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2017 Virginia Rural Providers Conference

2017 Virginia Rural Providers Conference
Hosted by the Virginia Rural Health Association
October 25 & 26
South Boston, VA

Welcome to Intersections - our 2017 event!

For over twenty years, the Virginia Rural Health Association has served as "The Voice for Rural Health in Virginia."  Rural Health is DIFFERENT.  Rural Americans face a unique combination of factors that create disparities in health care not found in urban areas. Economic factors, cultural and social differences, educational differences, lack of recognition by legislators and the isolation of living in remote rural areas all conspire to impede rural Americans in their struggle to lead a normal, healthy life.

The Rural Providers Conference of the Virginia Rural Health Association is an occasion to recognize that health in rural areas is not the sole responsibility of doctors and nurses.  Education, economic development, transportation, the built environment, and even social opportunities play a role in the health of individuals and communities.  All aspects of the community are providers or barriers to health.

For the 2017 event we are focusing on finding solutions within our communities.  We know what the problems are - how do we work together to solve them?

Bringing the people who care about rural Virginia together provides an opportunity to discuss how we can ensure the sustainability of rural Virginia through policy, access, economics, education and more. 

Looking for the Rural Health Documentation & Coding Bootcamp?  Click HERE!


Wednesday, October 252017 Virginia Rural Providers Conference

8:00-9:00             Registration, Exhibit Set Up, Continental Breakfast

9:00 – 9:15          Welcome
                                               Senator Frank Ruff

9:15 – 9:30          Opening Remarks
                                                VRHA President Summer Sage          

9:30 - 10:15        Intersections: Finding the Big Picture in Little Communities
                                                Robert P. Pack, PhD, MPH, East Tennessee State University 

10:15 - 10:30      Remarks from Lt. Governor Ralph Northam
                                                Mike Zodun, Eastern Shore Rural Health System, Inc.

10:45 – 12:00      Breakout Sessions

12:00 – 2:00        Awards Luncheon

2:00 – 3:15          Breakout Sessions

3:30 – 4:45          Breakout Sessions

5:30 - 6:30           Poster Presentations and Reception (Berry Hill Resort)

Thursday, October 26

9:30 - 10:00        Why Rural?

10:00 – 11:00      View from the Hill
Maggie Elehwany, JD, National Rural Health Association 

11:00 – 11:30      Diversity and Community Health
                                     Kelly Thomasson, Secretary of the Commonwealth


 About Our Sessions 


Plenary Sessions

Keynote Presentation - Intersections: Finding the Big Picture in Little Communities
          - Robert P. Pack, PhD, MPH, East Tennessee State University

Dr. Pack is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs & Professor of Community and Behavioral Health at East Tennessee State University. He is serving as the Principal Investigator for the ETSU Diversity-promoting Institutions Drug Abuse Research Program (DIDARP): Inter-professional Communication for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention in Appalachia 

Lean more about Dr. Pack here.

View from the Hill
 - Maggie Elehwany, JD is the Government affairs and policy vice president, National Rural Health Association.  Ms. Elehwany will provide an overview of the rural health policy landscape in Washington, DC.


Breakout Sessions

School Health Nursing
 - Erin Cruise, PhD, RN & Maggie Bassett, MPH, MS, RN, Radford University School of Nursing

Healthcare Workforce Pipeline
 - Ward Stevens, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine

Rural Community Infrastructure
 - Patti Kiger, EVMS

Social Determinants of Health
 - Justin Crow, Virginia Department of Health, Office of Health Equity

 - Chris Blankenship, New River Agency on Aging

Integration of Care
  - Joshua Bradley, Psy.D., LCP, Tri-Area Community Health Center

Healthcare Safety Net
 - Carissa South, 211 Virginia

Opioid Epidemic
 - Ke'Shawn Harper, DMAS  (see also info on Waiver Provider trainings)

Student Poster winner
   - Rachel Horn, VCOM

VRHA's High-Risk Patient Education Program
 - Beth O'Connor

Wednesday Evening:  Join us back at the Berry Hill Resort for our student poster presentations and reception.


Registration fees for the full event is $230 for VRHA members and $290 for the general public.

  • For registration, click here.
  • VRHA Student Members are eligible for the student rate of $100 for the full event or $75 for the first day and $30 for the second

Event registration fees include 2018 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.

