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The Rural Health Advisory Committee (RHAC) has released a new Issue Brief on rural hospital system growth and consolidation. The brief shows a clear trend in the number of Minnesota hospitals joining larger systems, but suggests that at least among Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), there are not substantial differences in how independent and affiliated hospital CEOs feel their institutions are faring in terms of recruitment, access to services, electronic health record adoption or sustainability. For more information, contact Paul Jansen at or 651-201-3854.


Graph - Minnesota-licensed Respiratory Therapists by Training Location, 2012

Respiratory therapists (RTs) evaluate, treat and manage patients with respiratory illnesses and cardiopulmonary disorders. An associate in science or applied science degree is required for initial licensure as an RT. Approximately 68 percent of Minnesota-licensed RTs received their initial training in Minnesota. Another 15 percent received initial training in one of the four states bordering Minnesota.

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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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 or 651-201-3850 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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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota's Center for Prevention has released a request for proposals to the Active Living for All program (link no longer available). Contracts of up to $150,000 per year will support activities that increase access and reduce barriers to physical activity, with a priority on policy, systems and environmental interventions. Letters of interest due February 8.

The federal Telehealth Network Grant Program (TNGP) is soliciting applications for projects that demonstrate how telehealth programs and networks can improve access to quality health care services in rural, frontier and underserved communities. Grants activities must serve rural communities, though grantees may be located in either urban or rural areas. Applications due February 13.

The federal Health Center Program has released a New Access Point (NAP) funding opportunity. Community Health Centers or new organizations ("new starts") may apply. Priority will be given to unserved, high-poverty populations and sparsely populated areas (seven or fewer people per square mile). Other considerations include the rural/urban distribution of awards. Initial applications due in February 27; supplemental application information due April 3.

The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program (formerly the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program) invites applications from registered nurses (including advanced practice nurses and nursing faculty). To apply you must be a licensed registered nurse, have completed your training (diploma, associate, baccalaureate or graduate), and be employed full time (at least 32 hours per week) at an eligible critical shortage facility. Online applications due February 28.

The Citizens' Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) (formerly known as "Your Town") has released a request for proposals. Rural communities facing design challenges related to quality of life and economic vitality may apply to receive a $7,000 grant and in-kind design expertise and technical assistance valued at $35,000. Successful applicants will host local workshops in 2013 that bring together local leaders, non-profits and community organizations with a team of specialists in design and planning. Applications due March 5.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) seeks proposals for Community Service/Community Services Development (CS/SD) grants through its Aging and Adult Services Division. The purpose is to expand and integrate home and community-based services for older adults that allow local communities to rebalance their long-term service delivery system, support people in their own home, expand the caregiver support and respite care network and promote independence. Applications due April 5.

The Federal Communications Commission announced a new Healthcare Connect Fund, which will include $400 million in annual funding for health care providers. The Fund seeks to expand broadband networks for telemedicine, in part as a means of linking urban medical centers to rural clinics. Applications will be accepted beginning in late summer 2013.


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MDH's State Health Improvement Program (SHIP) will hold a free two-day seminar on motivational interviewing (MI) for nurses and other clinic staff who coach patients on health behavior changes in diet, activity level and smoking status. The seminar will be held on February 7 and 8 at the University of Minnesota Continuing Education Conference Center in St. Paul. For more information, contact Cherylee Sherry at 651-201-3769.

The Minnesota Stroke Registry Program is offering two regional workshop series in 2013 to help hospital-based providers build stroke programs and become stroke ready. Initial workshops will be held in Mankato on February 27, in Brainerd on March 20 and in Fergus Falls on April 23. More information and registration is available on the Minnesota Stroke Registry website.

A webinar on American Indian health disparities will be offered on February 21 through the School of Public Health at the University at Albany. The session will include a discussion of health resource disparities, regional differences, and policy and program strategies to reduce those disparities. Click here to register.

An eight-week, distance-learning Grant Writing certification course through Fort Hays State University starts February 13. A grant writing certificate and 10 CEUs may be earned. For more information, email or call 785-628-5840.

Join the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Nonprofits Assistance Fund for the 2013 Nonprofit Finance and Sustainability Conference on February 22 in Brooklyn Park. This day-long conference will look at financial sustainability from diverse perspectives, from strategy and oversight to implementation and evaluation.

The Center for Healthcare Innovation will host a presentation on Recognizing and Addressing Workplace Bullying in Health Care on March 21 at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. Live streaming and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) contact hours available. For more information, contact Toni Pearson at or 218-625-4933.

Know an organization or individual who has made significant contributions to the aging community, the disability community or both? Nominate them for a 2013 Odyssey Award, to be presented at the Age and Disabilities Odyssey conference on June 17 and 18 in Duluth. Nominations are due by April 1.


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As part of a three-year, $12 million grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Sanford Health announced the hiring of two traditional Native American healers. The new staff will serve as advisors in developing training about American Indian culture and will consult with medical staff on the use of traditional techniques. More detail available in this article from the Associated Press.

