- EOP: Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access
- HHS Awards Over $101 Million to Combat the Opioid Crisis
- Research Brief: Rural Areas Have Higher Individual Health Insurance Premiums and Fewer Plan Choices
- 'Like a Horror Movie': A Small Border Hospital Battles the Coronavirus
- Trump Administration Proposes to Expand Telehealth Benefits Permanently for Medicare Beneficiaries Beyond the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and Advances Access to Care in Rural Areas
- President Trump Signs Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access
- Using Pharmacists to Provide Care in Rural Areas
- Rural Counties Playing Catch-up with 2020 Census Response
- FCC Extends 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Priority Window
- HHS Extends Application Deadline for Medicaid Providers and Plans to Reopen Portal to Certain Medicare Providers
- Rural and Community Hospitals – Disappearing Before Our Eyes
- Helping America's "Forgotten Places" Amid a Pandemic
- Study Examines Telehealth, Rural Disparities in Pandemic
- Research Brief: Rural Nurse Practitioners Work with More Autonomy than Urban Nurse Practitioners
- Native Americans Feel Devastated by the Virus Yet Overlooked in the Data
The Flex Monitoring Team’s latest briefing paper is a report on our evaluation of projects implemented under Flex Program Area 5: Integration of Innovative Health Care, which is a new program area in the current funding cycle.
We describe the initiatives of seven states in the areas of telehealth, care coordination, and quality improvement, and discuss their implementation and their early results. We also examine the role and impact of Program Area 5 in the Flex Program, and highlight key lessons learned from this first round of implementation.
Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an expanded version of its tool that tracks rates of opioid prescribing over time and across regions to help inform prevention and treatment efforts. For the first time since the Opioid Prescribing Mapping Tool launched in 2015, the tool allows geographic comparisons of Medicare Part D opioid prescribing rates for urban and rural communities. See the Learning Events section below for a CMS Rural Health Open Door Forum, taking place today, that will explain what’s new for rural stakeholders.
By Beth Blevins
Human trafficking doesn’t just happen in big cities in the United States—it happens in rural areas as well. Lisa Davis, Director of the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH), is working to bring more attention to this issue.
Davis said her interest in human trafficking came unexpectedly, at a presentation given at a Pennsylvania Critical Access Hospital Consortium meeting in November 2017. It was unclear if the topic resonated with the hospital leadership in the audience, she said. “But hospital CEOs came up to me after the meeting and told me they never knew that human trafficking was an issue in rural Pennsylvania or was something they should think about.”
Davis added, “It was clear that their facilities needed to be prepared to identify potential victims and to have systems in place to refer them for the services they would need.”
The administrators then asked if PORH could develop training programs for them. “PORH staff made a deliberate choice to train rural providers on the threat of human trafficking,” Davis said. “We know that we can be a resource for rural hospitals and other providers.”
Since the beginning of 2018, PORH has worked to address the issue in rural Pennsylvania. As a first step, a statewide committee of government, academic, community, and hospital representatives was organized. In November 2018, the group launched the Rural Human Trafficking Initiative with an introductory webinar targeting small rural hospitals, community-based organizations, and others interested in serving potential victims.
Since then, Davis said, “We continue to keep the hospitals informed—we’ve gotten a lot of interest from them.”
Davis also is reaching beyond Pennsylvania to raise awareness of rural human trafficking in other states. She gave a presentation in October 2018 at the Annual Meeting of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “It was the first time anyone had talked about that topic at NOSORH,” Davis said.
“I wanted to have NOSORH begin to think about how State Offices of Rural Health (SORHs) could address human trafficking with the Critical Access Hospitals, Rural Health Clinics, and Federally Qualified Health Clinics with which they work,” she said.
This summer, PORH and its partners will host a summit on rural human trafficking (June 26-27) in State College, Pennsylvania. “We are beginning to put in place some of the training programs that the hospitals can implement to identify point persons in their facilities, and the programs and connections that they need to address human trafficking,” Davis said.
Davis observed, “Human trafficking is often thought of as sexual exploitation but it’s also labor exploitation, which can occur essentially anywhere: in restaurants, domestic service, agricultural production, and more.”
Human trafficking is of special concern in Pennsylvania, Davis said, “because we are a state with two main cities and a number of interstate systems that traverse rural areas. With lots of travel routes into, out of, and through the state, it’s much easier to transport victims from one place to another.” According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were 127 cases of human trafficking in Pennsylvania in 2018, with the majority of those cases sex trafficking.
As PORH staff became more informed about human trafficking, Davis said, they found a large network of individuals and organizations that have been focusing on the issue for a long time.
“We’ve made excellent contacts,” she said. “We’ve connected with Villanova University’s Commercial Sexual Exploitation Institute. We’ve been learning about coordinated efforts between the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to address human trafficking. And we’re working with the Region III offices of HHS and HRSA, which have an intergovernmental task force focused on human trafficking.”
However, she noted, “PORH is still very early in the learning stage and is committed to becoming a trusted resource for rural health care providers.”
Davis concluded, “Every story is heartbreaking and if we can make a difference in even one life, this effort will be well worth it.”
If you see someone who you think might be a human trafficking victim, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 (text to: 233733).
Reprinted with permission from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH).