCare Health–Monticello. She also conducted a series of Level 3 designation visits: Unity Hospital in Fridley, Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater, and United Hospital in St. Paul.

Mark Schoenbaum, Nitika Moibi, Angie Sechler and Craig Baarson participated in “Finding Solutions: The Primary Care Physician Workforce Summit” on November 12. The event was sponsored by the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA), the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP), the Minnesota Chapter of the American College of Physicians, and ORHPC.


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The 10th anniversary Minnesota e-Health Summit, Looking Back to Celebrate, Looking Forward to Innovate, will be held June 11-12 in Bloomington.

The 2014 Minnesota Rural Health Conference will be held June 23 and 24 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

Our mission
To promote access to quality health care for all Minnesotans. We work as partners with policymakers, providers, and rural and underserved urban communities to ensure a continuum of core health services throughout the state.