Rural Health and Primary Care

What's New and Featured Resources

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J-1 Waiver Program

Please be advised that Maine's J-1 Waiver spots are filled for 2020. The next application period will begin on October 1, 2021.

Thank you to all the providers for your interest in living and working in Maine! We hope that you will find your employment enjoyable and fulfilling and will stay much longer than your three year commitment.


If you missed our virtual workshop, Don't Worry! Sign up for 3RNet's 2020 Recruitment and Retention Academy...

Maine's Rural Health and Primary Care Program is again sponsoring the six-part webinar series devoted to recruitment and retention of health care providers. We encourage you to sign up and participate in this educational opportunity that is free to all working for the rural and underserved in Maine. We also encourage you to share this announcement with others who could benefit.

For more information and registration instructions, please view our brochure. You may also contact for assistance..


Virtual Event: Putting the Pieces Together: Whole Person Care, Implicit Bias, and Stigma Reduction

This presentation, to be held November 5th at 12:00pm, will provide participants with a background to understanding whole-person care. Tanya Lord's presentation will focus on understanding how biases impact the ability to engage in partnerships of care. She will discuss the concepts to reduce stigmatizing behavior toward patients, families and co-workers and engage the audience in developing personal and professional humility as it relates to learning about and caring for patients and families. Free for NERHA members.

For more information view the brochure.


Webinar: Self Care & Resiliency

Healthcare professionals are challenged daily during the pandemic. To be able to care for others, we must also have the tools and practice of caring for ourselves. Join Dr. Claudia Finkelstein on October 23rd, 2020 at 12:00pm for an informative and important training on Self Care and Resiliency During COVID. Open to all, this webinar is free, and CME will be offered from the Maine AHEC Network for the one-hour session.

Register for the webinar now.

Maine-based health professionals are also encouraged to join the COVID-19 Matters in Maine Echo to be held October 2020 through April 2021. View the brochure for more information and to register.


Get Ready to Welcome Michelle Varcho of 3RNet Back for Advanced Recruitment and Retention Topics

Last Fall the Rural Health and Primary Care Program sponsored a successful day-long recruitment and retention workshop in Augusta. While we wanted to bring you additional in-person events this year, that was not possible for obvious reasons.

Instead, the RHPCP is sponsoring a virtual event to be held on September 30, 2020. Michelle Varcho will again be with us and she will be joined by Jennifer Higgins. Recruitment and retention in difficult times and through the generations will be the advanced topics of instruction.

Guide to the J-1 Waiver Process

Applications for J-1 Waivers will be accepted starting October 1, 2020. We hope that you find our new guide to the process helpful as you are preparing your applications.

Federal Office

Podcast Series for Mid-Level Hospital Managers

Produced by The National Rural Health Resource Center, this six-part podcast series was developed by the Small Rural Hospital Transition Project for rural hospital mid-level management (MLMs). Guests feature MLMs from rural hospitals and subject-matter experts. Tune in to learn best practices for leading through the transition to value and population health. New episodes are released every Tuesday through the end of July at The National Rural Health Resource Center's website

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


Reminder: The CORH Vulnerable Rural Hospital Assistance Program Portal is now OPEN

The Center for Optimizing Rural Health's (CORH's) application portal for the HRSA-funded Rural Hospital Assistance Program is open. The portal will remain open until July 31, 2020. CORH offers technical assistance to 30 rural hospitals each year to help address economic challenges, understand community needs and resources and find ways to ensure hospitals and communities can keep needed care locally. The application is open to all rural and CAH hospitals in the US. Selected hospitals will be notified in August 2020 with technical assistance to begin in September 2020. All eligible facilities are encouraged to apply.


NHSC New Site Application Deadline has been extended

The 2020 National Health Service Corps (NHSC) new site application deadline has been extended. Program information and requirements are all outlined in the most recent NHSC Site Reference Guide (PDF). You may wish to pay particular attention to some areas of concern from some of our recent reviews:

  • Have you updated your nondiscrimination statement to include all protected categories? Not sure? Check out the Site Policy Poster (PDF).
  • Is your sliding fee schedule out-of-date? The 2020 guidelines are available.
  • Does your sliding fee policy have conditions beyond proof of family income and family size? Eligibility cannot include other factors such as assets, insurance status, participation in the Health Insurance Marketplace, citizenship, population type, etc.

Apply for NHSC status at HRSA's website

The deadline has also been extended for Provider Relief Fund applications. Eligible Medicaid, CHIP, and dental providers can apply for payments made for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19.


