By Gerri Kelly, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health | November 15, 2012
Rural communities in Arizona are wonderful places to live and work, which is why 900,000 people (16 percent of the population) call them home. These small towns, farming communities and frontier areas are places where neighbors know each other, listen to each other, respect each other and work together to benefit the greater good.
Rural communities provide the rest of the country with a wealth of services and commodities, and they are the economic engine that has helped the United State become the world economic power it is today.
National Rural Health Day is Nov. 15, and the Center for Rural Health, or CRH, at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, is celebrating all week long.
Gov. Jan Brewer proclaimed the week of Nov. 12-16 as Rural Health Week to recognize Arizona’s growing rural population and to honor the work that is being done to assist these communities.
Kingman Regional Medical Center (KRMC) and the Mohave County Department of Public Health have begun a major initiative to identify healthcare needs in Mohave County. As part of the initiative, they are performing a community health assessment, involving:
- Collecting local statistics and data related to health and quality of life within Mohave County communities.
- Obtaining perspectives and identifying community health needs via in-depth interviews with key community stakeholders.
- Using surveys to obtain input and perspectives from County residents regarding health, quality of life, and needs for health-related services in their community.
The health assessment will be a first in the area— never before has there been a comprehensive study of community health done with community member input at a local level. The effort will provide a realistic picture of the actual health needs and issues unique to our population, geography, and economy. In turn, this will allow for better planning and policies that address true health concerns and needs in Mohave County.
To date, Kingman, Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City have engaged in collaboration to form their own community coalitions. In addition, they have formed a larger coalition that is comprised of community members throughout Mohave County. The coalition includes over 100 individuals who represent a broad spectrum of community interests, including city and county government, local Indian tribes, healthcare, education, law enforcement, public services, business, media, charities, faith-based services, youth, senior citizens, minorities, and special needs groups.
For further information about the Mohave County Community Health Improvement Initiative, please visit the KRMC website at www.azkrmc.com (listed under the “Community Partnerships” tab) or contact:
Mohave County Department of Public Health
928-753-0794 ext. 4165
Kingman Regional Medical Center
By Lorri Allen
TUCSON – A $1.3 million federal grant will allow a University of Arizona center to expand a regional program helping hospitals and health care providers get into or make better use of telemedicine. The Southwest Telehealth Resource Center, part of the Arizona Telemedicine Program and one of 14 regional centers around country, serves Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. The resource center shares information on a variety of topics from technology to techniques for assessing patients remotely. It also offers educational modules. The four-year grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, will allow the center to expand that mission, said Elizabeth Krupinski, its program director. “We have the strategies down, so the next four years is going to allow us to provide more webinars and more training,” she said. “It also allows us to interact more with the other Telehealth Resource Centers.”
By Trisha Maldonado (Douglas Dispatch)
Officials for Southeast Arizona Medical Center announced that Annie Benson has been promoted to chief officer executive on Oct. 17.
BENSON – Teresa Vincifora, chief nursing officer at Benson Hospital, received a second role in April overseeing quality assurance. That was after recruiting to replace a retiring employee came up empty.
“In rural hospitals, we wear many hats,” Vincifora said. “Jobs are really hard to fill.”
Then a program administered by the University of Arizona provided funds for her to attend a quality directors’ boot camp in Nashville.
“We don’t have the resources that large hospitals do, so that was just such an opportunity for me and so helpful,” she said. “There’s so much to learn. It got me fired up for the position.”
The Center for Rural Health, part of the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, has been helping hospitals in those kinds of ways for 25 years. Vincifora’s assistance came from the center’s Flexibility Program, called “Flex” for short, established by Congress in 1997 to address the disparity in Medicare reimbursement between urban and rural hospitals.
By David Bui
Dr. Graciela Silva, Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing, will be the Center for Rural Health’s inaugural Courtesy, Adjunct, and Affiliate Appointments Program member. Her research background, expertise, and interest in working on U.S.-Mexico Border issues will be a beneficial addition to the Center’s mission.
