June & July 2017




Office of Rural Health and Primary Care graphic




2017 Minnesota Rural Health Conference

2017 Minnesota Rural Health Conference
This years conference brought in 640 rural health professionals, advocates and students. Thank you to all who made the 2017 Rural Health Conference a success! View the photo gallery of the conference and remember to sign up to receive email notices about next year's conference.

Listen to a Minnesota Rural Health Conference (#50) podcast filed by Bill Auxier for the Rural Health Leadership Radio. Rural Health Leadership Radio is a free podcast designed to provide a voice for rural health. Each week a new episode features leaders working in rural health.

2017 Minnesota Rural Health Awards
This year's Rural Health Award Winners were announced at the Awards Breakfast at the 2017 Rural Health Conference. The 2017 Rural Health Lifetime Achievement Award went to Dr. George Rounds, MD, a family practice provider who spent his career at Bigfork Valley. The 2016 Rural Health Hero Award went to Jode Freyholtz-London, executive director of Wellness in the Woods. The 2017 Rural Health Team award went to the Oral Health Task Force, part of the North Shore Health Care Foundation. For more information, read the full 2017 Rural Health Awards press release.

2017 Lifetime Achievement Award

2017 Hero Award

2017 Team Award

Dr. George Rounds, Bigfork Valley

Jode Freyholtz-London
Wellness in the Woods

Oral Health Task Force, North Shore Health Care Foundation


MRHA/Stratis Health Emerging Rural Health Leader Award
The Minnesota Rural Health Association (MRHA) and Stratis Health presented this year's Emerging Rural Health Leader Award to Nathan Ratner. This award recognizes an outstanding rural health professions student.

HPSA Shortage Designations
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is currently developing a new, more automated process to score Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). The first National Shortage Designation Update based on the new process was supposed to occur in July but is now delayed until November. ORHPC staff are continuing to provide data, local context and input to federal staff as these changes are discussed and implemented to ensure that all HPSA designations are accurate and reflect the reality of provider shortage in Minnesota. For more information about the Update, visit our HPSA and MUA/P shortage designation webpage. If you have questions on a HPSA designation in your area, please contact Keisha Shaw at 651-201-3860 or Deb Jahnke at 651-201-3845.


Dental Therapist by Minnesota Region
Source: MDH Dental Therapist Workforce Survey, 2016. Percentages above are based on geocoding of 56 valid Minnesota addresses. To see regions defined, go to

The chart ABOVE shows the distribution of dental therapists across the six planning areas around Minnesota. Dental therapists are part of the dental team, providing basic restorative services and preventive care. By law, they are required to practice in settings serving primarily low-income, uninsured and underserved patients, or in areas designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Dental therapists were authorized to practice in Minnesota in 2009 and the first therapist was licensed in 2011. Since they first started practicing, the distribution of dental therapists has changed. In 2013, 73 percent of dental therapists worked in the Twin Cities area. Since then, dental therapy services are becoming more available in other parts of the state. Currently, 50 percent of dental therapists work in the Twin Cities area, with the remainder working in other regions of the state. Dental therapists are distributed similarly to the Minnesota population; 54 percent of Minnesotans are located in the Twin Cities metro area.


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HIV Prevention Projects (HPP) Grant Request for Proposals (RFP)
Under this Request for Proposals (RFP), MDH will fund HIV testing and syringe services programs targeting those most at risk for HIV infection as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce new infections. Download the RFP packet and forms. Intent to apply form is due July 21 and the application deadline is August 7.

Minnesota State Loan Repayment Program
Minnesota's State Loan Repayment Program (MN SLRP) was created to improve access to primary care by assisting underserved communities with recruitment and retention of primary care providers. Applications are due August 2017. For more information contact Deb Jahnke at 651-201-3845.


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OTHER GRANTS And funding

HHS new funding to expand substance abuse and mental health services
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of $195 million in a new funding opportunity for community health centers to expand access to mental health and substance abuse services focusing on the treatment, prevention and awareness of opioid abuse in all U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia. The awards are expected to be made in September.

Rural Health Opioid Program
The purpose of the Rural Health Opioid Program is to promote rural health care services outreach by expanding the delivery of opioid related health care services to rural communities. Applications are due July 21.

Rural Community Development Initiative Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is inviting applications for grants to support economic development in rural communities through the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI). These grants support partnerships between community development groups and rural communities to develop essential facilities and create jobs and business opportunities. The application deadline is July 25.

