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2012 Virginia Rural Health Action Conference

2012 Virginia Rural Health Action Conference
October 8 & 9
Charlottesville, VA

Welcome to the 2012 Virginia Rural Health Action Conference website!

“You might be rural if…”

It sounds like the set-up for a joke that’s likely to elicit a few groans. But the public health issues facing rural Virginia are no joke.  The 2012 Virginia Health Equity Report estimates that the total costs of health disparities/inequities associated with living in a rural area instead of an urban area in Virginia cost $692 million annually. Rural Virginians tend to die at an earlier age than non-rural residents. Some areas have an average life span up to 19 years below the state average, 59.6 years compared to 78.5 years. Rural areas also tend to have higher poverty rates and lower educational levels than urban Virginia, correlating to having limited health opportunities.

With these facts in mind, the Virginia Public Health Association and the Virginia Rural Health Association are joining together to offer the 2012 Virginia Rural Health Action Conference on October 8 and 9 at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel.  Public health practitioners, concerned citizens, planners, policy makers, advocates and anyone with an interest in the health of rural Virginia will come together to explore the wide-variety of issues having an impact on the public health of rural Virginians and work to develop creative cross-sector solutions  that can be incorporated into an updated State Rural Health Plan.

We want participation from everyone with a stake in the health of rural Virginia. Your input in the Virginia Rural Health Action Conference is highly valued and will help identify the priority items for the new Rural Health Plan.

To prepare for the event, a survey sought input from everyone with a stake in the health of rural Virginia - over 1000 people responded.  All of the input, including the twenty pages of comments, will help the conference participants identify the priority items for the new Rural Health Plan. A summary of the survey results is available here.


2012 Virginia Rural Health Action Conference


Click here to view event photos

Monday, October 8

8:00am – Registration Opens/Exhibits/Continental Breakfast

8:30am – Welcome

8:45am –  You might be rural if…
Wendy Welch, PhD
Executive Director - Southwest Virginia Graduate Medical Education Center & Area Health Education Center of SW Virginia
Author - The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

9:15am –  2012 Virginia Health Equity Report
Michael O. Royster, MD, MPH
Director – VDH Office of Minority Health and Health Equity

9:25am –  Social Determinants of Health
Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H
Director – Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Human Needs
Professor of Family Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University

10:00am – Break/Exhibit Display

10:30 – Creative Problem Solving in the Real World
Chic Thompson, MEd
Batten Fellow – University of Virginia Darden School of Business

11:15pm – Directed Discussions
Bill Sherman
Founding Director - OpenGrounds

12:15pm – Lunch/Exhibit Display

1:30pm – Directed Discussion Two

2:10pm – Directed Discussion Three

2:50pm – Directed Discussion Four

3:30pm – Directed Discussion Five

4:30pm – Exhibitor Reception

6:30pm – Day One Adjourn

Tuesday, October 9

8:30am – Registration Opens/Continental Breakfast

9:00am – Highlights and Trends: A Summary of Day One

9:30am – Ideas Market: Identifying the Priorities
Frank Dukes & Tanya Denckla Cobb – UVA Institute for Environmental Negotiation

10:00am – Ideas to Action: How to Change the World

11:00am – Closing Discussion:  If I Can't Change the World, I Can Change Virginia

12:30pm – Lunch
• VRHA Awards & Annual Meeting

About Our Sessions

The 2012 event will focus on the renewal of the Virginia State Rural Health Plan.  The current Plan - developed in 2008 - has 48 recommendations.  Most of these recommendations have either been met, or have significant progress.  It's time for a new Plan! 

To renew the Plan, the Rural Health Action Conference will set aside the traditional conference format and will instead encourage participants to delve into rural health issues to determine core problems and consider the broad range of individual, interpersonal and community factors that affect health, and focus on health promotion, health care, the social determinants of health and health equity.

The interactive discussion will be facilitated by OpenGrounds.  A part of the University of Virginia, Office of the Vice President for Research, OpenGrounds builds networks to connect diverse partners, inspire those who take risks at the frontiers of their fields and collaborate across boundaries, to create new disruptive ideas that make a real impact in the world.  OpenGrounds will assist the participants to reach across disciplines and backgrounds to share knowledge and inspire creative action and collaboration.

