Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Small Rural Hospital Blueprint for Performance Excellence and Value Published

With the assistance of the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) and Stratis Health, the National Rural Health Resource Center’s Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC) is excited to share their new Small Rural Hospital Blueprint for Performance Excellence and Value.

For nearly a decade, the U.S. health care industry has been undergoing profound change in payment and service delivery; and growing increasingly complex. The past year has layered several additional opportunities and challenges including the need for pandemic and emergency preparedness, massive growth in the acceptance and use of telehealth, spotlighting of social needs as a core component of health, and the systemic and persistent disparities facing people of color. Small rural hospitals face the challenge of being successful in fee-for-service payment systems while preparing for and entering into value-based payment arrangements, at a time of financial stress and uncertainty.

The Blueprint is intended to be a tool to assist rural hospital leaders in implementing a comprehensive systems approach to achieving organizational excellence. It contains an outline of the key inter-linked components of the Baldrige Framework, along with critical success factors relevant to small rural hospitals. Challenges and strategies are also addressed.

Census Bureau Announces Changes for 2020 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates

Census Bureau plans to release experimental estimates developed from 2020 ACS 1-year data.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that it will not release its standard 1-year estimates from the 2020 American Community Survey (ACS) because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on data collection. The Census Bureau will release experimental estimates developed from 2020 ACS 1-year data.

The standard 2020 ACS 1-year estimates do not meet the Census Bureau’s Statistical Data Quality Standards designed to ensure the utility, objectivity and integrity of the statistical information. Unlike the ACS, the 2020 Census was able to postpone their Nonresponse Followup to a time when they could carry out the full operation, limiting the impact of the pandemic on data quality in ways the ACS could not.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed numerous challenges to collecting ACS data in 2020, as described in our recent Adapting the American Community Survey Amid COVID-19 blog. As a result, the ACS collected only two-thirds of the responses it usually collects in a survey year and the people who did respond to the survey had significantly different social, economic and housing characteristics from those who did not. This is called “nonresponse bias.”

Specifically, Census Bureau staff found high nonresponse from people with lower income, lower educational attainment, and who were less likely to own their home. Nonresponse bias is a natural part of sample surveys, and often statisticians can adjust for nonresponse bias by giving more weight to responses from underrepresented groups. However, Census Bureau staff found that standard nonresponse adjustments to the ACS 1-year estimates could not fully address the differences in a way that meets Census Bureau quality standards.

Read more.

Biden-Harris Administration Provides $121 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds to Support Local Community-Based Efforts to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations in Underserved Communities

As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden-Harris Administration is providing $121 million to support the work of trusted community-based efforts to increase vaccinations in underserved communities. These awards will go to community-based organizations across the country that are working in their communities to build vaccine confidence, share factual information about vaccines, and answer people’s questions about getting vaccinated. This investment is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to support and empower local trusted voices within communities to help encourage vaccination, protect more people, and save lives. This funding was made available by the American Rescue Plan and is being distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

These awards, in addition to $125 million awarded last month, establish, expand and sustain community-based efforts to mobilize community outreach workers, community health workers, patient navigators, social support specialists and others to increase vaccinations.

“We understand the important role trusted messengers in local communities play to help people make informed health care decisions, including whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Today’s investments are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to strengthen equity and support organizations that focus on underserved communities as they work to increase vaccinations and keep people safe and healthy.”

Award recipients will engage with regional and local partners, including faith-based organizations, regional and local health departments, health centers and other community-based health providers, and minority-serving institutions, to reach underserved and high-risk communities to help bolster COVID-19 vaccination rates. For example, this funding will be used to support partnerships between academic and community-based organizations like churches and local fire departments to improve COVID-19 health literacy and vaccination rates in rural counties. Likewise, funding will support African American, Latino, and Tribal partnerships that engage clergy, churchgoers, adolescents, and others with trusted information about vaccines and work within their communities to get more people vaccinated.

