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Indiana State Office of Rural Health Programs

State Office of Rural Health (SORH)

The State Offices of Rural Health (SORH) Program is a 3:1 matching grant program that began in 1991 and has accomplished the creation of state offices in all 50 states. Each office's mission is to help their individual rural communities build health care delivery systems. The SORH Program provides an institutional framework that links communities with State and Federal resources to help develop long-term solutions to rural health problems.  
The five core functions of the SORH program are to:
  • Serve as a clearinghouse of information and innovative approaches to rural health services delivery. 
  • Coordinate state activities related to rural health in order to avoid duplication of efforts and resources.
  • Identify Federal, State, and nongovernmental rural health programs and provide technical assistance to public and private, nonprofit entities serving rural populations.
  • Strengthen Federal, State, and partnerships in rural health.
  • Promote recruitment and retention of a competent health care workforce.
The Indiana State Office of Rural Health supports the Critical Access Hospital Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Program and the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP). 
The State offices created the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health to ensure that the states' perspectives on rural health were recognized nationally.
The mission of the Indiana State Office of Rural Health is to enhance the growth of public health services, funding sources, and education opportunities for every Indiana rural resident. The Indiana SORH is located in Indiana State Department of Health’s (ISDH) Division of Primary Care, Chronic Disease and Rural Health.  
State Office of Rural Health Manager:
Joyce Fillenwarth
(317) 233-7734
Office of Community and Rural Affairs  
Valiant Health Quality Solutions 

Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Program

The Flex Program was established from the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-33) to assist rural hospitals and improve access to care through Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation. The Flex funding initially provided funding to State Offices of Rural Health for designation of CAHs in rural communities. With the majority of CAHs having been converted, the Flex Program now assists CAHs with quality and performance improvement activities, stabilizing hospital finances, and integrating emergency medical services (EMS) into health care systems.

The Flex Program focuses on three core areas: 

  • Support for Quality Improvement in CAHs.  
  • Support for Operational and Financial Improvement in CAHs. 
  • Support for Health System Development and Community Engagement, including integrating EMS in regional and local systems of care. 

The Direction of Flex in Indiana for 2016-2018
The primary goal of the Indiana Flex Program is to support the 35 Indiana Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and other rural providers with information and opportunities to measurably improve service accessibility, quality, financial stability, and system development. Since the 2011 Flex grant, CAHs participating in and benefiting from the Flex Program initiatives are receiving services and resources that would otherwise be unavailable. These advantages include: 

  1. Technical assistance from Indiana’s Quality Improvement Organization on data reporting. 
  2. Technical assistance from Indiana’s Quality Improvement Organization on reducing readmissions of patients with diagnoses of heart failure or pneumonia. 
  3. Education programs through the Indiana Rural Health Association tailored to CAH leadership staff for the purposes of improving finances, 31operations, or quality. 
  4. Lean Healthcare Training offered through Purdue Healthcare Advisors. 
  5. Support for review of CAH cost reports and preparation of market comparisons for the purposes of financial improvement. 
  6. Funding for a Lunch and Learn series through Indiana Rural Health Association to provide education to CAH staff and reduce the burden of travel. 
  7. Community Health Needs Assessment technical assistance to meet the requirements of the Indiana Revenue Service.

Flex Grant Coordinator:
David Conrad
(317) 234-2885

Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program (SHIP)

The purpose of the SHIP is to help small rural hospitals do any or all of the following: pay for costs related to implementation of prospective payment systems (PPS), comply with provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and reduce medical errors and support quality improvement.  The SHIP Grant Program was first authorized by the Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999 of the Social Security Act. 
Eligible hospitals apply for this grant program, through the Indiana State Office of Rural Health (SORH). Indiana SORH receives funding based on the number of eligible hospitals that apply.  The SORH acts as a direct pass through and distributes the funding through one contract to the Indiana Hospital Association.  This pooling of resources and partnership with IHA creates the Indiana SHIP Hospital Network and ensures that the projects offered to the hospitals create meaningful impact in a collaborative learning atmosphere. The projects being offered to hospitals in the network fall into the following categories:  

  • Value Based Purchasing (such as improving data collection activities in order to facilitate reporting to Hospital Compare) 
  • Accountable Care Organizations (such as activities that support quality improvement including, reduction of medical errors and education and training in data collection, reporting, and benchmarking) 
  • Payment Bundling (building accountability across the continuum of care) 

SHIP Grant Coordinator:
Joyce Fillenwarth
(317) 233-7734


Workforce Recruitment and Retention

Grant Opportunities

Partner Associations