The results of these discussions will be distilled into the new Virginia State Rural Health Plan.  Join us, and be part of developing the future of rural health in Virginia!

Additional Resources:  for more information on our discussion topics, click here.


Conference Rates
Registrations received prior to September 28th:

  • Current VaPHA members: $160
  • Current VRHA members: $160
  • Students: $90
  • Non-members: $210

Registrations received after September 28th:

  • Current VaPHA members: $200
  • Current VRHA members: $200
  • Students: $130
  • Non-members: $250

Single day rates
Schedule only allows you to attend for one day?  We have options for you -

  • Current VaPHA and VRHA members: $95 ($115 after September 28)
  • Students: $55 ($75 after September 28)
  • Non-members: $120 ($140 after September 28)

Click here to register for the event or download the registration form.

All registration fees include 2013 VRHA membership dues.

Sponsor/Exhibitor Information

Take this opportunity to tell our members and guests about your organization by being a part of this event.

Please choose one of the following sponsorship or exhibitor levels and related benefits described on in the Sponsor/Exhibitor brochure, or allow us to customize a sponsorship level for you and your specific interest. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Target Audience
Advocates, concerned citizens, educators, housers, medical personnel, policy makers and planners, public health practitioners, social service organizations, and anyone with an interest in rural health in Virginia.

Conference Partners
The Virginia Public Health Association and the Virginia Rural Health Association have partnered with the following organizations to develop this program:
Virginia Department of Health Office of Minority Health and Health Equity – Division of Primary Care and Rural Health, Commonwealth Public Health Training Center, Eastern Virginia Medical School/Old Dominion University Graduate Program in Public Health, George Mason University Masters of Public Health Program, University of Virginia Masters of Public Health Program, Virginia Tech Public Health Program, OpenGrounds

Won’t you add your organization to the list?

Click here to download the full Sponsor/Exhibitor brochure.

Lodging and Area Information

The 2012 Virginia Rural Health Action Conference will be held at the Omni Charlottesville.

to the historic downtown Pedestrian Mall, the Omni Charlottesville Hotel honors the area’s unique history.

Rooms are set aside at the discounted (government) rate of $115/night (+ tax, fees & parking) for the conference. You must reserve by September 19th to ensure a room at this rate.

To register, call the hotel at 1-800-THE-OMNI (1-800-843-6664) and ask for the VPHA-VRHA Conference rate or register online.

The Omni Charlottesville is located at:
235 West Main Street
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
Phone: (434) 971-5500

The hotel is easy to access from I-64
Click here for directions

You can also visit the hotel's website for additional information.

What to see and do?  Where to dine?  Click here for area information:


A limited number of scholarships are available, through grant funding and sponsorship support, to fund the registration of individuals with an interest in rural health that have limited funds available to attend the program.

Scholarships are for conference registration fees only and recipients are responsible for any travel costs associated with their attendance at the program.

Special consideration will be given to community residents and to applicants who work at smaller organizations, non-profit organizations or organizations with limited professional development budgets as well as students of any health-related discipline.

Persons who wish to apply for a scholarship should submit the application form along with a a brief paragraph stating why attending the 2012 Rural Health Action Conference is important for your personal, community or professional development, and how you will apply this information to issues impacting rural health equity in Virginia. 

Application Deadline:  5pm - September 28

2012 VRHA Award Winners!

From left to right:  James L. Werth, Jr. - Director of the Radford University Psy.D. Program in Counseling Psychology, Jennifer Stroup - Student, Radford University Counseling Psychology PsyD Program, Cassie Ross - Student, UVA Law School Nonprofit Clinic, Teresa Gardner - Health Wagon Executive Director

The Charles Crowder, Jr. Award: Teresa Gardner
This award is given annually by the Virginia Rural Health Association to recognize outstanding individual commitment and service to the advancement of rural health in Virginia.

Her nomination form reads:  Teresa is the type of health care provider that does not do it for the recognition, awards, or anything else in between.  She does it solely for the people of the underserved area of Southwest Virginia. 

She basically works two full-time jobs within the Health Wagon.  She works as Executive Director organizing, applying for grants, meeting deadlines, and attending meetings while still providing the same compassionate health care as a provider that brought her to the Health Wagon eighteen years ago.  It is truly amazing seeing someone juggle that many obstacles on a daily basis and still come out on top at the end of the day.  Teresa is not a self-entitled boss like a lot of upper level management that you come across.  She normally beats most of her employees to work and is the last one to leave most of the time.  She truly leads by example in this organization and without a doubt is the reason the organization is what it is today. 

