December 2016
    Office of Rural Health and Primary Care graphic



National Rural Health Day 2016

Thank you for helping us celebrate National Rural Health Day! #powerofrural

This year we asked attendees at the Minnesota's Rural Health Conference to tell us about their work and why rural health is important to them in 3 words. Here is what they said:

Take the pledge to stay informed about rural health issues throughout 2017! In an effort to transform National Rural Health Day (NRHD) into a year-long commitment to bring collective focus to specific health care issues facing rural communities across the United States, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) has created the PLEDGE TO PARTNER. Sign up and stay in touch with NOSORH, State Offices of Rural Health (SORHs) and communities throughout the country as we work together on rural health issues.

Call for Proposals for 2017 Minnesota Rural Health Conference
The Minnesota Rural Health Conference Committee is currently accepting session proposals for the 2017 Minnesota Rural Health Conference, Shaping Sustainable Solutions. Review the target audience, conference objectives, learning tracks and submit your application with a deadline of December 21, 4:00 p.m. CST.


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Eliminating Health Disparities
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announces the availability of funds to support and strengthen the evaluation capacity of the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative (EHDI) community grantees. The EHDI Evaluation Capacity Building Grant funds are specifically designed to provide evaluation technical assistance and support to EHDI community grantees in carrying out a culturally responsive evaluation of their work; assessing the effectiveness of their programs in reducing racial and ethnic disparities and/or addressing social determinants of health in the identified priority health areas; learning about successful strategies or approaches; building successful partnerships; and, communicating findings to intended audiences. Visit the Health Equity Funding Opportunities webpage for more information. Applications are due December 15, 4:30 p.m. CST. Email questions to with "EHDI Evaluation Capacity Building RFP Question" included in the Subject line.

Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP)
The Office of Rural Health and Primary Care coordinates a state application to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, Office of Rural Health Policy on behalf of Minnesota’s small rural hospitals (49 or fewer beds). The Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) grant funds may be used to purchase items from the SHIP Purchasing Menu in the following funding categories: value based purchasing, accountable care organization, payment bundling or care transitions. Applications are to be returned to via email by January 8, 2017.

Minnesota Loan Forgiveness Program
The next annual cycle of the Minnesota Health Care Loan Forgiveness Program is currently open until January 6. Review each of the program links for detailed information and application deadlines.

Primary Care and Public Health Learning Community Grant RFP
MDH is seeking proposals to advance the work of an existing local public health and primary care partnership to address shared goals to improve the health and health outcomes of a community. Eligible applicants include: Community Health Boards, Tribal Governments, and primary care practices. A copy of the complete request for proposal may be found on the Minnesota Accountable Health Model website, on the Learning Communities grants RFP page. For questions about this funding opportunity contact Janet Howard at Proposals are due January 20, 4:00 p.m. CST.

Small Rural Hospital Planning and Transition Grant
The next Rural Hospital Planning and Transition Grant request for proposals (RFP) will be issued in late January or early February 2017. The Office of Rural Health and Primary Care administers these grants to help small rural hospitals preserve access or respond to changing conditions. Hospitals have used transition grants to prepare strategic plans, implement new uses for hospital space and develop community services.


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OTHER GRANTS And funding

Rural Health Network Development Planning Program Funding Opportunity
The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) has announced the FY 2017 Rural Health Network Development Planning Program funding opportunity. This grant supports the development of an integrated health care network and aims to assist rural health care providers and health care service organizations better align resources and strategies. This program will bring together key parts of a rural health care delivery system, particularly those entities that may not have collaborated in the past under a formal relationship, to establish and improve local capacity and coordination of care. The program will support one year of planning with the primary goal of helping networks create a foundation for their infrastructure and effectively focus member efforts to address important regional or local community health needs. Applications must be submitted electronically through by January 3. FORHP will host a live technical assistance webinar on Tuesday, December 13 from 2:00PM -3:00PM EST to assist applicants in application preparation. The webinar can be accessed using the following link and call-in information: and 877-918-1352, passcode 1557034. The audio recording of the webinar will be available after the webinar until January 13, 2017. For more information, please contact Meriam Mikre at

SAMHSA provides Grants Promoting Earlier Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is providing up to $77.2 million in funding over several years to programs promoting screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) programs. SBIRT is a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for persons with substance use disorders, as well as those who are at risk of developing these disorders. SBIRT enables healthcare workers in primary care centers, hospital emergency rooms, trauma centers, and other community settings to better identify the signs of underlying substance use problems and provide opportunities for early intervention with at-risk substance users before more severe consequences occur. View SAMHSA's website for more information.


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Community Health Worker (CHW) Toolkit
The Minnesota Department of Health has published a Community Health Worker (CHW) Toolkit (PDF) for prospective employers. The purpose of the toolkit is to assist employers and organizations as they plan to hire Community Health Workers who:

  • provide culturally-specific education, system navigation, advocacy and outreach services to diverse communities;
  • work to improve health outcomes for communities and individuals, reduce overall health care costs by helping patients avoid more acute care, and improve patient experience; and
  • help enhance relationships between communities and health systems, public health agencies, hospitals, clinics and community-based programs.