The CS_CASH Pilot/Feasibility Program
The Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS_CASH) Pilot/Feasibility Program funds agricultural safety and health feasibility projects in the north central plains region that have the potential to lead to the development of new and creative research, prevention, intervention, outreach, education, evaluation, or translation findings and outcomes. Proposed projects can explore new activities or directions or take advantage of special opportunities. Several examples of pilot and feasibility projects may be found in the application instructions. Letter of Intent is due July 28.

Minnesota Healthy Eating Success Stories Initiative
The Minnesota Healthy Eating Success Stories funding Initiative intends to highlight the outcomes and lessons of current and/or completed healthy eating projects and inspire others to duplicate them. Applications are due August 7.

Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part C HIV Early Intervention Services Program
Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part C HIV Early Intervention Services Program: Existing Geographic Services Areas grant is open to current recipients and new organizations proposing to provide comprehensive primary health care and support services in outpatient settings for low income, uninsured and underinsured people living with HIV. Contact Hanna Endale at 301-443-1326 or email for more information. The application is due August 14.

Great Plains Center RFP for Pilot Grants
The Great Plains Center has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Pilot Grants available to both researchers and community groups. Pilot projects addressing unique farming populations (e.g., youth, migrant workers, women farmers), aging, agrochemical use (pesticides and fertilizers), mental health and other new emerging issues are highly emphasized. Visit the webpage to learn more about the program. The deadline for pilot grant proposals is August 14.

Medica Foundation Core Mission Support Grant Program
The Medica Foundation Core Mission Support Grant Program offers up to $5,000 in funding for small organizations in the regional and rural areas of Medica’s service area. Funding will be directed toward initiatives designed to improve the health of individuals and communities. Review the non-profit core mission initiative for additional guidance. Applications are due August 25.


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Online MBQIP Data Abstraction Training Series
This recorded training series is for Critical Access Hospital staff with responsibility for data collection of CMS Inpatient and Outpatient quality measures. View past sessions on YouTube. In addition, every quarter there is an opportunity to call in with your MBQIP abstraction questions. The next opportunity is September 20, from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. CT. Register here.

Minnesota Immigrant & Refugee Rights Helpline
The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota launched the Minnesota Immigrant & Refugee Rights Helpline. Immigrants and refugees in Minnesota can call the helpline at 651-287-3715 on Tuesdays 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. and Thursdays 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. to access an attorney for a free consultation.

NHSC Virtual Job Fairs
The National Health Service Corps Virtual Job Fairs are on-line versions of traditional job fairs that offers real–time interaction with representatives from National Health Service Corps (NHSC) sites and NURSE Corps critical shortage facilities. Register for the next one Tuesday, July 18, from 6:45 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. ET.

Growing Older with a Smile: Promoting Oral Health for Older Adults Webinar
America’s population is rapidly aging with more natural teeth and higher expectations of maintaining oral health than ever before. This webinar will review key oral health concerns for older adults, connections between oral and systemic health, and potential barriers to dental care for older adults, as well as resources to address them. Register here for the free webinar on July 20, 12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. CDT.

NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Students to Service Loan Repayment Program (S2S LRP) provides loan repayment to medical (MD and DO) or dental (DDS or DMD) students in their final year of school in return for a commitment to provide primary health care full time for at least three years at an approved NHSC site in a Health Professional Shortage Area of greatest need. The next NHSC Students to Service application is scheduled to open in Fall 2017.

Rural Health Advocacy Program
The Minnesota Rural Health Association is facilitating an eight-month course that gives you the tools to navigate the Legislature and be a more effective advocate for your organization and the people you serve. Register now for the 2017-2018 program by contacting

Rural Health Clinic Technical Assistance Series
The Rural Health Clinic Technical Assistance conference call series connects you with timely and useful information on operational and policy issues specific to Rural Health Clinics.

Receive Statewide Air Quality Forecasts and Alerts
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is now issuing daily air quality forecasts and air quality alerts as needed for 17 locations across the state. Become “air aware” and sign up to receive air quality forecasts and alerts.


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Lac qui Parle Health Network
Lac qui Parle Health Network was awarded a HRSA Rural Health Network Development Program Grant. The grant is a three-year grant for $300,000 a year for a total of $900,000. By developing consistent and streamlined systems for screening and referral, building infrastructures for shared exchange of health information, providing continuing education opportunities for providers, and conducting educational outreach to community members, the Lac qui Parle Behavioral Health Collaboration will increase collaboration and efficiencies resulting in improved access to behavioral health services. They were also awarded a HRSA Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant. This grant is a one-year grant for $99,990. This grant will provide funds for completing a regional community health needs assessment and asset mapping process including a strategic planning process for the development of innovative strategies.