In Teresa’s ‘spare time’ she coordinates the largest medical outreach in the United States, Wise County Remote Area Medical. Thirteen years ago Teresa and the original founder, Bernadette Kenny, made the trip to Mountain City, TN to meet with the Remote Area Medical Founder, Stan Brock.  The rest has been history.  The Health Wagon and RAM (Remote Area Medical) work in collaboration every year to bring this great event to the underserved area.  Teresa also volunteers her time has a provider at other RAM events around the area during weekends.  

None of the Health Wagon’s expansionary efforts would be possible without the dedicated work of Teresa Gardner.  It is truly an honor to work with such a great woman on a daily basis.  Seeing her hard work each and every day is my primary reason for nominating her for this prestigious award.  She deserves the reward and recognition that she has never asked anyone for.

The Best Practices in Rural Health Award: Radford University Doctor of Psychology Program
This award is given annually by the Virginia Rural Health Association to recognize a program or institution that exemplifies commitment and service to the advancement of rural health in Virginia.

The Radford University PsyD program views rurality as a form of diversity and places emphasis on cultural diversity, social justice and evidence-based practice.  Four courses in the program specifically focus on rurality, and rural issues are incorporated into all of the other courses that the PsyD faculty teach. 

Additionally – students are placed in three different year-long practicum sites, which are mostly rural and/or social justice related.  The program helped the Free Clinic of the New River Valley offer integrated care by placing students in the medical clinics and provide specialty mental health services offered by the Free Clinic. 

The Radford PsyD program has been active in trying to expand the mental health resources available in Southwestern Virginia.  The program helped the Mental Health Association of the New River Valley expand the number of sites where services are offered and helped to open a new office in the Town of Pulaski, where the program provides all staffing and counseling needed to keep the office operational.

Radford University collaborated with East Tennessee State University to implement a Rural Health Workforce Development grant designed to create training opportunities for students.  This “grow your own” philosophy allowed Stone Mountain Health Services to hire two psychology interns and two social work interns this spring as well as the first graduate of the PsyD program.

Faculty members from the program have worked to assure that the revision of the psychology licensure regulations have included rural perspectives.  Changes have been made to ensure that an undue burden in geography or disability do not limit the residents’ access to qualified supervisors.   Additionally, the regulations now allow pre-internship practicum hours to count toward licensure.  This change has significant implications for rural areas because it streamlines the licensure process.  Previously it was difficult for rural sites to hire doctoral-level psychology graduates because they lacked the psychologists in place to service as supervisors.

The program is becoming a model for training students to be able to work in the new healthcare environment and is producing psychologists who are committed to working in rural areas.

Friend of the Association:  UVA Law School Nonprofit Clinic
This award is given to recognize a program, institution or individual that has advocated for or aided the Association in support of the Association's mission.

The UVA Law School Nonprofit Clinic has been a great friend to VRHA – and many other nonprofits around Virginia.  In 2012, the VRHA Board of Directors realized that the VRHA bylaws had not undergone a full legal review and update since 2004.  Not surprisingly, many state and federal regulations have changed since that time.

Not having the expertise to conduct such a review themselves, the VRHA Board turned to the UVA Law School for help.  The Nonprofit Clinic reviewed the bylaws and provided the board of directors with recommendations for changing internal management of the organization and the development of new bylaws.  With approval from the board, the Nonprofit Clinic drafted new bylaws for VRHA, which will be presented to the VRHA membership for discussion at the annual meeting.

The Nonprofit Clinic will also perform a “legal health check” for VRHA.   A UVA Law School student will work the entire academic year to advise and work directly with VRHA on matters such as policy development, ongoing legal compliance and good corporate governance.  While this overhaul would normally cost thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars, the UVA Law School Nonprofit Clinic provides these services at no cost to VRHA and other nonprofit organizations in Virginia.

Click here to read about previous winners.

Thanks to our Sponsors!

The conference would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors. When you attend the event, please extend your gratitude to:


Office of Minority Health and Health Equity






Friend of Rural Health




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