The toolkit and background resources are available on our Toolkit webpage. Funding for the creation of the toolkit was provided by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Improvement via the Minnesota State Innovation Model (SIM) grant. Please feel free to share the CHW Toolkit with others.

Coordinating and Integrating Behavioral Health Services for Refugee Populations
The monthly Health Care Homes/State Innovation Model Learning Collaborative for December will be held December 13, 12:00 - 1:00. Presenters from The Center for Victims of Torture will share experiences gained through a State Innovation Model funded Learning Community focused on improving coordination and integration of behavioral health services for war–traumatized refugee populations and Minnesota’s newest citizens that are presenting unique challenges to systems of care in St. Cloud.

National Rural Health Association Partnership Services
Every month, the National Rural Health Association Partnership Services has free webinars.

  • Managing Rural Specific Risks At Your Facility (Is temporary staffing a profitable strategy for your organization?) will be held Thursday, December 8, 2:00 - 3:00 PM Central Standard Time.
  • LEAN at your Hospital Front Door (How to optimize community's experience coming into your facility) will held Tuesday, December 13, 2:00 - 3:00 PM Central Standard Time.
  • Regulating Success (Nondiscrimination notices and taglines in your organization) will be held Wednesday, December 14, 2:00 - 3:00 PM Central Standard Time.


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Walker Methodist Health Center
Walker Methodist Health Center’s dental clinic received a 2016 Leading Age National Innovation Award for its creative way of providing dental care for seniors. Located in the East Harriet neighborhood of Minneapolis, the dental clinic has a partnership with the University of Minnesota and is staffed by dental students.

People Incorporated and Family Life Mental Health Center Combine
Two Twin Cities mental health organizations—St. Paul-based People Incorporated and Family Life Mental Health Center (FLMHC)—merged this November. People Incorporated serves people with mental illness in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. FLMHC provides community mental health care in the northwest area of the metro. Combined, both organizations will provide a greater mental health care safety net in Anoka County. Read an article on the merger.

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ORHPC Staff News

The Trauma staff—Chris Ballard, Marty Forseth, and Tammy Peterson—had a Level 4 Criteria Workgroup meeting at CentraCare Health in Monticello. This month Marty Forseth did site reviews at Lakeview Hospital, Stillwater and Mayo Clinic Health System, New Prague.

Senior Research Analyst Laura McLain presented an overview and update on Minnesota's health workforce landscape to the Minnesota Hospital Association Workforce Committee.

Flex Program Coordinator Judy Bergh attended a planning meeting in Mahnomen for the Mahnomen Health Center’s Integrated Behavioral Health Project, a Flex funded project coordinated by Rural Health Innovations, a subsidiary of the National Rural Health Resource Center. The meeting was attended by Mahnomen Health Center staff as well as staff from other community organizations committed to integrating behavioral health services into primary care in their area.


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Health Equity
Breaking the ice: Indian health director 'walks in two worlds' (Capitol Report).
Out-of-network, out-of-pocket, out-of-options: The unfulfilled promise of parity (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
If we want to advance equity in public health practice, we must address race and power (Science Blogs).
Refugee Integration in the United States (Center for American Progress).

Health Reform
How Minnesota can avoid unnecessary hospitalizations (MinnPost).
Rural hospitals faced less value-based reimbursement penalties (RevCycle Intelligence).
The doctor in in (jail): Minnesota doc's company provides medical care to inmates in St. Louis, Douglas counties (Insurance Newsnet).
Helping ex-inmates stay out of the ER brings multiple benefits (National Public Radio).
A Minneapolis neighborhood improves health from grassroots up (Minneapolis Star Tribune).
Report: State needs mental health reform to address concerns (Mankato Free Press).

Health Technology
Telehealth projects underway (Federal Telemedicine News).
Simple digital technologies can reduce health care costs (Harvard Business Review).

Primary Care
Panel highlights team approaches to patient-centered primary care (American Academy of Family Physicians).
Out in the rural: A Mississippi health center and its war on poverty (NewsWise).
Despite new fiscal resources, community health centers face challenges post-ACA (Becker's Hospital Review).

Rural Health
The impact of the low volume hospital (LVH) program on the viability of small, rural hospitals (North Carolina Rural Health Research Program).
Rural healthcare access at risk (The Hill).
Rural health care: An urgent crisis, part I (Montevideo American-News).

HHS takes additional steps to expand access to opioid treatment (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services).
Supply and distribution of the behavioral health workforce in rural America (Rural Health Research & Policy Centers).
Community health center workforce and staffing needs (National Association of Community Health Centers).

Governor's Task Force on Mental Health Final Report, 2016 (Minnesota Governor's Task Force on Mental Health).
Task force takes aim at delays in mental health care system (MPR News).
Can the arts help save rural America? (RUPRI).
Facing addiction in America: The Surgeon General's report on alcohol, drugs, and health (Surgeon General).
Creating a safety net for isolated seniors (Herald & Review).

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The Opportunity Conference Advancing LGBTQ Health will be held February 27-28, 2017 in St. Paul.

The Minnesota Rural Health Conference Shaping Sustainable Solutions will be held June 19-20, 2017 in Duluth.

The fourth annual Comprehensive Advanced Life Support on Rural Emergency Care will be held September 29, 2017 in St. Paul.


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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.