The Virginia Rural Providers Conference creates unique networking opportunities and a forum to discuss how we can strengthen the healthcare safety net through collaboration, share best practices and best utilize community resources. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Target Audience
The conference is attended by about 150 people, which includes facility executives, academic faculty, clinic staff, government officials, health professions students and more.

Won’t you add your organization to the list?

Download the Sponsor packet for details.

For further information about the conference, sponsorship, or becoming an exhibitor contact:
Beth O’Connor
Executive Director

Lodging and Area Information

The 2017 event will be held at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center
The Prizery
700 Bruce Street
South Boston, VA 24592  

Lodging will be at the Berry Hill Resort.

The resort is nestled amongst a tree-lined forest covering 650 acres in the heart of historic South Boston, Virginia. This former antebellum plantation estate and (now) National Historic Landmark welcomed its first guests to the beautiful Virginia countryside in 1728. Since that time, the mansion has undergone an impeccable restoration process that has elevated it into a world-class destination resort that includes a plethora of modern amenities and services, while retaining both its' architectural and cultural history.

Rooms are set aside at the discounted (government) rate of $89/night (+ tax & fees) for the conference. You must reserve by October 4th to ensure a room at this rate.

Berry Hill Resort is located at:
3105 River Road
South Boston, Virginia 24592
Phone: 434-517-7000

What to see and do?  Where to dine?  Find area information here.

Scholarships - "Why Rural?"

VRHA is inviting students who are in any health or public policy program to submit essays on why they want to serve rural communities.  Five essays will be selected and the authors will receive free conference registration.

The author of the winning essay will have the honor of reading the essay during the Rural Health Providers Conference and will receive 2 complimentary nights at Berry Hill Resort and free conference registration.

Download the scholarship form here.

Completed forms must be e-mailed to on or before September 8.  Winners will be announced on September 15th.

2017 VRHA Awards

All Virginia Rural Health Association members and member organizations are invited to submit nominations for the 2017 Virginia Rural Health Association Awards.  Nominees are not required to be members of the association.  Commitment and service to the advancement of rural health in Virginia may be in the form of direct provision of health care services, governmental or educational advocacy, activities or research that improves the health of communities or populations.

Awards Categories:

Lawmaker of the Year - Lawmaker of the Year is designed to give special recognition to an elected official at any level who has demonstrated support for improving health in rural Virginia.
The Charles Crowder, Jr. Award - 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.
The Best Practices in Rural Health Award - 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 Ken Studer Friend of the Association Award - 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.

Click here to download the nomination form.

Nomination Deadline: September 2, 2017

Awards Presentation: Honorees will be recognized during the Awards Luncheon on October 25th, 2017 at the Virginia Rural Providers Conference in South Boston, Virginia.

You can also read about past honorees.

Poster Presentations - New for 2017: CASH PRIZES!

VRHA is now accepting applications for Poster Presentations from health and public policy students at the conference. A maximum of 15 applications will be approved for display and presentation.


  • First Place: $500
  • Second Place: $250
  • Third Place: $100

Posters will be on display during the reception October 25th from 5:30-6:30.    

The Poster Presentations provide participants with the ideal opportunity to disseminate information to other rural health stakeholders. Poster Presentations may include research projects, case studies, clinical evaluations, case presentations, observations, unusual or uncommon situations and other topics as they relate to rural health.  All types of health professions students are encouraged to submit applications for consideration.  Posters co-authored by professionals are acceptable as long as the student is the lead author and presenter

Submission information and general instructions: 

  • ‚ÄčIncomplete submissions will not be reviewed by the planning committee. 
  • Submission deadline is October 7, 2017. 
  • Presenters may not use posters to market products or services; exhibit space is available for that purpose. 
  • If accepted, presenters must register for the conference.  In addition, no honoraria or travel expense reimbursement will be provided.  Presenters will have the option of registering for a single day instead of the full event.

The presenter is responsible for having the poster printed and bringing a display easel to the event.

Categories & Judging:
Presentations will be reviewed and judged with a Certificate of Excellence issued to the poster with the highest score.  Posters will be judged by the following criteria -

  • Rural relevance (30 points)
  • Presenter – enthusiastic, professional, well-prepared (20 points)
  • Interpretation of data (10 points)
  • Abstract or summary of findings (10 points)
  • Proper reference/citations (10 points)
  • Background & Rationale (10 points)
  • General overview/layout of the poster (10 points)

Click here to submit a poster presentation application.  Membership in VRHA is not required to submit a presentation for consideration.

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:












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