February 2017
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Logo for the MN Rural Health Conference


2017 Minnesota Rural Health Conference
Shaping Sustainable Solutions

JUNE 19 AND 20

Dental Therapist Toolkit
The Minnesota Department of Health has published a Dental Therapy Toolkit for prospective employers of Dental Therapists and Advanced Dental Therapists. The purpose of the toolkit is to assist employers and organizations who are planning to hire a Dental Therapist and integrate this emerging profession into their team.  The Dental Therapy role is a “mid-level” dental provider trained to serve underserved populations.  Dental Therapists can:

  • expand the population served by a clinic
  • improve efficiency
  • increase volume
  • allow supervising Dentists to provide more complex procedures

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.

International Medical Graduate Assistance program
The Office of Rural Health and Primary Care´s first–in–the–nation International Medical Graduate (IMG) Assistance program made significant strides toward a more diverse medical workforce in 2016, according to the International Medical Graduate Assistance Program: Report to the Minnesota Legislature, February 2017. In response to growing demands for care and persistent health disparities, Minnesota is trying to increase its workforce of physicians by utilizing the skills of those who have immigrated here after receiving advanced medical training in other countries. Established through bipartisan legislation in 2015, the IMG Assistance program supports pathways to licensure for immigrant and refugee physicians. The Minnesota Department of Health estimates there are nearly 400 immigrant medical graduates from three dozen countries living in Minnesota and interested in entering Minnesota’s health care workforce. According to the report, the program is helping 148 immigrant physicians seek medical residency positions or consider alternative health careers. “The International Medical Graduate Assistance program is a great example of health equity in action,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. Contact IMG Coordinator Yende Anderson at 651-201-5988 for more information about the program.


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Rural Hospital Planning and Transition Grant
The Office of Rural Health & Primary Care administers 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. Approximately $250,000 is available for grant contracts. In recent years the average grant amount has been between $25,000 and $35,000. Applications are due 4:30 p.m., Friday, March 17.


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OTHER GRANTS And funding

2017 Health Disparities Pilot Grants
The University of Minnesota Program in Health Disparities Research announces the 2017 Pilot Grants in Health Disparities Research. These grants are designed to encourage community–initiated research and foster sustainable long–term collaboration between community–based organizations and academic researchers on research projects focused on reducing and eliminating health disparities. The Pilot Grant program is made possible with support from: ClearWay Minnesota; Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota; and the Office for Business and Community Economic Development, University of Minnesota.

AI/AN Health Equity Initiative
Up to seven American Indian and/or Alaska Native organizations will be awarded federal funding of up to $350, 000 for programs that address the negative health impact of violence and substance abuse for AI/AN adolescents. Studies suggest the incorporation of traditional cultures and engaging youth in Native teachings as an effective public health approach. Successful applicants will implement promising practices for culturally-appropriate services and build capacity for healthcare professionals serving AI/AN youth. For more information, view the AI/AN Health Equity Initiative grant opportunity website. Applications are due April 3.

Health Equity in Action Grants
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation will award a total of up to $1,000,000 to further health equity in communities across the state of Minnesota. Healthy Communities 2017: Health Equity in Action provides grants up to $100,000 per year, and applicants can apply for one- or two-year grants. An optional webinar and community workshops will be held throughout the state in February and early March. The deadline to submit applications through the online application system is March 30, 4 p.m., Central Time.

Management Improvement Fund
Many nonprofits struggle to finance their day-to-day operations, let alone invest in long-term planning and management consultants. The Management Improvement Fund, a community initiative of The Saint Paul Foundation, is dedicated to strengthening the internal operations of organizations. Grants are now available statewide thanks to support from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. Grants may be used to finance management consultants, training services and other programs that improve service to the greater community. Before applying, all interested applicants must contact Stephanie Battle, director of Community Impact, at 651-325-4236 to ensure that the Fund fits the requested need.

Telehealth Resource Center Grant Program
The Telehealth Resource Center Grant Program supports the establishment and development of Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) which provide technical assistance to healthcare organizations, healthcare networks, and healthcare providers in the implementation of telehealth programs to serve rural and medically underserved areas and populations. Funding will support up to twelve Regional Telehealth Resource Centers (RTRC). RTRCs will serve as focal points for advancing the effective use of telehealth technologies in their respective communities and states. Two national TRCs (NTRCs) will also be funded, one that will focus on policy issues and one that focuses on technical issues. View the Telehealth Resource Center Grant Program announcement for more information. The application deadline is March 16.


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ACA Affects for the State of Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Human Services strives to provide clear and factual information about the impacts of its programs and services to all state residents. The information contained on their Repealing the Affordable Care Act webpage represents these efforts in regard to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its proposed repeal. Information will be updated routinely as we learn more about the impacts to Minnesotans.

EMS Pathways Academy Student Internship Program
The EMS Pathways Academy Student Internship Program is helping the Minneapolis Fire Department and Hennepin EMS workforce to better reflect the community they serve. The first class of graduates included 91% people of color and was over 50% female. Obtaining your Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification opens the door to many career paths. This is a rapidly expanding field and as more jobs for EMTs are created, it is necessary to fill these positions with qualified candidates that reflect the multilingual and culturally diverse communities we serve. Graduates of this program have been successfully hired as Minneapolis Firefighters, dispatchers with Hennepin EMS and some are continuing their training to become Paramedics. The 11-13 week EMT training and certification course will be held Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. beginning May 1. There is no cost to apply. Participants are paid $15 hourly.

