The health of Vermonters depends, in part, upon access to basic health care services — especially in the many rural areas of our state. This makes the job of assuring an adequate supply of health care professionals, facilities and health insurance a basic function of public health.
Vermont's State Office of Rural Health and Primary Care (SORH/PC) manages five federal grants and several state appropriations to increase access to health care by supporting and expanding the health care system, strengthening the health care workforce and fostering collaborations to improve access, quality, efficiency and sustainability.
The SORH/PC works with and supports rural hospitals, safety net clinics, health care providers and other stakeholders to improve access to primary care, dental services and mental health care for all Vermonters, especially the uninsured, under-served and those living far from larger medical centers.
We manage sub-grants to health care organizations and networks in Vermont to:
1) support the operation of a network of ten free clinics around the state, that provide / refer and coordinate medical and dental care for uninsured Vermont adults, as well as enroll these folks in health insurance and other state programs;
2) expand services of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to medically under-served areas, by funding feasibility studies, financial analysis, organizational development and other activities as needed for new or expanding organizations;
3) support quality improvement efforts at four rural and eight critical access hospitals (CAHs) to reduce preventable re-admissions and other common issues;
4) provide educational loan repayment to physicians, dentists, nurses, nurse practicitioners and physician assistants as incentives for recruitment and retention to healthcare facilities in rural and under-served areas;
5) collect, analyze and report data on provider service locations and full-time equivalency (FTEs) to determine Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) for primary care, dental health and mental health that might qualify for federal and state recruitment incentives;
6) process applications for J-1 visa waivers for foreign medical graduates who have been recruited to work in under-served areas;