North Dakota State Office of Rural Health receives federal funding

The State Office of Rural Health (SORH) will be able to provide additional support to North Dakota thanks to increased funding from Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP). Annual funding increased to $230,000 this year, allowing for additional services to begin. SORH is a federal-state partnership that helps rural communities build their healthcare services through collaborations and initiatives with a wide range of partners across the state. SORH staff and offices are housed within the Center for Rural Health (CRH) within the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS).

“In rural populations there tends to be lower income, increased rates of uninsured, and higher morbidity and mortality rates,” said Kylie Nissen, director of the North Dakota SORH. “These are things that make living and succeeding more of a challenge. The state office is here to provide resources to our rural communities. A SORH works to improve access to quality healthcare for rural people in a variety of ways. If people aren’t healthy, they are less likely to be able to hold a job, put food on the table, and provide a positive contribution to their community.”

This year SORH received an increase of $50,000. With this extra funding they will provide a COVID-19 funding tracking system for Critical Access Hospitals to help the facilities accurately track the federal and state dollars they receive as a direct result of COVID-19 funding; increase aid to facilities with their implementation plans in response to their community health needs assessment findings; provide additional technical assistance to rural health clinics and public health units; and develop/conduct an APGAR project to work with rural communities with regards to analysis and increasing their readiness to host students/residents

Not all SORHs reside within a university setting, and for North Dakota’s office to be housed within the UND SMHS, there are many benefits that contribute to a strong statewide program.

“We get the buy-in directly,” said Nissen, “through the SMHS facility, staff, and faculty that have expertise in so many different areas that we can tap into, along with research resources. The entire CRH is considered part of the state office, which gives us more capacity to do more work, and have a greater impact across the state.”

There is a stipulation with the SORH dollars from FORHP, they must be matched 3:1. Which means for every dollar, there needs to be $3 given through state funding. North Dakota’s investment in SORH is $690,000, most of which aids in workforce development, helping to recruit and retain medical professionals throughout the state.

Support and services provided by SORH for the state of North Dakota include:

  • Support and contribute to work related to: health facilities, health workforce, and policy;
  • Facilitate the annual Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health;
  • Administer mini grants to communities to host Scrubs Camps around the state and annually hold Scrubs Academy I and Scrubs Academy II;
  • Administer the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Caring Foundation Rural Health Grant Program;
  • Provide grant development assistance to communities working on federal, state, and foundation proposals; and
  • Collaborate with partner health organizations.

For more information on the North Dakota SORH, please contact Kylie Nissen at 701.777.5380 or email:, or visit ND State Office of Rural Health.