Attention Rural Hospitals

Grant funding is available for Maine's rural hospitals to supplement COVID-19 specimen collection and testing.

Federal Office

Workforce Grand Rounds: Combating Healthcare Provider Burnout in Clinical Settings

As part of its Workforce Grand Rounds webinar series, the Bureau of Health Workforce at the Health Resources and Services Administration will spend 90 minutes on Wednesday, June 17 at 2:00 pm talking about the subject of burnout in clinical settings. Register for the Grand Rounds Webinar at HRSA's website

Other announcements from the Office of Rural Health Policy:Week of June 11, 2020 (PDF)

OSHA Guidelines

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


Now Available: Sentinel Events Newsletter

The latest newsletter prepared by the Sentinel Events Team of the Division of Licensing and Certification is available. Human factors in health care, risks in outpatient care, and Leapfrog ASC survey results are some of the topics covered.


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.

It is time to complete the 2020 census!

As of April 6th, only 36.2% of Mainers have completed the 2020 census. Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and many other health care and community programs as outlined by Robert W. Glover and Kevin Fitzpatrick in the Bangor Daily News depend on a complete count. Please complete the 2020 census today and then encourage your friends, family, staff and others in your community to do so as well.

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.


Certification Program for Primary Care and Dental Tax Credit

The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the tax credit certifications to eligible primary care and dental professionals for tax year 2019. Thank you all for your interest. Unsuccessful applicants: Please note that you may reapply in a subsequent tax year.


Applying for the National Health Service Corps Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program or the Rural Community Loan Repayment Program? Get Your DATA 2000 Waiver

One of the tools to combat the opioid crisis is increasing the number of clinicians who are eligible to provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) services. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides free MAT training and resources, via the Providers Clinical Support System (PCSS)1, for eligible clinicians. After completing MAT training, eligible clinicians can request DATA 2000 waivers to treat opioid dependency with approved buprenorphine products.

Applicants for the NHSC SUD Loan Repayment Program or the Rural Community Loan Repayment Program may receive priority if they have DATA 2000 waivers.

J-1 Visa Waiver Program

Also known as the Conrad State 30 Program, the J-1 Visa Waiver Program helps address shortages of qualified doctors in rural areas. In exchange for a waiver of certain visa restrictions, including the two-year foreign residency requirement, international medical graduates agree to complete their medical training in the United States and practice primary care for at least three years at an eligible site.

All slots are currently filled. The next application cycle will begin on October 1, 2020.

Note to attorneys and future applicants: Updates to the J-1 Visa Waiver application process are likely to be enacted within the next year. Please check for new rules prior to preparing and submitting applications for the 2020 application cycle.


Free Educational Opportunity: 3RNet's 2019 Academy

As National Health Service Corps slots and State Loan Repayment Programs become more competitive, it is more important than ever to learn new strategies to recruit providers and then keep the providers that we have already incentivized to remain.

3RNet's 2019 webinar series, Recruiting for Retention Hierarchy: Building the Foundation, will examine the recruiting process - everything from planning and preparation to sourcing to closing the deal. Without a well defined recruitment process, employers will be hard pressed to succeed in recruitment efforts.

The Maine Rural Health and Primary Care Program is offering this educational opportunity to all working in Maine's rural and underserved facilities at no cost. Register Now!


The Shortage Designation Modernization Project and Auto HPSA Update

The Shortage Designation Project is a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) initiative to modernize current shortage designation processes while maintaining transparency, accountability, and parity. The project is currently in Phase 2, which includes updates to all auto-HPSA facilities of the following types:

  • Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alikes
  • Tribally-Run Clinics
  • Urban Indian Organizations
  • Dual-Funded Tribal Health
  • Federally-Run Indian Health Service Clinics
  • Rural Health Clinics meeting NHSC site requirements

The impact analysis portion of the project is now complete and the portal is ready for use. The Maine Primary Care Office is in the process of analyzing data and initiating supplemental data rescores. Should HRSA accept the documentation that will be submitted, all 47 organizations should receive an additional two points for their mental health designation due to alcohol and substance misuse and approximately 75 percent of organizations should receive an additional point for their dental health designation due to lack of fluoridation. Nearest Sources of Care are currently under review.

Detailed information regarding the project can still be found at the Shortage Modernization Project Website. Please contact the office should you have any questions.


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?

3Rnetis 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.

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.