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) released a 2012 retention report. A survey found that over half of NHSC clinicians continued to practice in underserved communities 10 years beyond their service commitment, and long-term retention rates are higher for those who serve in rural communities compared to those in urban areas. The history and impact of the NHSC in rural areas is also featured in a Rural Roads article from the National Rural Health Association (link no longer available).

The Minnesota Maternal Mortality Review Project, a collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Chapter of the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, seeks a rural family medicine physician with an obstetric practice to serve on a maternal mortality case review team. The case review team meets for four hours twice a year and travel expenses are reimbursed. For more information, contact Jen Harvey at or 651-201-3582.

A January article in the St. Peter Herald examines rural hospitals' decisions to become part of larger systems or remain independent. Case studies include River's Edge Hospital in St. Peter, Queen of Peace in New Prague, Virginia Regional Medical Center, Northfield Hospital and Clinic and Madelia Community Hospital.

The Minnesota Medical Association announced a task force to explore ways to expand the state's primary care workforce. The group will include both academic and community leaders and will begin meeting in early 2013. Meanwhile, the American Medical Association announced a $10 million initiative to redesign undergraduate medical education.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has released the 2013 federal poverty guidelines.

The Flex Monitoring Team released three publications focused on Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs):

  • Community benefit activities of Critical Access Hospitals, non-metropolitan hospitals and metropolitan hospitals (link no longer available) (November 2012).

  • Why do some Critical Access Hospitals close their skilled nursing facility services while others retain them? (link no longer available) (December 2012).

  • Emergency transfers of the elderly to Critical Access Hospitals: Opportunities for improving patient safety and quality (link no longer available) (January 2013).

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Three big, rural community health care challenges (HealthLeaders Media).

Care coordination agreements: Barriers, facilitators and lessons learned (The Commonwealth Fund).

Transfer centers spell relief for rural docs (HealthLeaders Media).
Critical Access Hospital finance 101 manual (National Rural Health Resource Center).
Fact Sheet: CAH Method II physician participation in the Medicare EHR incentive program (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services).

Oral health
Practicing rural dentistry - a dream becomes a reality (NewsByte, Minnesota Oral Health Program).

Behavioral health
Mental health by the numbers (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).

Physician assistants in primary care: Trends and characteristics (Annals of Family Medicine).
Training nurse practitioners and physicians for the next generation of primary care (Science of Caring, University of California-San Francisco Nursing School).
Three ways telemedicine can help alleviate the physician shortage (Becker's Hospital Review).
Doc shortage may be smaller than expected (MedPage Today) but not all agree:  Projected doc shortage is real, experts say (
Study finds a team approach could eliminate the physician shortage (Healthcare Finance News).

Health information technology
Will rural health care providers pay more for broadband? (Government Technology).
Phones enable smart wound care in rural areas (link no longer available) (Rural Roads, National Rural Health Association).
Small hospitals on the radar
(Modern Healthcare).
Achieving meaningful use as a rural provider (EHR Intelligence).

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Deb Hagel, research analysis specialist, received a 2012 Living the Mission Award from MN.IT, the information technology organization for all state government agencies. Deb was nominated by Rick Bostrom, who works with ORHPC on workforce analysis projects with the state’s Health Licensing Boards. As Rick put it: “Working across our agencies, Deb is always ready with solutions to remove any road block that arises during the projects! She exhibits the can-do attitude at every turn and works diligently to bring all participants on the team together to get the job done.” Congratulations, Deb!

Judy Bergh, Anne Schloegel and Craig Baarson visited multiple hospitals in January. Visits included Essentia Health-Sandstone, Lakewood Health System in Staples, Perham Health, Glacial Ridge Hospital in Glenwood, Essentia Health-Fosston and Sanford Bagley Medical Center. Judy also visited Sanford Thief River Falls Medical Center, where she conducted a mock survey. ORHPC’s Flex Program conducts mock surveys to help Critical Access Hospitals prepare for their Medicare Survey and ensure the highest quality of care at their facilities.

As co-chair of the Policy Committee of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, Mark Schoenbaum attended the annual board planning meeting, where work continued on strategies to defend Critical Access Hospitals from possible changes that could destabilize care in rural communities.

Anne Schloegel attended the West Central Health Information Exchange (HIE) Project kick-off in Alexandria on January 29.


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The Oral Health Summit 2013 will take place on February 22 in West St. Paul.

The 2013 Policy & Issues Forum of the National Association of Community Health Centers will be held March 20-23 in Washington D.C.

The Regional Telehealth Forum, hosted by the Great Plains Telehealth Resource & Assistance Center (gpTRAC), will be held April 15-16 in Minneapolis.

The 2013 Spring Refresher (link no longer available), sponsored by the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, will be held April 18-19 in St. Paul.

The national Annual Rural Health Conference will be held May 7-10 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The 2013 Minnesota e-Health Summit will be held June 12-13 in Bloomington.

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

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

Rural Wisconsin Health Careers (RWHC) will hold two educational sessions in St. Croix Falls in July: Pediatric assessment/emergencies on July 10 and Lateral violence: Empowering staff to stop bad behaviors on July 11.


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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.