2017 Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals
The National Rural Health Association announced its list of 2017 Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals as determined by iVantage Health Analytics in the areas of Quality and Patient Satisfaction. These are the hospitals honored from Minnesota:

New Ulm Medical Center, New Ulm – Overall
Riverwood Healthcare Center, Aitkin – Overall
Mayo Clinic Health System - Saint James, St. James – Quality
Sanford Wheaton Medical Center, Wheaton – Patient Satisfaction
Sanford Luverne Medical Center, Luverne – Quality
Bigfork Valley Hospital, Bigfork – Patient Satisfaction

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ORHPC Staff News

Two University of Minnesota Master of Public Health students will be working in ORHPC for the next year: Geospatial Student Worker Regina Marino and Surge Capacity Student Worker Eric Niehans. Regina and Eric will analyze and utilize Emergency Medical Services field data.

Financial and Technical Assistance Unit Supervisor Will Wilson and Director Mark Schoenbaum participated in “Challenges and Innovations in Rural Health Policy,” a multi-state three day workshop conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Other Minnesota participants were MDH Commissioner Ed Ehlinger, Senators Michele Benson and Tony Lourey, Representatives Deb Kiel and Dave Baker and Medicaid Director Marie Zimmerman. The group discussed Minnesota rural health issues and plans and will be working to follow-up.

Flex Program Coordinator Judy Bergh attended Cass Lake IHS Hospital site visit with Carrie Zimmerman from Stratis Health's Indian Health Service Project. Judy also attended the Time Critical Care Collaboration meeting in Warroad.

Rural Health Policy Researcher Emma Distel and Flex Program Coordinator Judy Bergh attended the Bigfork Valley Hospital groundbreaking ceremony for the clinic addition.

Bigfork clinic groundbreaking 2017


Policy Planner Darcy Dungan-Seaver attended a meeting in Black River Falls convened by the Wisconsin State Office of Rural Health. It was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project sponsoring four national meetings in rural areas to answer the question, “How do rural communities work on rural health needs and how can we best engage with rural communities?" The conclusions and ideas from this meeting will be carried back to a national research project on how large foundations can better engage with rural communities around health.

LUCAS Grant Coordinator Jodi Millner traveled throughout Central Minnesota (North Branch, Monticello, Little Falls and Crosslake) for the Central EMS region LUCAS disbursement and training sessions. A total of 28 devices were disbursed in the region. This concluded the original Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Rural Health Care grant goal of providing a LUCAS device to every eligible rural licensed ambulance service and hospital wishing to participate in the program.


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Health Equity
• Governor Dayton announces dates and locations of ten water quality town hall meetings to be held across Minnesota (Minnesota Office of Governor Mark Dayton & Lt. Governor Tina Smith).
• State approaches to reducing health disparities (National Conference of State Legislatures).
• White Bear food shelf fills gaps in summer diets of children in need (St. Paul Pioneer Press).

Health Care
Competition heats up for patients in Grand Rapids (Minneapolis Star Tribune).
Minnesota children get a boost for mental health (Minnesota Department of Human Services).
A pharmacy fills a void on Red Bank's west side (The Two River Times).
5 ways to improve palliative care (HealthLeaders Media).

Rural Health
• State legislators address rural health care at Duluth conference (Duluth News Tribune).
• Rural Minnesotans saw biggest insurance gains from Affordable Care Act (Minnesota Department of Health).
• Rural hospitals get trauma care training (The Daily Mining Gazette).
• Medicaid in small towns and rural America: A lifeline for children, families, and communities (Georgetown University and North Carolina Rural Health Research Program).
• Invasive cancer incidence, 2004–2013, and deaths, 2006–2015, in nonmetropolitan and metropolitan counties — United States (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

• Training for veterans (St. Scholastica).
• Foreign-born physicians strengthen health care in Central Minnesota (St. Cloud Times).
• Local doctor residency program seeks to address physician shortage (The Eureka Times-Standard).
• Local students accepted to UW rural medical training program (The Dunn County News).
• Nonprofits will care for an aging America, but under what workforce conditions? (Nonprofit Quarterly).

Trump's Surgeon General pick built reputation fighting HIV and opioids in Indiana (Minnesota Public Radio).
Greater opioid use and mental health disorders are linked in a new study (The Washington Post).
Minnesota's Lake County looks for exit on broadband project (Minneapolis Star Tribune).
Willmar hospital, doctors to link with CentraCare (Minneapolis Star Tribune).

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The Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians' Summer Destination CME conference will be held August 18-19 in Alexandria.

The 2017 3RNet Annual Conference will be held September 12-14 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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.