DHHS → MECDC → Rural Health & Primary Care → About Us
Promoting access to quality health care for citizens living in all of Maine’s rural and underserved areas.
- 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; and
- Reduce geographic, financial, transportation and other barriers that prevent access to health care services.
What We Do
To fulfill our mission and to serve health care providers and consumers of Maine who live and work in rural areas we:
- Administer the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility and Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grants to support small rural hospitals;
- Provide technical assistance to health care providers, stakeholders and health care facilities including Critical Access Hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers and Look-Alikes (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics;
- Provide educational opportunities for health care professionals;
- Identify geographic areas and populations that are medically underserved and in need of additional health care professionals or health care services and recommend those areas for federal designation;
- Administer a number of workforce programs including the State Loan Repayment Program, the Rural Medical Access Program, the Primary Care Tax Credit Program and the J-1 Visa Waiver Program for internationally trained physicians;
- Administer 3RNet recruitment and retention resource;
- Promote National Health Service Corps and provide assistance for those wishing to apply;
- Convene conferences and participate in work groups that are addressing rural health issues;
- Network with associations and initiate partnerships to implement initatives that improve health care services in rural and underserved areas; and
- Curate a library of rural health related resources.
- Staff the Oral Health Program and conduct the School Oral Health Program
Collaboration is essential to address the rural health in Maine. We work with our colleagues in state government and with likeminded stakeholders across Maine
- Maine Bureau of Insurance
The RHPCP, in collaboration with the State Bureau of Insurance, administers the Rural Medical Access Program. This program provides financial incentives, in the form of reimbursement of insurance premiums, to ensure the availability of doctors who provide prenatal care and deliver babies in rural and underserved communities.
- Maine Revenue Services
The RHPCP, in collaboration with Maine Revenue Services, administers the Primary Care Tax Credit Certification Program. The purposes of the Tax Credit Program is to provide an incentive to recruit and retain primary care professionals in areas of Maine with an identified shortage of primary health care professionals. Up to five eligible primary care professionals are certified annually by The Program to receive an income tax credit. Eligible primary care professionals must have outstanding student loans and make a commitment to practice full time for five years in an underserved area of Maine. During the last legislative session, legislators saw the need and passed a law increasing the number of available slots to 10 professionals.
- Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Some of the communities hit hardest by the opioid epidemic are in rural areas. Unfortunately, these are the same exact areas that lack public health services and infrastructure. This leaves many Mainers facing a number of barriers in accessing opioid treatment including: a lack of clinics, a shortage of providers, lack of transportation and stigmatization. It is often difficult to convince those addicted to opioids and other drugs to obtain treatment. Therefore, it is necessary to remove any and all barriers that might exist so that they receive the vital treatment they desperately need. The Program and the Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services are seeking opportunities to collaborate and looking for ways to obtain resources and undertake the effort necessary to remove the barriers Mainers living in rural Maine face.
- Maine DHHS, Division of Licensing and Certification
In Maine, the Rural Health Clinic program presents an opportunity for enhancing access to health care in underserved areas. After The Program confirms eligibility and providing the appropriate forms and resources, our partners in Licensing and Certification provide support by performing financial analysis, review and inspection of the clinics.
- Maine DHHS, Sentinel Events
Sentinel events are unexpected events that result in death or serious harm to a patient while in the care of a medical facility. In Maine, reportable events are handled by the Sentinel Events Team. The Sentinel Events team assists the The Program by working with our Critical Access Hospitals and licensed personnel in rural facilities to educate and provide feedback for improved processes. The Sentinel Events team also partners with us to conduct no and low-cost training to medical personnel on a variety of health care related topics.
- Maine Primary Care Association and Maine Hospital Association
The Maine Primary Care Association strengthens and supports Maine’s Community Health Centers through education, training and expertise in health care policy, quality and innovation. Maine Hospital Association supports its member hospitals by providing educational services, resources and advocacy. The RHPCP and the Associations coordinate activities, share data and lend expertise in order to maximize the impact of our respective organizations for the benefit of all Mainers, especially those residing in rural and underserved areas. Past projects have targeted telehealth services and health care for rural veterans. Upcoming projects will focus on providing education and resources regarding the recruitment and retention of providers and avoidance of provider burn out.
- Maine Area Health Education Centers
RHPCP staff participates in the Area Health Education Center Committee. The Committee provides guidance and support for the network to abate health workforce shortages in rural and underserved areas of the state by providing pipeline programs to: engage students in health career exploration, clinical training programs in rural and underserved areas and continuing education programs to support practice, reduce professional isolation, disseminate best practices, improve quality of health care and reduce health disparities.
- Maine Health Workforce Forum
The Maine Health Workforce Forum was established by the legislature and convened by This Program in 2007. Since that time, The Forum has sought to ensure a sufficient supply of qualified health care providers in Maine by establishing plans, holding regular meetings, publishing reports, sharing information, coordinating resources, collecting and analyzing data and providing guidance and recommendation to policy makers. In addition to Program staff, Forum membership includes employers, medical professionals, associations, licensing boards and educational institutions.
- Northeast Telehealth Resource Center
Telehealth can be one solution to increase access, integration of care and learning opportunities for providers in rural areas. Program staff attends meetings and provides support to promote the use of telemedicine and to provide education, to include a webinar series, telehealth summit and case-based Project Echo sessions.