Free e-Learning Courses
Normandale Community College and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health are jointly offering free e-Learning courses designed for busy, working adults to upgrade their skills in the transforming healthcare industry. Short e-learning courses are available for Healthcare Data Analytics, Population Health, and Value-Based Care. Courses are appropriate for all roles and levels of work within healthcare. Training is provided by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Normandale Community College through a federal grant opportunity. To register, begin by viewing the Course page. Training is free and available until capacity is met or until May 2017.

Obstetric Care Quality and Access for Rural U.S. Women Webinar
Katy Kozhimannil, PhD, MPA, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and Director of Research at the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center presented findings from recent studies on the quality of obstetric care in rural hospitals, the workforce providing obstetric care in rural areas, and the predictors of non-local childbirth for rural women. The focus of this presentation was on understanding whether rural pregnant women have access to the care they need, and whether rural hospitals have the capacity to meet the needs of rural women and families. View the webinar recorded online, the presentation slides or the transcript [PDF].

Policy Update
The Minnesota Rural Health Association (MRHA) is hosting a special Policy Update conference call Tuesday, February 21, 11:30–12:30 CT to update members about the latest developments in St. Paul and Washington, D.C. Presenters are:

  • Mark Schoenbaum, Director of the Minnesota Department of Health's Office of Rural Health and Primary Care
  • Maggie Elehwany, Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy with the National Rural Health Association
  • Steve Gottwalt, Executive Director of the Minnesota Rural Health Association

To register and receive call–in information, send a message with subject header MRHA Policy Update to

National Rural Health Association Partnership Services
Every month, the National Rural Health Association Partnership Services has free webinars. You must register for them.

Rural HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment Toolkit
The Rural Health Information Hub recently released a new toolkit. The Rural HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment Toolkit developed by the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, provides information, strategies, and resources to help rural communities implement HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. Browse program models and examples that span the HIV/AIDS care continuum. Learn how to implement, evaluate, and sustain a program in your community and disseminate program results.

Value-Based Initiatives Resource for Rural Providers
The Catalog of Value-Based Initiatives for Rural Providers, was published online last week by Rural Health Value. This document catalogs and summarizes rural-relevant, value-based programs recently implemented by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), including the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). Its purpose is to help rural leaders and communities identify HHS value-based programs appropriate for rural participation.


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2017 List of Top 100 Rural & Community Hospitals
The 2017 list of the Top 100 Rural & Community Hospitals in the U.S. according to The National Rural Health Association's Rural Health Policy Institute, iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health has been released. It expands on research presented as part of the 2017 Rural Relevance Study: Vulnerability to Value from The Chartis Group. The hospitals that are named to this list are top performers in managing risk, achieving higher quality, securing better outcomes, increasing patient satisfaction and operating at a lower cost than their peers, according to the report. The Minnesota hospitals named this year are as follows:

  • District One Hospital (Faribault)
  • Lake Region Healthcare (Fergus Falls)
  • Mayo Clinic Health System – Albert Lea
  • Winona Health Services

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ORHPC Staff News

Rural Health Policy Researcher Emma Distel is among the first graduates of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) Rural Health Data Institute. Twelve members of State Offices of Rural Health (SORH) teams, representing 9 states, completed the Institute.

ORHPC Director Mark Schoenbaum attended the Rural Health Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. He will be among the presenters at a statewide Policy Update conference call Tuesday, February 21, 11:30–12:30 CT to update members about the latest developments in St. Paul and Washington, D.C. To register and receive call–in information, send a message with subject header MRHA Policy Update to

Flex Program Coordinator Judy Bergh and Rural Health Policy Researcher Emma Distel attended MDH's Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program’s Stroke Learning Project learning session held at the American Heart Association Office in order to learn more about the Stroke Program’s work with rural and urban hospitals on improving transitions of care for stroke patients.

Shortage Designation Coordinator & Grant Program Manager Keisha Shaw and Grants Supervisor Will Wilson did site visits at Community Dental Care and Apple Tree Dental.

Grants Supervisor Will Wilson attended a meeting with stakeholders in Duluth to discuss starting a Community Health Worker training program there.

IMG Coordinator Yende Anderson was interviewed by Minneapolis KMSP Channel 9 about the International Medical Graduate Program.



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Health Equity
Dr. Mary Bassett: We must 'name racism' as a cause of poor health (The Huffington Post).
Why succeeding against the odds can make you sick (The New York Times).

Rural Health
Minn. nursing homes, rural health care could be devastated by a travel ban, Swanson warns (Minneapolis Star Tribune).
Visa crackdown puts these rural doctors at risk (CNN Money).
2017 state of Minnesota rural health: Report to the Minnesota legislature, February 2017 (Minnesota Rural Health Association).
Rural healthcare in crisis mode (Federal Telemedicine News).

Community health workers: Bridging community and clinic (Minnesota Department of Health Refugee Health Quarterly).
Trump travel ban spotlights U.S. dependence on foreign-born doctors (Minnesota Public Radio).
For foreign med students awaiting match day, Trump's immigration order causing 'havoc' (Becker's Hospital Review).

Minnesota launches anti-opioid ad campaign (MPR News).
Minnesota selected as one of first states to pilot Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (Minnesota Department of Human Services).
Impact of the Affordable Care Act in Minnesota: Implications of Repeal (State Health Access Data Assistance Center).

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The National Rural EMS & Care Conference Building Integration & Leadership for the Future will be held April 25-26 in Fargo, North Dakota.

The Minnesota e-Health Summit Connectivity. Equity. Health. will be held June 15 in Brooklyn Center.

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

The fourth annual Comprehensive Advanced Life Support on Rural Emergency Care will be held September 29 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.