Rural Health and Primary Care

What's New and Featured Resources

thank you
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)



These educational sessions are developed by NRHA Partners to provide rural health care professionals opportunities to learn new techniques and best practices from industry experts.

The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act

Tuesday, June 23 2:00 - 3:00pm

The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act is bipartisan legislation that would temporarily allow international physicians and nurses access to unused immigrant visas. This act would cut wait times to permanently work in the United States down by years, if not decades. The act will be voted on in the next few weeks and has already gained the support of 26 Senators and 26 Representatives. The visas will be on a first come, first serve basis. Register for this webinar to learn more. Chris Musillo, an immigration attorney, who co-authored the bill joins the discussion with Maggie Elehwany of NRHA Government Affairs and Policy, Ruth Katz from LeadingAge, and Tanya Freedman of Connetics USA. This is a prerecorded webinar with live Q&A with Tanya Freedman.

Rethink Nurse Residency

Wednesday, June 24 3:00 - 4:00 pm

Do you want to decrease nursing turnover? Do your new graduate nurses struggle with resilience? Are you wanting to improve quality competence at the bedside? Despite growing evidence demonstrating the benefits of transition support for new graduates, implementation of programs continues to be challenging with cost being a major barrier. Utilization of apprenticeships to prepare new graduate nurses for their role has been identified as a new funding source. Register for this webinar and learn how the Iowa Online Nurse Residency Program is using a registered apprenticeship delivery option to provide comprehensive resources and training to support employers and their new graduates nurses throughout the transition to practice period.

Swing Bed and The Best Way to Improve Your Outcomes: Transitional Care developed by Mayo Clinic & Select Medical

Wednesday, June 25, 2020 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Allevant, a joint venture between Mayo Clinic and Select Medical, helps Critical Access Hospitals thrive by developing post-acute Transitional Care programs using available Swing Beds. Focused on helping patients transition to their highest level of independence, Transitional Care is a program that involves the patient and family, makes available the full resources of the Critical Access Hospital and focuses on measured outcomes and evidence-based processes to ensure patients get the best care possible. The Transitional Care Program is centered on teamwork, communication, and collaboration. Register now to participate.


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.


Resources from the New England Rural Health Association

Webinar: Rural Primary Care Tools and Resources for Managing Suicidal Ideation During COVID-19

Jun 2, 2020 2:00pm

Mental health professionals are predicting an increase in suicidal ideation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Part of the explanation has been tied to financial stress, role balance, and isolation. Individuals in rural communities may be experiencing these risks for suicidal ideations more acutely given rural people already disproportionately struggle with isolation and poverty. In rural communities primary care providers are an integral member of the mental health workforce and can play a pivotal role in identifying and managing suicidal ideation in their patients.

Resource: You are Not Alone: Resources on How to Stay Connected While Isolated

As a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are required to be less social in order to avoid infecting themselves and others with the virus. Although the implementation of “physical distancing” - avoiding close contact with other individuals in order to avoid catching the virus yourself and passing it along - is necessary to prevent the current pandemic from worsening, the collapse in social contact is going to negatively affect those populations most vulnerable to isolation and loneliness. There are still ways to maintain social contact and get support.


NHSC New Site Application Cycle Now Open

The 2020 National Health Service Corps (NHSC) New Site Application cycle is now open through Tuesday, July 21 at 11:59 p.m. 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

Webinar: Rural Health and COVID-19

On Tuesday, May 12th at 4:00pm, federal leaders from the U.S. Departments of Health & Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) will come together in a 60-minute presentation to highlight tools and resources specific to rural communities.

Other announcements from the Office of Rural Health Policy: Week of May 7, 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)


    National Health Service Corps is accepting applications for its Scholarship Program now through May 15, 2020

    The National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program awards scholarships to students pursuing eligible primary care health professions training.

    In return, scholars commit to provide primary care health services in Health Professional Shortage Areas.

    For current NHSC participants: COVID-19 Announcement

    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.


    Nurse Corps is accepting applications for its Scholarship Program now through May 8, 2020

    Eligible nursing students can apply to the Nurse Corps Scholarship Program. If accepted, your tuition, fees, and other educational costs are paid. In return, you work at an eligible facility with a critical shortage of nurses upon graduation.

    For current Nurse Corps participants: COVID-19 Announcement

    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.


    Funding Opportunity: Opioid-Impacted Family Support Program

    The purpose of the program is to support training programs that expand the number of peer support specialists and other behavioral health related paraprofessionals who are trained to work in integrated, interprofessional teams in providing services to children whose parents are impacted by OUD and other SUD, and their family members who are in guardianship roles. Submission due date is April 13, 2020.


    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.

    Federal Office

    HRSA Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

    The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will make approximately 79 awards from a total investment of $48.2 million. The program funds eligible academic institutions that train health profession students. The institutions then make scholarships available to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have financial need. Eligible applicants are accredited schools of allopathic and osteopathic medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, podiatric medicine, optometry, veterinary medicine, public health, chiropractic, and allied health; schools offering a graduate program in behavioral and mental health practice; and programs for physician assistant training. Students should contact their financial aid office to find out if their school participates.

    Other announcements from the Office of Rural Health Policy:Week of January 9, 2020 (PDF)


    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.


    National Rural Health Day

    Thank you to all who came to the Rural Health and Primary Care Program's NRHD event at the Hall of Flags to thank all the providers, administrators and support personnel who have committed themselves to providing care to the rural and underserved residents of Maine, celebrate the successes and bring attention to the work that still needs to be done. A big thank you also goes out to Commissioner Lambrew for speaking and congratulations go out again to our awardees:Kris Doody, RN, CEO; The Maine AHEC Network and Teresa Alley, RDH.

    Today is not too early to be thinking about what you can do to celebrate National Rural Health Day 2020.

    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.

    DHHS News