Dr. Silva first learned about the affiliate program shortly after joining the College of Nursing and thought of it as an opportunity to stay connected with public health research on the U.S. Mexico Border. “I was very excited to learn about this opportunity so I could continue collaborating with the College of Public Health,” she said.
Dr. Silva completed her bachelors in Guadalajara, Mexico and also at the University of Arizona, studying Medical Technology. She went on to obtain her Master of Public Health at the University of Arizona and eventually her PhD in Epidemiology as well.
As a doctoral student, Dr. Silva was awarded an NIH Minority Fellowship to research asthma and respiratory diseases, and she has also conducted post-doctoral research in sleep disorders. She has published numerous studies in these areas and has a depth of experience in working with longitudinal cohort data.
More recently, Dr. Silva worked on an evaluation of the Healthy Border 2010, a health promotion plan similar to Healthy People 2010, and focused primarily on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico Border. Having lived in Nogales, Arizona, border health issues are very important to Dr. Silva. “The issue of border health is dear to my heart, and I wish to make some sort of impact in reducing morbidity in this area,” she said.
As a Center for Rural Health affiliate, Dr. Silva would like to continue her work in respiratory diseases, especially in drug-resistant tuberculosis along the Mexican border. She has a CDC fellowship in emerging infectious diseases and would like to find a way to integrate her research into her work with the Center for Rural Health.
The Arizona Strategic Enterprise Technology Office (ASET) is launching an Unconnected Providers’ grant program for the purpose of supporting Health Information Exchange (HIE) planning and implementation for health care organizations. The grant program is aimed at stimulating the adoption of HIE for healthcare providers who currently have not planned or implemented an information exchange solution.
Highlights of ASET Grant Program
- Total amount of funding available for distribution is up to $1.1 million.
- Estimated award amount for a single organization application is up to $25,000 for implementation planning, and up to $50,000 if implementing an HIE solution, with joint applications being eligible for up to $50,000 for implementation planning and up to $100,000 for implementing an HIE solution.
- Period of performance of the grant is six (6) months – January 2013 to June 2013.
- Matching requirements – cash or in-kind of at least 50% of the grant award.
- Individual providers are not eligible for this grant award.
- The target for this grant program is healthcare organizations and facilities.
- Grant applications are due to ASET by Friday, November 16, 2012.
Please see the attachment for guidance.
Healthcare coverage for low-income and sick patients in Arizona is extremely limited. One of the few relatively affordable options for the uninsured is the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). PCIP coverage is intended to serve as bridge for coverage until 2014 when health insurance exchanges become operational and the regulation ensuring people can no longer be denied coverage based on their health status is in place.
More than 70,000 people are now covered by PCIP since the program started in 2010. PCIP enrollment has not been as successful as it could be due in large part due to the lack of a marketing campaign. Grassroots efforts in Arizona and other states have helped increase PCIP enrollment, but they have had only limited success.
The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, along with other healthcare partners, have produced commercials in English and Spanish to help generate public awareness of the program. The commercials are captivating, appeals to a wide audience and it has tremendous potential to grow PCIP enrollment at a faster pace.
These commercials are free for anyone to download and link to the YouTube versions. Here is the link to a background webpage with downloadable and online versions of the commercials:
- PCIP English Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6k-w5Kw9FM&feature=relmfu
- PCIP Spanish Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d5rnA_med0
We hope everyone – healthcare providers, community groups and the general public – will help promote the commercials so patients with pre-existing conditions will learn about PCIP and enroll in the program.
Please consider using the commercials in the following ways:
· Distribute this memo to all of your contacts;
· If you are a healthcare provider, show the commercials to patients in waiting areas in healthcare settings;
· Add the link to the YouTube version of the commercials on your web pages, Facebook, Blogs, etc.;
· Distribute the commercials through electronic media and encourage others to do the same;
· and, make a donation to air the commercials on television.
