Rural Health and Primary Care

Where we've been, where we are and where we are going...

What's New and Featured Resources

Community Star nominations are now being accepted by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) until August 1, 2022 at 5:00 PM CT. For some Community Star FAQs please visit the website: Community Star FAQs - Power of Rural.

A nominee’s work and accomplishments should include at least one of the following:

  • Demonstrate that they contribute to cultivating a vital, innovative rural health landscape and infrastructure
  • Develop leadership capacity to grow rural population health and health equity
  • Build capacity for rural data-driven program planning and decision making
  • Contribute to rural health innovation, education, collaboration, and communication
  • All nominees must be located, working, or volunteering in a designated rural area

If you have someone in mind for a Community Star and would like to make a nomination, please visit this website.

The Northern Border Region: A Health-Focused Landscape Analysis

The Maine Rural Health Research Center has released a Chartbook examining population health and healthcare access for Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont, and for the region overall. Identifies strengths and assets of the Northern Border region states, as well as opportunities for improvement. Features demographics and statistics on quality of care, health outcomes, health behaviors, mortality rates and causes, Health Professional Shortage Areas, telehealth policies, and telehealth grants awarded from 2018-2021. Includes maps showing locations of substance use treatment facilities, Rural Health Clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and hospitals.

Please see below for two new Funding Announcements:

The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) awarded approximately $1.9 million to twenty awardees for the 2022 Rural Health Network Development Planning (Network Planning) Program. The Network Planning program, administered by HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) focuses on the planning and development of integrated health care networks, specifically network participants who do not have a history of formal collaborative efforts in order to (i) achieve efficiencies; (ii) expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of essential health care services; and (iii) strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. The intent is that rural health networks, comprised of both rural and urban organizations, will expand access to care, increase the use of health information technology, explore alternative health care delivery models, and continue to achieve quality health care across the continuum of care.

Recipients from 14 states received up to $100,000 for a one-year project period that will focus on building, strengthening, and formalizing integrated health care networks and systems, coordinating service delivery, conducting community health needs assessments, and increasing service capacity.

You can view the list of awardees here.


We are pleased to announce that, through the RCORP initiative, we are able to compete a new funding opportunity to address the availability of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in rural communities.  The RCORP-Medication-Assisted Treatment Access program will provide funding to rural communities to establish new MAT access points and increase their capacity to provide sustainable MAT services.  And while this program is primarily intended to support MAT to treat opioid use disorder, HRSA encourages applicants to also target alcohol use disorder with MAT if the need exists.

The funding opportunity is now available on (HRSA-22-165).  HRSA anticipates making 10 awards at $1,000,000 per award, per year, for a 3-year period of performance.  Applications are due on July 29, 2022.  Please refer to the NOFO for specific requirements of the program, information about the upcoming technical assistance webinar, and other important details and information for applicants.

We would greatly appreciate your assistance in helping to distribute this to your stakeholders so that rural communities can take advantage of this important funding opportunity.

Check out the Updates: Dental Clinics and Services for Maine Residents and Maine's School Oral Health Program Handbook and check out the Oral Health Program Poster Contest winners!

Vulnerable Rural Hospital Assistance Program Now Open for Applicants

CORH logo

The Center for Optimizing Rural Health (CORH) works with up to 30 hospitals per year through the year-long Vulnerable Rural Hospital Assistance Program (VRHAP). The Year 5 application for the new cohort will be open from June 1 to July 31, 2022. Selected hospitals receive free technical assistance – guidance, resources, and recommendations – from a team of rural hospital experts, interactive sessions with peer hospitals, and learning opportunities tailored to topics that can benefit your hospital. Each VRHAP hospital is assigned a CORH manager who becomes familiar with its unique situation. This manager taps into the full expertise of their CORH colleagues and acts as a sounding board for hospital leadership. VRHAP hospitals also have exclusive access to a suite of educational and capacity-building resources. Click here to learn more about the VRHAP program.

Northern Border Regional Commission State and Region Chartbooks: A Health-Focused Landscape Analysis

June 21, 2022
1:00 PM/ET | 12:00 PM/CT | 11:00 AM/MT | 10:00 AM/PT

During this webinar, Dr. Katherine Ahrens will explore a series of chartbooks compiling the most recent publicly available data related to health and healthcare access at the county-level and state-level for the Northern Border Region: ME, NH, NY, and VT. Dr. Ahrens will discuss healthcare professional shortage areas and will highlight counties with worse health outcomes, as compared to the rest of the counties in the region. Dr. Ahrens is an epidemiologist and assistant research professor in the Public Health Program at the University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service. Her research focuses on maternal and child health. She is also the co-investigator from Maine for the Medicaid Outcomes Distributed Research Network and a research investigator at the Maine Rural Health Research Center.

Registration is free and required. Attendance of the live webinar is limited to 500 persons. If you are unable to attend, you will be able to access the recording, archived on the Gateway website.

Learn More | Zoom Registration

The Rural Health and Primary Care Program is Pleased to present their Spring Workshop which will feature renowned speaker Allison Massari.

Please see the attached PDF for more information on the workshop and for information on how to apply.


Are you an employer in a rural area looking for a health care provider? Are you a health care professional looking for an opportunity in Maine?

3RNet is a national network that matches health care professionals with employers in rural areas. Register today! It is a free resource for both health care professionals and health care facilities located in rural Maine.


