Message from the Executive Director and the President:
We're pleased to bring you a summary of our 2010 Annual Report. This report reflects a growing sense of accomplishment on the part of the organization and its members. Print copies of the expanded Annual Report will be available for distribution at conferences.
Highlight: News that the Jessie B. Cox Foundation had awarded us a $50,000 grant to fund our leadership development project was a true breakthrough moment! We have long recognized the need for leadership development and a strong advocacy network on the state and local level to promote rural health issues. With the receipt of the Cox award, we can now move forward with this project. The award underscores the RoundTable's stature as an organization with the capacity and resources to increase access to healthcare and health coverage for rural residents through regional, state and local collaboration.
Other successes: Despite the economic downturn, our conferences attracted enthusiastic participants. The New England State Offices of Rural Health continued to provide strong support as we grappled with issues of greatest importance to the region: rural oral health, quality improvements in our small rural hospitals, and chronic healthcare workforce shortages. Many thanks to our volunteer members whose commitment and willingness to tackle challenging issues make the RoundTable a respected, highly visible player on the New England rural health scene.
Marion Pawlek, Executive Director
John Gale, President
Partnerships - Advocacy/Leadership
(The Policy Education and Constituent Engagement Initiative)
The Cox Foundation grant of $50,000 to fund the leadership development project was contingent on the RoundTable receiving support from the AmeriCorps VISTA program to fund six VISTA volunteers to carry out the work - and we were successful! We expect that these volunteers will be "on the ground and running" by mid-2011. Health systems, community health clinics, and other agencies have stepped up eagerly to offer their facilities as host sites for the volunteers.
New England Performance Improvement (NEPI) Network
Another successful - and evolving project - is the New England Performance Improvement (NEPI) network, developed in 2004 as collaboration among the Rural Hospital Flexibility (FLEX) programs in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. The network, coordinated through the RoundTable, focuses on performance improvement measures applicable to small rural and critical access hospitals. New in 2010 is NEPI's partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). With funds from each state's FLEX program, critical access hospitals may sign up for IHI "Expeditions," which are web-based, interactive programs that teach frontline teams how to make rapid improvement in areas of concern. For hospitals, one major concern is how to improve their HCAHPS scores (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems); this will be the first Expedition offered in our area. At year's end, some 26 hospitals have committed to this project, which will get underway in March 2011.
Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care (VPQHC) -
A Project of the New England Performance Initiative
In March, the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care (VPQHC) issued a report, Hospital Performance Measurement in Rural New England: Recommendations for Improvement, which grew out of a study commissioned by the RoundTable in 2009. VPQHC studied hospital reporting requirements in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont and developed recommendations for rural measure standards for Critical Access Hospitals in the four states. The RoundTable sees the study as critical to advancing its interest in working with key stakeholders in the public and private sector to make CAH data collection and reporting more pertinent to the rural settings of these hospitals. Read the full report.
In December, the RoundTable and the MA State Office of Rural Health collaborated with 3R Net (The National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network) on an all-day meeting to explore rural health recruiting opportunities, hosted by Cathleen McElligott, Director, State Office of Rural Health. This hands-on session enabled plenty of give and take on "what works" in rural recruitment. Attendees suggested further collaboration with the RoundTable on workforce issues, such as joint participation in recruiting conferences.
Major Conferences: New England Rural Oral Health and 13th Annual Symposium
For the fifth year, the RoundTable hosted a highly successful New England Rural Oral Health Conference in September. Key speakers emphasized that both rural children and rural elders need easier and better access to oral health care.
Dental Hygiene Students from Mt. Ida College, Boston,
and their instructor (far left) took part in
the 5th Rural Oral Health Conference.
The 13th Annual Symposium in October was structured around the theme of "Connecting Personal Health and Public Health in Rural New England." On the half-day preceding the Symposium - designated "HHS Day" - representatives from U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and the Health Resources and Services Administration brought the latest news on implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Each year the RoundTable gives awards to outstanding rural health advocates and practitioners. This year a new award, the "Trailblazer" was given to former RoundTable president and founding member Sharleen Moffatt, in recognition of her achievements in advancing the cause of rural health.
Dr. Craig Jones Reviews
Vermont's Blueprint for Health
Sharleen Moffatt Accepts
A Light Moment at the Conference
Rural Health Policy Actions
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (left)
Meets with RoundTable Group
NRHA Policy Institute
In January 2010, Executive Director Marion Pawlek and other Board members including President John Gale and Cathleen McElligott attended the annual National Rural Health Association Policy Institute in Washington, along with Martha McLeod and Nancy Frank from the North Country Health Consortium, Whitefield, NH. They visited the congressional offices of the Maine and New Hampshire delegations to discuss healthcare issues.
HRSA call: As a follow-up to the very successful "HRSA Day" at the 2009 Symposium, Board members held a conference call with Maureen Quinn and Chris Bersani, of the Boston Region 1 HRSA Office. Goal: to keep the lines of communication open between the RoundTable and HRSA and to plan for an expanded "HHS Day" at the 2010 Annual Symposium.
VA call: In June, Board members took part in a conference call with Penelope Markle, Senior Project Manger, Veterans Rural Health Resource Center, Eastern Region, Togus, Maine. Penelope, a Board member, reviewed key issues facing rural veterans. Access to health care is a major challenge, as 1 out of 3 enrolled veterans lives in rural and highly rural areas. The Veterans Administration is working hard to improve care for rural veterans: it established the Office of Rural Health in 2007, is collaborating with Federal/community partners, and is taking a lead role in promoting adoption of telemedicine. There may be opportunities for the RoundTable to engage in collaborative efforts with the VA in future.
Neil Young, Rural Health
Dartmouth Medical School
In 2010, we published 12 online issues of our newsletter plus a special issue on the Rural Health Scholars Programs at Dartmouth and UMass Medical School. Traffic to our web site has increased by every measure: page views, visits, and hits. And we have a presence on Facebook and Twitter. ?
Since its founding in 1997, membership in the RoundTable has increased year over year to the current level of 709. In addition to individual memberships, the RoundTable invites Organizational and Corporate membership; this category has also grown in recent years.?
For more information, contact:
Marion Pawlek, Executive Director
New England Rural Health RoundTable