“This community-based COVID-19 vaccine outreach program will make it possible to reach people in vulnerable and medically underserved communities and help reduce disparities in COVID-19 vaccination rates,” said Acting HRSA Administrator Diana Espinosa.

For a list of awards recipients, see

Contact with any questions.

Learn more about how HRSA is addressing COVID-19 and health equity.

New Guide Helps with CHW Recruiting and Training

A collaboration of three organizations has published the new resource “Community Health Worker/Peer Workforce: Recruiting and Hiring for SDOH Screening.” MHP Salud, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council – all of which are funded through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) – drew upon lessons learned from health centers that have successfully hired, trained, integrated, and retained Community Health Workers (CHWs) and peers with lived experience. The guide provides best practices developed through interviews and research, focused on the CHW and peer role in social determinants of health (SDOH) screening and addressing related disparities, like the impacts of COVID-19.

Download the guide.

Nurse Practitioners’ Evolving Roles, Job Satisfaction

As the nurse practitioner (NP) workforce continues to grow and evolve, focus on burnout prevention and workplace satisfaction is imperative to continue to recruit and retain them. The Association of Clinicians for the Underserved (ACU) and the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium (NNCC) developed a white paper based on focus groups of NPs and health center administrators to better understand the expanding and evolving role of NPs at health centers. The groups also explored the drivers of burnout and factors that contribute to provider satisfaction. ACU and NNCC produced a webinar series on this topic in 2021.

See the page of resources at the STAR2 Center or access the archived webinar series.

Pennsylvania Lead-Free Promise Project Toolkit

The Lead-Free Promise Project has developed a toolkit for primary care offices in Pennsylvania for a child with an elevated blood lead level along with additional resources and information about the Pennsylvania Lead Free Promise Project and the coalition. The toolkit offers resources on:

  • Getting free home lead inspections for patients with Medicaid and CHIP (and how to assist families with private coverage)
  • Connecting families with low incomes to the 22 free remediation programs across the state (and how to assist families who have higher incomes and don’t qualify)
  • Accessing the care management staff at all the Medicaid and CHIP plans in the state (names, phone numbers, and emails)
  • Accessing the local county health department or the state DOH nurses to assist with care management
  •  Accessing Early Intervention, WIC, and other resources

National Immunization Awareness Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month—the perfect time to highlight collective efforts to protect the health of all our nation’s children. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) invites you to join their @HRSAgov social media campaign – #WellChildWednesdays – to encourage families to get their children’s vaccines and well-child visits. Each Wednesday in August, join them by liking, retweeting, and sharing @HRSAgov Twitter and Facebook messages with the hashtag #WellChildWednesdays, or craft your own message with this hashtag.

New Study Places U.S. at Bottom of Health System Rankings

The U.S. health system trails far behind health systems in 10 peer countries when it comes to affordability, administrative efficiency, equity and health care outcomes, according to the Commonwealth Fund’s latest international rankings of high-income countries. Unique in measuring and comparing patient and clinician experiences across nations, Mirror, Mirror 2021 shows that in the U.S., an individual’s chance of getting good health care depends to a large extent on income — more so than in any other wealthy country. The U.S., which spends the most per person on health care, has ranked last in every edition of the report since 2004. And the U.S. has fallen even further behind on certain measures, especially health outcomes linked to primary care access and equity in care delivery. Read the report to get the complete health system rankings and discover what the U.S. could learn from other nations to improve health care for all Americans.

Rental Assistance Available to Help Renters and Landlords

The federal moratorium on evictions that expired at the end of last week has now been extended to October 3 in counties with “substantial and high levels” of virus transmission, covering areas where 90 percent of the U.S. population lives. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has published a Rental Assistance Finder to help renters and landlords avoid eviction. It can help them understand the resources available to help navigate various financial hardships related to the pandemic. Please help get the word out to your patients. CFPB has promotional materials (like flyers) and sample social media messages/graphics you can easily use.