For additional information about the commercial and ways to donate to purchase air time, please contact Pete Wertheim at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the following phone numbers: (602) 445-4318 (office) or (602) 515-3847 (cell).
By David Bui
According to the Arizona Rural Health Workforce Trend Analysis report, rural Arizona areas have proportionally less healthcare professionals per capita than urban areas in Arizona—for nearly all health professions analyzed in the report. This shortfall in workforce has huge implications for healthcare delivery and health status for rural populations since health workforce distribution directly influences access to care.
Moreover, the authors of the report suggest that the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 to rapidly increase the demand for patient services with resulting expanded coverage. The impending retirement of the ‘baby boomer’ generation is also expected to increase the demands on Arizona’s healthcare system. Arizona’s health workforce—especially in rural areas—will need to find strategies to meet this growing demand for health services.
A policy brief, prepared by Kimberly Ryan for the Center for Rural Health, summarizes the issues put forth by the Arizona Rural Health Workforce Trend Analysis report and offers several short-term and long-term strategies to address the expanding healthcare demands in rural Arizona. You can review the brief on our website, here.
The Southwest Rural Policy Network (SWRPN) has been awarded a grant from the Rural Policy Action Partnership to initiate a project in Rural Digital Advocacy. The grant provides support to rural advocacy groups like the SWRPN to leverage technology and social media tools to strengthen their rural policy work and campaigns.
The SWRPN has proposed to build an online “Rural Southwest Digital Community Center” as a platform to foster collaborative efforts between community-based projects in the rural Southwest. The website will replace their current site, and serve as a repository of shared resources for the rural communities in New Mexico and Arizona.
You can read more about the grant and the “Rural Southwest Digital Community Center” proposal here.
The Arizona AHCCCS has announced on their website that KidsCare II, a new children’s healthcare coverage program, will be available May 1, 2012 through December 31, 2013 for a limited number of eligible children.
KidsCare II has the same benefits and premium requirements as KidsCare, but with a lower income limit for eligibility. The income limit for KidsCare II is 175% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), based on family size.
Beginning June 25, 2012, all applications will be considered for eligibility in the KidsCare II program. Children will no longer need to be on the KidsCare waiting list.
Arizona’s Children's Health Insurance Program, known as KidsCare, operates as part of the AHCCCS program and is for children in households with incomes between 100%-200% of the federal poverty limit (FPL). Benefits and premium requirements for KidsCare II are the same as the regular KidsCare program.
The recent recession severely impacted Arizona's economy and led to a state budget shortfall, which required difficult decisions across all of state government. One of these decisions was to freeze enrollment into the KidsCare program on January 1, 2010. Since then, all KidsCare applicants have been placed on a waiting list in the event that enrollment could be re-opened.
KidsCare II is temporary and will end December 31, 2013. AHCCCS will assist children enrolled in KidsCare II to transition to the Health Insurance Exchange, which will be open for enrollment and coverage by that date.
The Pima County Women’s Health Review is the result of a collaborative effort among three groups: The Pima County/Tucson Women’s Commission, The University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health Center for Rural Health, and the University’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women.
The report was developed from information gathered at five structured discussion groups involving elderly women living in the Green Valley area, and economically disadvantaged women living in Tucson’s south side area. The aim was to find out if targeted groups of women experienced equal access to health care services, and also to discover information about their issues and challenges.
The report finds that the lack of access to health care services is devastating to both physical and mental health when a woman in Pima County cannot afford to pay for health care for herself or her minor dependents. When a person does not have the financial resources to pay for medical and/or diagnostic care, medications, dental or visual care, these problems and concerns do not go away. Instead, they usually worsen until serious problems develop and the individual then is forced to seek care in the emergency room, a far more expensive solution than if the problem had been dealt with in the first place. The report also addresses the seriousness of issues that face elderly women raising children. These are women whose struggle is enormous. In their so called “golden years” they find themselves raising grand children who they have adopted or are fostering in order to keep their families together.
