The Sustaining and Increasing Access to Care in Rural Communities Learning Collaborative, hosted by Capital Link and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), was concluded in Spring 2022 and explored community needs, growth planning, and financing options for health centers serving rural communities. Through a series of four 90-minute interactive webinars, this Learning Collaborative addresses challenges and opportunities FQHCs face in communities experiencing hospital distress and closure; examine the impact of telehealth on care delivery; and address financial capacity, sustainability, and financing options for FQHCs seeking to expand their impact in rural America. We plan to offer this Collaborative again in early 2023.
Session 1: Lay of the Land for Rural FQHCs
March 9, 2022; 1-2:30 pm EST
This session will review basic data on health centers in rural America, including the shifting market, the rural/urban split, patient characteristics (via UDS mapper), and definitions of rural vs. highly rural/frontier. The session will highlight current and emerging federal initiatives and funding opportunities at HRSA, USDA, FCC, and SBA; notable findings of Capital Link’s recent report on Financial and Operational Trends of FQHCs serving rural America; and the landscape of available resources, including those housed on the Rural Health Hub (a FORHP-funded clearinghouse managed by University of North Dakota). We will also facilitate a group discussion on the challenges participants are facing in their rural communities.
Session 2: FQHC Roles and Opportunities in Connection with Rural Hospital Financial Challenges
April 6, 2022; 1-2:30 pm EST
This session will provide a context for considering how FQHCs can play a critical role in evolving health systems in rural communities. We will focus on best practices, strategies, and lessons learned and discuss a recent Capital Link case study of a rurally-located health center’s experience related to responding to a hospital closure.
Session 3: Enhancing Rural Health Access through Telehealth
May 4, 2022, 1-2:30 pm EST
This session will review challenges and opportunities related to telehealth in rural areas. It will provide fresh status update on broadband (USDA or FCC) access, as well as CMS and state reimbursement and flexibilities. We will consider NACHC’s State Affairs Telehealth State Guide as a resource and review other available telehealth resources. During the session, we will also provide examples of innovative ways health centers are utilizing telehealth and virtual engagement with patients and conduct a group discussion on participants’ experiences with telehealth thus far.
Session 4: Growth Planning & Capital Resources for Health Centers Serving Rural Communities
June 8, 2022, 1-2:30 pm EST
This session will pull together aspects of the three prior sessions to provide perspectives on planning and financing health center growth in rural communities. Aggregated financial and operational data of LC participants will be presented and discussed. We will offer key capital funding information relevant for rural FQHCs, including USDA Community Facilities Program, NMTC and the HRSA Loan Guarantee Program—highlighting examples of health centers that have obtaining these types of capital funding.
Presenters of the four webinars will include content experts from both the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) and Capital Link as well as other industry professionals.