Introducing NRHA's Vaccine Confidence Toolkit

In partnership with Legato Healthcare Marketing, NRHA has developed a collection of rural-specific vaccine education materials. These materials are targeted to hospitals, business/community partners and the community as a whole and feature rural-specific messaging, based on current research, focus on "caring for our community" and getting the real facts to promote confidence in the vaccine. They are customizable to allow for localized messaging and branding by hospitals and community partners.

The tools are available at NRHA's website. If you need assistance you may contact NRHA's communication team or at Rural Health and Primary Care.


J-1 Waiver Guide for 2021

The J-1 Waiver Guide is available for 2021. Please make sure you review the guide carefully to prepare for the various changes to the Program. If you have any questions or need assistance (such as using HPSA find, or ideas for community support) do not hesitate to contact the office.


Thank you!

The Rural Health and Primary Care Program wishes to thank Robert Aronson and Matthew Webster of Fredrickson & Byron of Minneapolis, Minnesota for sharing their expertise with our health care leaders and human resource professionals regarding the recruitment and retention of international medical graduates. We hope all that attended found the workshop informative and valuable. Watch for additional recruitment and retention workshops coming later this year...


Sentinel Events Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletters prepared by the Sentinel Events Team of the Division of Licensing and Certification. The National Action Plan to Advance Patient Safety, preventing medication errors and preventing falls are some of the topics covered.

OSHA Guidelines

OSHA has developed guidance to help prevent worker exposure to SARS-CoV-2.


FrontLine WarmLine

A joint effort of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Maine Department of Public Safety's Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians, The Opportunity Alliance, Maine Psychological Association, and the Maine Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, the FrontLine Warmline serves health care professionals, such as physicians, nurses and counselors, as well as emergency medical services personnel, law enforcement, and others who are directly responding to the pandemic in Maine.

The FrontLine WarmLine is available to clinicians and first responders from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week by calling (207) 221-8196 or 866-367-4440.

Federal Office

CMS Issues COVID-19 Guidance for RHCs and FQHCs

On April 17, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published guidance for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). Congress and CMS made several changes to the RHC and FQHC requirements and payments. These changes include new payment for telehealth services, expansion of virtual communication services, and revision of the home health agency shortage requirement for visiting nursing services, among others. The National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC) recently hosted a webinar sponsored by FORHP to explain updates to RHC stakeholders.

Other announcements from the Office of Rural Health Policy:Week of April 23, 2020 (PDF)

Public Health Emergency Preparedness would like to invite you to join Maine Responds and the Maine Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) today!

What does Maine Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) do? – Our volunteer programs reinforce our state’s public health infrastructure and support low-stress/no-fault exercise environments that test critical response capabilities. When MRC members are not responding to an emergency or disaster – the vast majority of the time – your focus will be on public health and emergency preparedness. The manner in which this work occurs varies by unit and is driven by each unit’s and each volunteer’s individual interests.

Strategies for Disseminating and Implementing COVID‐19 Public Health Prevention Practices in Rural Areas

A piece by Beth Prusaczyk, PhD from the Dept. of Medicine Division of General Medical Sciences, Washington School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO to assist community stakeholders and/or those working with community stakeholders.

Federal Office

Factsheet: Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks

This fact sheet from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) identifies the signs of stress and provides a set of practical tips and actions for relieving it during a crisis.

Other announcements from the Office of Rural Health Policy:Week of April 2, 2020 (PDF)

Recommended Resources and Helpful Links

Use the following resources to obtain information and monitor the COVID-19 efforts.

Federal Office

SAMHSA Resources

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a list of help lines, websites, and virtual meeting options to support substance use treatment, as well as resources and information for mental health response to COVID-19. Be well and take care.

Other announcements from the Office of Rural Health Policy: Week of March 26, 2020 (PDF)


COVID-19 Announcement for Current NHSC Participants

The NHSC has mechanisms in place to ensure that, in the event of an emergency or disaster, participants are able to remain in compliance with their service obligation. Participants whose circumstances change – for example, they are required to be away from their approved service site more than the allotted seven weeks per service year; they become unemployed as a direct result of the outbreak; or they are directed by their employer to provide care outside of the NHSC-approved site – should contact a program analyst immediately via the Customer Service Portal for assistance.


COVID-19 Announcement for Nurse Corps Participants

The Nurse Corps has mechanisms in place to ensure that, in the event of an emergency or disaster, participants are able to remain in compliance with their service obligation. Participants whose circumstances change – for example, they are required to be away from their approved service site more than the allotted seven weeks per service year; they become unemployed as a direct result of the outbreak; or they are directed by their employer to provide care outside of a Nurse Corps-approved health care facility – should contact a program analyst immediately via the BHW Customer Service Portal for assistance.


Attention Health Centers: Emergency Preparedness and Recovery Resources for Health Centers

Access information and resources compiled by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Share the Facts

Here are some COVID-19 posters and social media templates to use and/or share.


Report: Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

This report contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.

Promoting access to quality health care for Mainers living in rural and underserved areas.

Our Priorities

  • Increase resources and reduce costs for health care statewide with a focus on rural areas;
  • Facilitate communication among stakeholders on rural health issues;
  • Increase access to primary, mental and dental health care services for underserved populations;
  • Reduce geographic, financial, transportation and other barriers that prevent access to health care services.