Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Occupancy Rates in Rural and Urban Hospitals: Value and Limitations in Use as a Measure of Surge Capacity

March 25, 2020

As policymakers deal with the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the hospital infrastructure, understanding the differences in occupancy rates between rural and urban hospitals may help state and local officials in their planning for dealing with surge demand. Historically, rural hospitals have reported lower occupancy rates than urban hospitals and more licensed than staffed beds. This may represent surge capacity for state and local officials to consider in responding to this crisis. The purpose of this brief is to describe variations in hospital occupancy rates nationally and by state, provide additional data for state and local officials, and highlight challenges in identifying surge capacity. Continue reading.

FCC Waives Rural Health Care and E-Rate Program Gift Rules to Promote Connectivity for Hospitals and Students During Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2020—The Federal Communications Commission today
announced important changes to the Rural Health Care (RHC) and E-Rate programs that will
make it easier for broadband providers to support telehealth and remote learning efforts during
the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau has waived
the gift rules until September 30, 2020 to enable service providers to offer, and RHC and ERate program participants to solicit and accept, improved connections or additional equipment
for telemedicine or remote learning during the coronavirus outbreak.

Read more

Join us October 15, 2020 for the Appalachian Health Leadership Forum

Investing in the Health of Appalachia

Whether you serve on the local subsidiary board of a health system, a board of a local health department, or the board of a community health center, critical access hospital or rural hospital, the Forum is for you. Health care and public health boards and leadership are beginning to work collaboratively with other sectors in their communities to address social determinants of health to create a culture of health and unleash economic prosperity in their communities. This is the next step beyond the “population” health work you are currently doing to improve the health outcomes of the patients you serve to focus on the health of your community which impacts the health of all who live in the communities you serve.

More information here

Seeking Applicants for Community Facilities Program


 The Community Facilities program which can be utilized by various sectors in rural communities.  In a nutshell, the Community Facilities Program provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas under 20,000 population. The loan rate is now 2.75% (subject to change) and would be fixed for the life of the loanTerms can be up to 40 years for acquisition or renovation of real estate and useful life if equipment purchase. Please know we DO NOT REQUIRE DAVIS BACON PREVAILING WAGES.

Below is a brief outline of our process and explanation of documents needed:

  1. Pre-qualification process – Please know we qualify you and your project before funds are committed.  Please know, FY 2020 funding is expected Spring of 2020.

Until funds are committed, please do not take any action on any part of the project.

  1. Equipment: Do not order equipment or sign sales agreements without first receiving an obligation from USDA.
  2. Construction/Renovation: The applicant and/or lender must NOT take any actions, such as initiation of construction, renovation or earth-disturbing activities during this period of pre-application or application with USDA.
  3. Grant requests–    Once it is determined an applicant is eligible for grant funding ( service area MHI under $48,247) all applications are considered loan only first and grant is not guaranteed for any applicant.  The applicant will need to go through the application process to be determined if any grant funds can be applied to the project.  Grant funding is limited and highly competitive.   Typically, grants are awarded for equipment projects, capped up to $50,000-$100,000, and are designed to help a project cash flow.  Grant funding is favorable if combined with our direct loan.

USDA Rural Development CF – Disaster Assistance flyer

Rural Emergency Medical Services Integration Guide

Rural Emergency Medical Services Integration Guide is a guide for rural EMS considering collaboration and integration with other organizations. This document is a practical guide for ambulance services (agencies) to use in their pursuit of sustaining effective and efficient delivery of patient care and developing into an integrated system with other agencies. Integration is intended to provide and sustain improved patient care by capitalizing on efficiencies. It will provide insights into various means, which have been used by agencies within the industry to promote integration between agencies to the benefit of the agencies, the staff, and, most importantly, to the patients.

HHS Issues Strategy to Reduce EHR Regulatory Burden

HHS Issues Strategy to Reduce EHR Regulatory Burden. As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Patients over Paperwork initiative, the Department on Friday, February 21, issued the Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs. The report describes recommendations and next steps to reduce burden related to EHRs and describes sources of electronic health record (EHR)-related burden, referencing stakeholder feedback including challenges relevant to small and rural hospitals.