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Supporting Rural Health Workforce

Community Training, Education, and Access for Medical Students (Community TEAMS) Act - H.R. 7258

Research shows that medical students receiving education and training in rural and underserved communities are more likely to stay and practice in those areas. The Community TEAMS Act will increase medical school clinical rotations in rural and underserved areas, strengthening the physician workforce pipeline and leading to greater healthcare access in these communities.

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Beneficiary and Family Centered Care - Lunch and Learn

Join us February 28th, 2024 at 12:00 PM CST, for our monthly Rural Health Clinic lunch and learn webinar. This month's guest will be Kia Weaver, Outreach Specialist, with Kepro. 

Kepro is the Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization (BFCC-QIO) for the 29 states. Beneficiaries and families can call Kepro to talk about healthcare-related questions such as whether they are ready for discharge from a hospital, rehabilitation facility, home health agency, or hospice.

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Health for All: A Language Inclusion Webinar Series

Join us for an eight-week webinar series, "Health for All: A Language Inclusion Webinar Series," to discuss varying populations within our rural communities that experience a larger gap in health disparities. This webinar series will be held weekly beginning on February 29th at 11am CST and go through April 25th.

Presentations will include the following: Rural Populations, Family Structure, Age and Ability, Domestic Violence Survivors, Gender and Sexual Orientation, Body Size and Weight, Substance Use Disorder, and Race and Ethnicity. Register for the webinars below, or email [email protected] to register for all.

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American Heart Month: Wear Red Day

February is recognized as American Heart Month, a dedicated period to raise awareness about heart health and encourage individuals to adopt heart-healthy lifestyles. Cardiovascular diseases remain a leading cause of death globally, and American Heart Month serves as an important opportunity to educate the public about the risk factors associated with heart disease and the preventive measures that can be taken. During this month, various organizations, healthcare professionals, and communities come together to promote heart health through events, campaigns, and educational initiatives.

One notable event within American Heart Month is "Wear Red Day," celebrated on the first Friday of February. This day is specifically aimed at raising awareness about heart disease in women. Heart disease is often mistakenly considered a predominantly male issue, but it affects women at alarming rates. Wear Red Day encourages people to wear red clothing to show their support for heart health and to spark conversations about the importance of preventing heart disease in both men and women. The American Heart Association (AHA) is a key supporter of Wear Red Day, providing resources and information to help individuals understand the risks and take steps towards a heart-healthy lifestyle.

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National Cancer Prevention Month

National Cancer Prevention Month, observed every February, is a crucial awareness initiative that underscores the significance of proactive measures in reducing the risk of cancer. This month serves as a platform to educate individuals about lifestyle choices, early detection, and regular screenings that can contribute to preventing various types of cancer. By promoting healthy behaviors such as maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, individuals can significantly lower their risk of developing cancer.

Maintaining one's health is paramount in the fight against cancer. Adopting a nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provides essential vitamins and antioxidants that bolster the body's immune system and help combat the development of cancerous cells. Regular physical activity not only aids in weight management but also contributes to overall well-being, reducing the risk of certain cancers. Additionally, steering clear of tobacco products and moderating alcohol intake are crucial steps in cancer prevention, as these substances are known to be major contributors to various types of cancer.

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Statement on Jellico Regional Hospital

Rural Health Association of Tennessee (RHA) is closely monitoring the situation between Boa Vida Healthcare, Progressive Health, and the City of Jellico concerning the ownership and future of Jellico Community Hospital.

Over the past several months, RHA received numerous requests and statements of concern about Jellico Community Hospital. RHA’s Chief Executive Officer, Jacy Warrell, visited the community, met with local advocates, and has provided several resources aimed to help community leaders gather information and explore various delivery of care options, as well as funding sources that may benefit the community.

Rural Health Association of Tennessee is in full support of the decision made by Jellico City Council. Since Jellico Community Hospital closed and reopened, there are several new federal programs that may work to the community’s advantage, such as the Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) program. Alternatively, or perhaps additionally, the community could establish a 501c3 nonprofit Rural Health Clinic and/or Behavioral Health services that could bring more resources to Jellico. Currently proposals presented to the City of Jellico include a pain management clinic and orthopedics unit.

We will continue to work with the community and interested parties in developing solutions that meet the needs of the community.

2024 Spring Regional Events

Regional events are an opportunity to learn more about our RCORP program. Register for your region to hear more about substance use disorder, mental health, and Rural Health Association program updates. Lunch will be provided to in-person attendees. 

Cost: Free for members | $25 for non-members; a networking lunch will be included.

