HRSA Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) team members Megan Meacham, Allison Hutchings, and Sarah O'Donnell were named the winner of the 2023 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals People's Choice Award by the Partnership for Public Service. This team established the HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), which has helped millions of people in rural communities across the country receive opioid use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.
In July 2023, HRSA team members won the 2023 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals People's Choice Award, HRSA hosted stakeholders interested in Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Modernization, HRSA welcomed Rural Communities Opioid Response Program grantees, and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Becerra highlighted the HHS Health Workforce Initiative and its support for HRSA's health care workforce programs.
Recent HRSA Highlights
HRSA Team Wins 2023 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals People's Choice Award
"Megan, Allison, Sarah, and the entire HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Team represent the best of government service and—like all of our work at HRSA—they are driving change by helping communities get the health care services and supports they need," said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson.
HRSA's Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Hosts Hundreds of Opioid Response Program Grantees
HRSA's Federal Office of Rural Health Policy welcomed Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) grantees to the RCORP Reverse Site Visit (RSV) event held July 11 – 12 in Washington, DC. Attendees came from 47 states, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and represented the variety of organizations funded through RCORP, including health centers, hospitals, local health departments, and other community-based organizations. Nearly 1,000 participants representing RCORP award recipients and other rural partners attended.
RCORP has helped millions of people in rural communities across the country receive opioid use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery support services. The program has reached approximately 1,800 rural counties in 47 states and 2 U.S. territories since 2018. As the RCORP initiative has grown over the past five years, this was the first RCORP grantee RSV for many attendees, and even the first visit to Washington, DC, for quite a few individuals in the room.
Throughout the RSV, RCORP grantees heard from HRSA and HHS leadership. HRSA Administrator Johnson told the crowd that "we're so incredibly grateful to you all and for your work. Throughout the pandemic and beyond, you fought to save lives in your communities, and you continued to come to us and tell us what you needed to ensure that work could continue...At HRSA, we're all about making sure that we're meeting the moment and reaching our shared goals, which we couldn't do without you."
The RSV also allowed the RCORP grantees to share their success stories so that others could bring home ideas to their communities and replicate best practices. RCORP grantees had the opportunity to attend breakout sessions addressing topics such as promoting substance use disorder recovery by addressing stigma, and the impact of social determinants of health on community engagement in rural communities, among others. Overall, this Reverse Site Visit was an opportunity for grantees to network and make connections with other individuals passionate about addressing substance use disorder while celebrating five years of RCORP.
HRSA Hosts Stakeholders Interested in Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Modernization
On July 21, HRSA's Health Systems Bureau welcomed more than 300 small and large businesses, non-profits, academic institutions, and advocates, including patient representatives, to HRSA during an Industry Day to discuss the next competitive solicitation for the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). The OPTN develops, implements, and evaluates organ donation, procurement, allocation, and transplantation policies, and addresses issues of concern in the transplant community to ensure that the more than 100,000 patients on the national transplant waiting list receive the lifesaving or life-enhancing transplant they need in a safe and timely manner. The Industry Day event was an important step in HRSA's OPTN Modernization Initiative, an effort to strengthen accountability and transparency in the organ donation and transplantation system.
Recently, Congress showed bipartisan support for modernization of the OPTN through passage of the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act. "The Health Resources and Services Administration shares Congress' goal of making the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) work better for the more than 100,000 people on the waiting list for organs. Individuals on the waiting list, organ donors, and their families deserve an OPTN governed by an independent, representative board and supported by best-in-class technology, processes, policy, and people. As HRSA announced in March, through our OPTN Modernization Initiative, we are leaning in and taking action to make this a reality." Read the full statement from HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson following the passage of the Act.
At Industry Day, stakeholders engaged in discussions in efforts to improve the upcoming OPTN Transition solicitation, with a focus on strategies to ensure effective multivendor coordination, encourage better research and data, and improve technology and operations.
"Through this collaborative effort, we aim to foster competition, spur innovation, and propel the field of organ transplantation forward. By leveraging a diverse array of perspectives and expertise, the OPTN will be better positioned to overcome challenges, seize opportunities, and improve the system performance—ultimately, and most importantly, saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals, " said Associate Administrator Suma Nair.
HRSA Chief Dental Officer Dr. Adam Barefoot Named One of the Most Influential People in Dentistry
Dr. Adam Barefoot, HRSA's Chief Dental Officer, was recognized as one of the 32 most influential people in dentistry. Dr. Barefoot, as part of the HRSA Office of Special Health Initiatives, works to help coordinate oral health initiatives across Offices and Bureaus, and identify opportunities for collaboration for cross-cutting, agency-level efforts. Dr. Barefoot recently led HRSA's effort to launch A Healthy Mouth for Every Body, a national oral health literacy campaign to improve awareness through a variety of publicly available resources.
HHS Health Workforce Initiative Supports HRSA's Efforts to Strengthen Nation's Health Workforce
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra highlighted the recently launched HHS Health Workforce Initiative co-chaired by HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson during an event on July 6 in Cleveland, Ohio. The goal of the HHS Health Workforce Initiative is to support, strengthen, and grow the health workforce by leveraging programs across HHS, including through HRSA's National Health Service Corps and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program. These programs support the recruitment and development of clinicians to deliver community-based care in rural and underserved communities through loan repayment, scholarships, and residency training. Funding for both programs expires at the end of September and the President's Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposes to extend and expand them.
"The key to expanding access to high-quality health care is a well-trained and well-supported health workforce," said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. "At the Health Resources and Services Administration, we are committed to continuing to grow the critical mentoring, training, financial and mental health, and well-being supports that make it possible for people to choose and remain in health profession careers. Our work to fund health professions scholarships, loan repayment, stipends, faculty recruitment, and development programs is essential to building the next generation of the health workforce. We are delighted to work together with our colleagues across the Department to support the HHS Health Workforce Initiative."
News From the Regions
HRSA Regional Administrator Presents at the National Governors Association's Healthcare Workforce Learning Collaborative in Chicago, Illinois
On July 27, HRSA Regional Administrator Commander Sharyl Trail (Region 5 - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) presented on HRSA's health workforce programs and initiatives in the Midwest at the National Governors Association's (NGA) Healthcare Workforce Learning Collaborative Central Regional Workshop in Chicago, Illinois. She talked with the state project teams about how they can work with HRSA as they develop strategies for building the health care workforce in their states. This event was supported by HRSA's National Organizations of State and Local Officials cooperative agreement and is part of a series of NGA Healthcare Workforce Learning Collaborative meetings this summer.
HRSA Hosts Regional Grants Workshops
HRSA's Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (IEA) hosted four Grants 101 workshops in July. In partnership with HRSA's Office of Federal Assistance Management, HRSA staff shared information about the federal grant application process, HRSA funding opportunities, and how to apply for HRSA funding. More than 450 attendees joined these workshops, including representatives from community-based organizations and tribes.
HRSA Joins Congresswoman Matsui's Health Workforce Roundtable in Sacramento, California
In support of expanding HRSA's reach to community colleges, HRSA Public Health Analyst Sara Minnich joined a panel during Congresswoman Doris Matsui's (CA-07) recent health workforce roundtable meeting in Sacramento, California. The event brought together community college and health systems leaders to brainstorm solutions to California's health workforce shortages and gaps. Minnich presented on open workforce funding opportunities at HRSA, specifically opportunities for which community colleges are eligible to apply, and emphasized HRSA's commitment to strengthening the health workforce through Bureau of Health Workforce programs and funding resources.