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HRSA eNews September 3, 2020

A Message from the Administrator

HRSA Administrator Thomas Engels

One of the side effects of COVID-19 has been a rise in the use of and need for telehealth.

Recent advancements in telehealth mean our clinicians no longer have to choose between providing medical care and social distancing. When patients can get health care through telehealth, and doctors can provide it, we protect our communities and ourselves.

Last year, 43% of health centers provided services via telehealth. This year, In the midst of the pandemic, more than 90% of health centers that responded to the weekly COVID-19 survey indicated that they were providing services via telehealth.

To further increase telehealth capabilities in response to COVID-19, HRSA has awarded $46.5 million across our programs. With these funds, organizations will be able to maintain primary care services when clinics and medical facilities are not available.This is especially valuable for COVID-19 positive, quarantined, elderly, and other vulnerable people.

Additionally, HRSA played a critical role in the collaborative launch of, which provides information about the latest federal efforts to support and promote telehealth services, with helpful resources for both clinicians and patients. 

You can now find health care providers that offer telehealth by using the new telehealth filter on our Find a Health Center website

Thank you,
Tom Engels

HHS Releases Rural Action Plan

rural scene - sunrise over a field

On Monday, August 3, President Trump signed an executive order requesting that the Department of Health and Human Services produce a report on existing and upcoming efforts to improve rural healthcare. Today, HHS released the Rural Action Plan, the first HHS-wide assessment of rural healthcare efforts in more than 18 years and the product of HHS’s Rural Task Force, a group of experts and leaders across the department first put together by Secretary Azar in 2019.

This action plan provides a roadmap for HHS to strengthen departmental coordination to better serve the millions of Americans who live in rural communities across the United States. Eighteen HHS agencies and offices took part in developing the plan, which includes 71 new or expanded activities for FY 2020 and beyond. Efforts that will be undertaken in FY 2020 include nine new rural-focused administrative or regulatory actions, three new rural-focused technical assistance efforts, 14 new rural research efforts, and five new rural program efforts. These efforts build on 94 new rural-focused projects the HHS Rural Task Force identified as having launched over the past three years.

Read the release.

Trump Administration Announces Provider Relief Fund Application for Assisted Living Facilities

photo of a nurse helping a patient

September 1 - Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is announcing assisted living facilities (ALFs) may now apply for funding under the Provider Relief Fund Phase 2 General Distribution allocation. This announcement bolsters the Trump administration’s commitment to support health care providers in addressing both the economic harm and additional expenses caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).This funding was made possible through the bipartisan CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.

“HHS is committed to ensuring America’s healthcare providers have what they need to protect their patients and continue providing care through the pandemic,“ said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “By expanding the Provider Relief Fund to assisted living facilities, we are supporting more frontline providers and helping to protect the nearly 1 million vulnerable older Americans in their care.”

Read the release.

HHS Awards $117 Million to Support Health Center Quality Improvement

HRSA Health Center Quality Improvement Awards Badges

August 25 - Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced over $117 million in quality improvement awards to 1,318 health centers across all U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia. HRSA-funded health centers will use these funds to further strengthen quality improvement activities and expand quality primary health care service delivery.

“These quality improvement awards support health centers across the country in delivering care to nearly 30 million people, providing a convenient source of quality care that has grown even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “These awards help ensure that all patients who visit a HRSA-funded health center continue to receive the highest quality of care, including access to COVID-19 testing and treatment.”

Read the release.

New Disciplines Added to the NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program

Photo of a health care worker with the HRSA National Health Service Corps logo

We’ve opened this year’s 2021 National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Students to Service (S2S) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) application cycle with new disciplines. Final-year nurse practitioner (NP) and certified nurse midwife (CNM) students are now also eligible. These students, along with current medical (MD/DO) and dental (DDS/DMD) students in their final year of school can apply for awards of up to $120,000 in exchange for a three-year commitment providing primary care services at NHSC-approved sites in high-need underserved areas. 

Review the 2021 Application and Program Guidance (PDF - 644 KB) for more information on how to apply. The NHSC S2S LRP application cycle closes on November 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Living at Home in Rural America

Improving Accessibility for Older Adults and People with a Disability

photo of an elderly couple

HHS, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Agriculture have released a joint bulletin (PDF - 283 KB) describing federal resources available to improve health and housing outcomes for older adults and those with disabilities in rural America.