To help to resolve some of the issues identified in the report, recommendations are made for action by Pima County Government, the Arizona Division of Aging and Adult Services, the Pima Council on Aging, the University of Arizona, the Kinship and Adoption Resource and Education (KARE) Family Center, the Tribal nations of Pascua-Yaqui and Tohono O-odham, and the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona. All recommendations are delineated in the report.
USDA Rural Utilities Service Community Connect Grant Program – Notice of Solicitation of Applications
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces its Community Connect Grant Program application window for Fiscal Year 2012. The Community Connect program provides grants to establish broadband transmission service in rural communities which are currently underserved. Funds may be used to build broadband infrastructure and establish a community center which offers free access to broadband services for community residents for two years.
Access to affordable and reliable broadband connectivity in rural communities improves the ability of rural health care providers to effectively utilize health information technology, achieve the meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR) and receive EHR Incentive payments. Broadband is particularly critical in rural areas, where advanced communications and utilization of health IT can shrink the distances that isolate remote communities.
Eligible entities for the Community Connect Grant program include state and local governments, incorporated organizations, tribal organizations or cooperative, private corporations or limited liability companies organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis. Eligible areas include a single community with a population less than 20,000 which does not have Broadband Transmission Service.
The application deadline is June 18, 2012. Please visit the Community Connect Grant Program website at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov see the attached Notice of Solicitation of Applications for the USDA RUS Community Connect Grant Program for additional information.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 30, 2012
Contact: Laura Oxley, ADHS Public Information: (602) 542-1094
In recognition of National Infant Immunization Week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC Foundation are honoring immunization advocates around the country with the first ever CDC Childhood Immunization Champion awards. These awards acknowledge people who have made immunization success possible in their community, including Leslie Maier from Tucson, Arizona.
Leslie lost her seventeen-year-old son, Chris, to bacterial meningitis in 2005. Chris Maier was a healthy, athletic high school senior and star soccer player when he suddenly became ill with meningitis and died within 18 hours of showing symptoms of illness. In the wake of her son’s death, Leslie joined the National Meningitis Associations’ (NMA) Moms on Meningitis program to teach other families about the dangers of meningococcal disease, and prevention methods, including immunization. She was elected as a NMA board member in 2006.
Leslie is an advocate for meningitis education, prevention and immunization. She was a driving force behind the addition of meningitis immunization requirement to Arizona’s school rules in 2008. Leslie collaborated with the Arizona Department of Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and The Arizona Partnership for Immunization to develop meningitis education materials for parents, schools and health care providers in Arizona. She continues to honor Chris’ memory by speaking at national, regional and local meetings and conferences.
WHAT: Arizona’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award Winner
WHEN: Wednesday, May 2nd 3:30 pm
WHERE: Arizona Department of Health Services, 150 N 18th Ave, Phoenix
WHY: Educate Arizonans about the importance of immunizations
WHO: Leslie Maier & ADHS Immunization Staff
Later that evening, Leslie will be recognized at The Arizona Partnership for Immunization’s 16th Annual Big Shots for Arizona Award Ceremony at the Phoenix Country Club.
National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States. This year, during NIIW, communities across the U.S. celebrate the CDC Childhood Immunization Champions.
“Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and elsewhere. Without the diligent efforts of our champions, these potentially deadly diseases would be an even greater threat to our nation’s children,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “Each of us has the potential to be a champion by protecting children’s health through immunization.”
KANSAS CITY, MO, April 30, 2012 – According to data released by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), small, rural hospitals nationally have equal or better quality outcomes, and cost less per Medicare beneficiary than their urban counterparts. The intersection between cost and quality defines the value proposition that rural systems of care provide to the Medicare program. Despite the cost-effectiveness of rural hospitals, many may be forced to close if Congress does not reauthorize two rural hospitals programs set to expire on October 1.