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National Maternal Health Day: Maternal Health in Rural Areas

Maternal health is a critical aspect of overall well-being, and its significance is particularly pronounced in rural communities. In these areas, access to quality healthcare resources is often limited, posing unique challenges for pregnant women and new mothers. The lack of easily accessible healthcare facilities, skilled professionals, and educational programs can lead to delayed or inadequate prenatal care, increasing the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Addressing maternal health in rural communities is essential for ensuring the health and survival of both mothers and their newborns.

One of the primary reasons maternal health is crucial in rural areas is the vulnerability of pregnant women to complications. Limited access to prenatal care can result in undetected health issues, contributing to a higher incidence of maternal mortality and morbidity. Moreover, the physical distance to healthcare facilities may hinder timely emergency interventions, making it imperative to prioritize maternal health initiatives that bring services closer to rural communities. By improving access to prenatal care and skilled birth attendants, the likelihood of preventing and managing complications increases, positively impacting maternal and infant outcomes.

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Mental Health, Let's Talk About It

Navigating the winter months with mental health disorders can be particularly challenging due to factors such as reduced sunlight, colder temperatures, and the holiday season. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression associated with changes in seasons, often intensifies during winter. To mitigate its effects, individuals can explore light therapy, spending time outdoors during daylight hours, and incorporating light-enhancing activities into their daily routines. Additionally, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is crucial for stabilizing mood and energy levels, as disruptions to sleep patterns can exacerbate symptoms of various mental health disorders.

The winter season can contribute to social isolation, which is especially detrimental to individuals with mental health disorders. Efforts to stay connected with loved ones and engage in social activities, even if they are virtual, can provide a crucial support system. Community involvement and participation in group activities can foster a sense of belonging, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation that often intensify during the winter months.

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Wilma Jean Pippenger Receives Bill Moats Meritorious Service Award

The below is from the Cleveland Daily Banner, December 30, 2023

What is a Maternity Care Desert?

Maternity care deserts pose a significant challenge to rural Tennesseans, where access to comprehensive maternal healthcare services is often limited. In these areas, the shortage of obstetricians, gynecologists, and maternity care facilities creates what are essentially maternity care deserts. Pregnant individuals in rural Tennessee face increased difficulties in finding accessible and timely prenatal care, essential for monitoring the health of both mother and baby throughout pregnancy. The absence of nearby obstetric care providers in these deserts contributes to delayed or inadequate medical attention, leading to potential complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

The impact of maternity care deserts on rural Tennesseans is evident in the higher rates of maternal and infant mortality, as well as adverse birth outcomes. Limited access to proper maternal healthcare services exacerbates existing health disparities, disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations in these regions. Women in rural areas may encounter difficulties in securing transportation to distant healthcare facilities, further hindering their ability to access timely and necessary prenatal care. As a result, the health outcomes for both mothers and infants in rural Tennessee can suffer, underscoring the urgent need for targeted interventions to address these disparities.

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National Flu Vaccine Awareness Month: Vaccine Hesitancy in Rural Areas

Vaccine hesitancy in rural areas often stems from a combination of factors, including distrust in healthcare systems, concerns about vaccine safety, and the influence of tight-knit community networks. National Flu Vaccine Awareness Week provides an opportunity to engage local leaders, community influencers, and healthcare providers in initiating conversations about the importance of vaccination. By fostering open and transparent communication, public health campaigns can work towards dispelling myths and addressing specific concerns that contribute to hesitancy, ultimately building trust and encouraging higher vaccine uptake.

In addition to communication strategies, improving access to flu vaccines in rural areas is crucial. National Flu Vaccine Awareness Week can serve as a catalyst for organizing mobile vaccination clinics, partnering with local pharmacies, and collaborating with community organizations to ensure that vaccines are readily available. By making vaccination convenient and addressing logistical barriers, public health efforts can make significant strides in overcoming hesitancy and increasing flu vaccine coverage in rural communities.

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Recognition of Rural Health Leaders at RHA's 29th Annual Conference

Rural Health of Association of Tennessee celebrated National Rural Health Day on November 16th in Knoxville, Tennessee at our 29th annual conference, "Shining a Light on Rural Health: Advocating for a Brighter Future." The conference was a dynamic and engaging three days of learning from experts in rural health fields across the state, bringing together professionals within the healthcare field. It provided a platform for the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and experiences, fostering growth and collaboration. Attendees were able to benefit from a diverse range of presentations and panel discussions delivered by leaders in Tennessee. Networking opportunities allowed attendees to establish valuable connections, share insights, and explore potential collaborations. 

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National Diabetes Month: Diabetes in Rural Communities

Diabetes presents a growing health challenge in rural areas, shedding light on the importance of increased awareness and targeted interventions. In many rural communities, limited access to healthcare facilities, lower socioeconomic status, and a lack of public awareness compound the difficulties of managing diabetes. Routine health check-ups are often scarce, making early detection and monitoring of diabetes less likely. Risk factors such as poor dietary choices and limited opportunities for physical activity in rural areas can contribute to the higher incidence of diabetes. It is crucial to raise awareness about diabetes in these regions to help individuals understand the disease, its risk factors, and the resources available for prevention and management.