The bulletin supports the HHS Rural Health Task Force, an HHS-wide effort to improve health care and access for rural America. Read the full announcement.

HRSA was part of the HHS team that worked on the bulletin with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Administration for Community Living, and the CDC. 

HRSA Releases Study on Rural and Urban Older Populations

patient talking with a doctor and a nurse at a health center

A new study HRSA Exit Disclaimer found that rural populations are older, on average, than urban populations. Across the U.S., people 85 and older make up 1.9 percent of the population. In rural counties, they make up 2.4 percent of the population. 

Researchers studied rural-urban older adults based on four different domains: demographics, socioeconomic characteristics, health care access and use, and health characteristics.

The study revealed that the proportion of older adults is increasing more quickly in rural communities due to declining birth rates and migration patterns among younger adults.

Given that the likelihood of living alone increases with age HRSA Exit Disclaimer (PDF – 1 MB), research in this area is vital to ensure people have appropriate support and resources. 

The study was released by the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center, which is funded by HRSA.

HRSA’s National Survey of Children’s Health Highlighted

photo of four children

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) recently highlighted the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) with a post on its ASTHOExperts HRSA Exit Disclaimer blog by Dr. Reem Ghandour, Director of the Division of Epidemiology in MCHB’s Office of Epidemiology and Research, and the NSCH Director. The post highlights how NSCH data can inform critical policy and program planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation processes conducted by state and territorial health officials.

The annual survey includes questions on a wide range of factors that influence children’s health—from the prevalence and impact of special health care needs, to health care quality and access, to adverse childhood experiences. It is the only source of both national- and state-level data on several key measures of infant, child, and adolescent health and development. The next set of NSCH data will be available in October.

Learn more about the National Survey of Children’s Health.

Webinar: End of the HIV Epidemic

Lessons from New York State and New York City

ending the hiv epidemic

HRSA’s Office of Regional Operations (ORO) Region 2 (New York) will host a webinar "End of the HIV Epidemic: Lessons from New York State and New York City" on September 16, from Noon to 1 p.m. EDT. The webinar will include presentations from ORO, New York State AIDS Institute, and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 

Register here HRSA Exit Disclaimer.

HRSA Publishes Special Collection of Articles from Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) Social and Digital Media Initiative

photo of someone holding their phone with likes and loves coming off of it

This month, HRSA released a collection of manuscripts in the September 2020 issue of Health Promotion Practice. The collection highlights models of care and outcomes from an initiative that used innovative social media methods to link and retain hard-to-reach youth and young adults in HIV primary care and supportive services.

HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) Program “Use of Social Media to Improve Engagement, Retention, and Health Outcomes along the HIV Care Continuum” initiative funded demonstration projects in 10 cities throughout the country from fiscal year 2015-2019. The journal features eight peer-reviewed papers that show significant promise using tailored, mobile technology-based platforms to improve HIV-related care and treatment to reach young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) and transgender women. 

Access the Special Collection.

HHS Launches the AHEAD Dashboard

stock photo of four young adults

Last month, HHS launched AHEAD. America’s HIV Epidemic Analysis Dashboard (AHEAD) is a data visualization tool that displays jurisdictional, state, and national data on the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE) initiative six indicators:

  • Incidence,
  • Knowledge of status,
  • Diagnoses,
  • Linkage to HIV medical care,
  • Viral suppression, and
  • PrEP coverage.

AHEAD produces easily consumable graphics and tables to help inform national and local decision-making. Using this data, we can work towards meeting the goals of the EHE initiative: reduce the number of new HIV transmission in the U.S. by 90 percent by 2030.

Learn more at

The Rise of Primary Care Transformation

map of the us with a stethoscope lying on top of it

Through HRSA’s cooperative agreement with National Organizations of State and Local Officials (NOSLO), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) published a brief HRSA Exit Disclaimer on the roles state primary care offices (PCOs) have in addressing primary care transformation. Through transformational practices like primary care integration, workforce development, and partnership opportunities, PCOs can increase access to care and improve health outcomes for states.

Read the brief HRSA Exit Disclaimer.

Date Last Reviewed:  September 2020

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