NRHA's Rural Health Voices blog offers informed commentary on the latest news in rural health care from NRHA staff and editorials from selected contributors.

How rural hospital staffing can go global

One chilly morning in February 2016, Mary Rose and her family were greeted at a U.S. airport. The weather must have been shocking to the family who hailed from Quezon City, Metro Manila in the Philippines. They had been warned about Iowa winters and the need for proper clothing, but there’s something unsettling about saying farewell to family and friends in 90-degree heat and humidity only to deplane a few hours later to the foreign concept of wind chills.

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We are winning the COVID-19 fight, not the war

In the struggle against COVID-19, vaccines are our best weapon. We must continue the push to increase vaccination rates. Many people wonder if they need a vaccine if they already had COVID or if the infection itself makes them immune. These are reasonable questions – but a definite answer is not known. Here is what we do know.

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Top critical access hospitals announced

The 20 highest-ranked critical access hospitals (CAHs) in the country, as determined by the Chartis Center for Rural Health, were recently announced by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). An awards ceremony will be held during NRHA’s Critical Access Hospital Conference in September in Kansas City, Mo. The determining factors for the Top 20 CAHs were based on the results of the Hospital Strength Index and its eight indices of performance: inpatient market share, outpatient...

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Rural COVID-19 relief summary as of April 2021

Throughout the fall and winter, rural America was disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the height of the pandemic more than 94 percent of nonmetropolitan counties were considered ‘red-zone’ counties, those with a new COVID-19 infection rate of 100 or more per 100,000 residents per week. Unfortunately, while rural America was addressing the pandemic head-on, relief stalled. From July until December 2020, rural providers were facing a disproportionate share of...

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NRHA outlines new Rural Emergency Hospital model

Rural hospital closures are at crisis levels with over 135 rural hospitals closing since 2010 and more than 450 identified as vulnerable to closure based on performance levels. Section 125 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 created the Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) model as a new Medicare provider type. NRHA believes the REH model will be an opportunity for vulnerable rural communities to maintain an essential access point for health services. It will be critical for...

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NRHA joins HHS' COVID-19 Community Corps, more

To reinforce the association’s dedication to health equity in the midst of the pandemic, NRHA has recently joined several national coalitions aimed at communicating vaccine safety and efficacy. HHS’ COVID-19 Community Corps aims to establish a network of trusted voices to promote vaccines. The Made to Save Coalition is a public education and grassroots effort to increase vaccine access in communities of color. And the COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project includes...

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JRH Recognizes 2021 Article of Year

The Journal of Rural Health (JRH) will recognize its 2021 Article of the Year during the National Rural Health Association’s (NRHA) virtual 44th Annual Rural Health Conference May 4-7. The JRH Editorial Board selected the winner from all JRH articles published online last year.

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How to review your utilization review in 2021

In today’s health care environment, there are so many barriers to success. For critical access hospitals, utilization review is the first (and often the last) line of revenue defense. With strict parameters (< 96 hour stays, high-acuity patients), discerning inpatient versus outpatient status could not be more crucial. Yet critical access and rural hospitals face clear constraints – lean staffing, less technology, limited size – that make utilization without effective...

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Representatives Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) introduce the Rural Behavioral Health Access Act

Today, Representatives Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) announced the introduction of their bipartisan bill: The Rural Behavioral Health Access Act. This legislation would ensure that Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) retain important flexibility to provide behavioral health services through telehealth after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Top rural and community hospitals announced

The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has announced the 20 highest-ranked prospective payment system (PPS) hospitals in the country based on an evaluation by the Chartis Center for Rural Health. The hospitals are identified using the Hospital Strength Index, the most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural PPS hospital performance. These hospitals will be recognized May 6 during NRHA’s virtual Rural Hospital Innovation Summit.

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