Diabetes awareness in rural areas can have a significant impact on the lives of those affected by the condition. By providing education about diabetes symptoms and risk factors, rural residents can become more proactive in seeking regular check-ups and adopting healthier lifestyles. Increased awareness also encourages healthcare providers to offer diabetes screening and management services in underserved regions, ensuring that rural populations have access to the care they need. Empowering communities with knowledge about diabetes creates a supportive environment for those living with the disease, reducing stigma and fostering understanding among family and friends.

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Big South Fork Medical opens Myrtle Recover Center in Oneida, Tennessee

RHA Staff Deliver Prescription-drug Take-back boxes 

In August, Big South Fork Medical Center, announced the opening of Myrtle Recovery Centers, its alcohol and drug treatment facility at the Oneida .

October 31st, Jessica Rackley, RHA's Rural Community Opioid Response Program (TN-RCORP) Director, and Jacy Warrell, RHA's CEO traveled to Oneida to deliver two prescription drug take-back boxes to be placed at the hospital.

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2023 Membership Voting

The 2023 Membership Voting is open 

Members may login to RHA's Website for details, including:

  • 2024 Board Officers
  • 2024 Board Members (Each candidate's application is available to view on the Member Landing page)
  • Bylaw Changes (summary of proposed changes is on the Member Landing page)
  • 2024 Proposed Advocacy Priorities 

Voting will remain open through November 16th (Rural Health Day) and results will be shared at our Annual Member Meeting on Friday November 17th (end of Annual Conference).

The voting link will also be available in RHA's Conference App.

National Drug Take Back Day

October 28th is recognized as National Drug Take Back Day.

National Drug Take Back Day is a public health initiative provides an opportunity for individuals to dispose of their unused or expired prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs safely. This annual event, organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and local law enforcement agencies, aims to combat the growing issue of prescription drug abuse and its associated health risks. By participating in National Drug Take Back Day, people can ensure that these medications do not end up in the wrong hands, in turn reducing the potential for misuse, addiction, and overdose.

One of the main benefits of National Drug Take Back Day is the environmentally responsible disposal of pharmaceuticals. Flushing medications down the toilet or throwing them in the trash can lead to contamination of water sources and soil. By providing designated collection sites where individuals can drop off their medications, the initiative prevents these substances from polluting the environment. This environmentally friendly approach not only safeguards ecosystems but also protects human health by reducing exposure to harmful chemicals.

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Webinar with Vizient Mark Webb Now Available

If you missed the October 20th webinar with Mark Webb, Principal, you can access the presentation through our Resource Center under RHC Network on our website here

Mark Webb, Principal, with the Facilities and Construction team at Vizient works to educate members about the solutions and value opportunities available to members in the capital and construction areas. As a former member in the C-Suite, he has extensive experience in hospital administration and operations, along with 25+ years in civic, aviation and hospital construction.

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Child Health Month

This October we would like to send a thank you to all our members fighting for a healthier Tennesse for our youth. Child Health Month in Tennessee is a significant annual observance dedicated to raising awareness and advocating for the well-being of children in the state. Throughout the month of October, we ask everyone to join is in promoting a healthier lifestyle and preventive healthcare measures, such as vaccinations, regular check-ups, proper nutrition, and sharing mental health resources to ensure that children in Tennessee are able to have a long healthy life.

During Child Health Month we urge all organizations, healthcare professionals, and community leaders to help shed light on the importance of early intervention and access to quality healthcare for children. Tennessee recognizes that child health is essential not only for the individual well-being of children but also for the future prosperity of the state. This observance serves as a reminder that investing in the health and development of the youngest Tennesseans is crucial for building a brighter and more promising future for the entire community.

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Behavorial Health Safety Net Program

The Behavioral Health Safety Net System in Tennessee, known as BHSN of TN, is a crucial resource for adults aged 18 and older who lack insurance coverage but meet the necessary eligibility criteria. This program offers essential community-based behavioral health services, with the exception of inpatient care, which is not covered. BHSN of TN is effectively administered through contracts with Community Mental Health Agencies statewide.

For individuals seeking to access this safety net assistance, the process involves locating a provider in their area and scheduling an intake appointment. During the appointment, applicants should express their intention to apply for the safety net program. If deemed eligible based on the eligibility requirements outlined below, the agency will provide support in completing the enrollment form. Approved participants must receive Behavioral Health Safety Net services exclusively at the Community Mental Health Agency where they initiated the application process.

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