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University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

N.D. Rural Health Clinic Network Receives Grant

The $100,000 grant will benefit clinics throughout rural North Dakota


By Jena Pierce

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The Center for Rural Health (CRH), at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences, announces the receipt of a new federal grant to strengthen rural communities. The North Dakota Rural Health Clinic Network has received a Rural Health Network Development Planning Program grant to aid the Network in providing support for the rural healthcare facilities. The grant will help support additional training and resources to assist the 55 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) throughout North Dakota over the next year.

The North Dakota RHC Network was established in 2021 through the Center for Rural Health (CRH) at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences. The first year has been spent reaching out to the RHCs, offering technical assistance, providing educational webinars, and building an advisory committee.

Anna Walter

“We found there wasn’t anything currently in place to support the RHCs,” said , project coordinator for the RHC Network. “We saw a need and were able to provide organization, support, and resources.”

The Rural Health Network Development Planning Program grant is funded through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).  The one-year $100,000 grant began on July 1, 2022 and goes through June 30, 2023. It will help the Network to build on the work that has occurred over the past year.

The grant will assist with:

  • Promoting the development of statewide relationships
  • Holding quarterly RHC Network meetings
  • Providing additional technical assistance
  • Developing mentoring plans for clinic managers/administrators
  • Fostering training and sharing RHC-specific information
  • Identifying statewide RHC needs such as financial education, care coordination, chronic care management, compliance, quality, and other related issues as they arise

According to HRSA, the purpose of the competitive Rural Health Network Development Planning Program grant is to promote the development of integrated healthcare networks in order to: achieve efficiencies; expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of basic healthcare services and associated health outcomes; and strengthen the rural healthcare system as a whole.

“We have a lot of good things in the pipeline we are excited about,” said Walter. “This grant is for one year, but this fall we will apply for a three-year grant where we can build in activities and continue the work we have already started to support the RHCs. There was so much great discussion and positive ideas for this Network at our recent strategic planning meeting last month. The RHCs are excited to keep receiving the help we can provide.”

RHC Network participants receive support for Conditions for Certification, quality and performance improvement, and to improve communication and collaboration among healthcare providers to best serve the rural health organizations and their communities.

All 55 RHCs in North Dakota have joined the RHC Network. The model for the Network was based on the structure of the CRH North Dakota Critical Access Hospital (CAH) Quality Network. The CAH Quality Network has been wildly successful and has all 37 CAHs in the state as members.

Funding for the RHC Network is provided by the North Dakota Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Program and the North Dakota State Office of Rural Health (SORH) program. Flex is a federally funded HRSA grant that provides for the creation of rural health networks, promotes regionalization of rural health services, and improves access to hospital and other services for rural residents. 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, with funding provided through the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.

About the Center for Rural Health

Established in 1980 at the University of North Dakota, the Center for Rural Health is one of the nation’s most experienced rural health organizations. It has developed a full complement of programs to assist researchers, educators, policymakers, healthcare providers, and most important, rural residents to address changing rural environments by identifying and researching rural health issues, analyzing health policy, strengthening local capabilities, developing community-based alternatives, and advocating for rural concerns. For more information, visit RuralHealth.und.edu.

About the author

Jena Pierce is communications manager for the Center for Rural Health at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences.