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New RHA of TN Staff!

Director of Membership - West Tennessee

Allica Austin achieved an MBA from Liberty University and BS from the University of Tennessee at Martin. She was recruited from her undergraduate internship to help launch employee health initiatives at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where she moved into roles focused on prevention and reducing chronic diseases. She has articles published focusing on implementing clinical care algorithms and research involving exercise physiology and reduction of long-term cancer side-effects. After hurricane Harvey she returned back to Tennessee to assist in the care if her father and continues to pursue her desire to assist in the reduction of disease in her home state of Tennessee.  Allica will be the project director for the Delta Apprenticeship grant and will support members in West Tennessee.

Events and Education Manager

Dorshonda has a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration degree from Kaplan University and is a graduate of TCAT Jackson's Licensed Practical Nurse program. She has a professional background in nursing and teaching on the collegiate level. Her most recent experience includes working as a nurse at West Tennessee Healthcare, Jackson Madison County School System and a professor at Jackson State Community College. Dorshonda will be lead staff for RHA of TNs online events, regional meetings, and annual conference.

Thank You for Supporting 340B Drug Discount Program!

Rural Health Association of Tennessee would like to thank the below Tennessee Representatives for supporting the 340B Drug Discount program by signing a letter to Acting Secretary Cochran of the Department of Health and Human Services. This bi-partisan effort asks HHS to take immediate action to ensure that drug manufacturers are prohibited from imposing unilateral changes to the program in direct conflict with congressional intent and decades of written guidance. Read the full letter here.

  • Representative Tim Burchett
  • Representative Steve Cohen
  • Representative Jim Cooper
  • Representative Chuck Fleischmann
  • Representative Diana Harshbarger
  • Representative David Kustoff

TennCare EHR Incentive News

With the arrival of March, now only one month remains for providers to attest for Program Year 2020. This issue again includes guidance providers can use to attest for Program Year 2020 and look ahead to attesting for 2021 later this year. Read here.

Should you have questions about what you read in this newsletter, or have suggestions for the newsletter, please write to us at [email protected].

2021 Federal Advocacy Agenda

February 9-11th, 2021 a delegation of 19 Rural Health Association of Tennessee Members and affiliates attended National Rural Health Association's Policy Institute. We welcome you to contact your federal legislators to share your experience and insight explaining the need to fund rural programs, providers, and facilities. See below for resources. If you would like to participate in upcoming state advocacy events, please email [email protected] 

National Rural Health Association 2021 Policy Document

Click here to send a message and/or call your congress persons. Below is a simple guide for how to talk to your Representative and Senators on some of the key points in the above document.

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Customizable Communications Toolkit for Rural Hospitals and Clinics

The National Rural Health Resource Center has release a toolkit full of temples to educate your patients, build trust and confidence in your rural hospital and clinic and communicate services. Need help? Contact [email protected]

NRHRC Toolkit Users Guide

Explore NRHRCs Online Resources

Updated the List of Reportable Codes for Drug Overdose Reporting (DOR)

Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) has Updated the List of Reportable Codes for Drug Overdose Reporting (DOR)

Effective January 3rd 2021, the Drug Overdose Reporting (DOR) List of Reportable Diagnosis codes was updated to include new Opioid-related ICD-10-CM codes. This update reflected changes made as a result of the ICD-10-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee for federal fiscal year 2021. The T40.4X[1-4] coding structure for synthetic narcotics of unintentional, intentional self-harm, assault, and undetermined intent were revised. The changes allow for more specific reporting of drug overdoses involving synthetic opioids for initial and subsequent encounters. In particular, it allows the TDH to identify drug overdoses involving fentanyl, which has become more important to understand as overdoses involving fentanyl have increased rapidly in the last five years. Please ensure that your hospital is including the new codes when reporting drug overdoses to TDH. For more information and to obtain the full List of Reportable Diagnosis codes see the TDH Drug Overdose Reporting website. The new ICD-10-CM codes are indicated with an asterisk.

Now more than ever, it is important for Tennessee’s hospitals to report to TDH. We want to remind hospitals of their responsibility to continue reporting the reportable condition, Drug Overdose, to TDH weekly. Hospitals are required to report drug overdoses to TDH, regardless of the age of the patient experiencing the overdose or the intent, which include prescription or illicit, intentional, undetermined, or accidental drug overdoses. Full guidance on the Reportable Diseases Rules and Regulations can be found here. If the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting your organization’s normal operations and therefore affecting your ability to report to DOR weekly, please notify the DOR team at [email protected]. Please include DOR Reporting Impact in the subject line of the email.

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Press Release: Rural Health Association of Tennessee Announces New Board Members

Rural Health Association of Tennessee announced the election results for two new additions to the board of directors: Alicia Calloway, Chief Operating Officer of OPYS Physician Services and Barry Cooper, Executive Director of JACOA.

“Rural Health Association of Tennessee is honored to welcome both Ms. Calloway and Mr. Cooper to our board,” says RHA of TN Executive Director Jacy Warrell. “Their expertise will help guide our work in a continuously changing environment.”

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2021 Tennessee Reportable Disease List

The 2021 List of Reportable Diseases in Tennessee, effective January 1, 2021, can be found at the following link: Included are the list of reportable diseases and guidance for healthcare providers and laboratories regarding reporting requirements. Important changes in 2021 include:

Healthcare Providers/Facilities Only:

  • Polio is now immediately notifiable.
  • Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children is now explicitly reportable.
  • On the 2020 Commissioner’s Letter we notified you that reporting antibiotic use in acute care hospitals through the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) will be required beginning in January 1, 2021.  This requirement has now been delayed until January 1, 2022 due to the burden of the COVID pandemic on healthcare facilities.  As this will require some planning, we are advising hospitals of this in advance to allow adequate preparation. [For more information:]

 Laboratories Only:

  • Colistin-resistant gram-negative bacteria are not explicitly reportable but are now contained under the general heading of pan-unsusceptible organisms.
  • Please see Detailed Laboratory Guidance for additional changes.

Interview: Rural Health Leadership Radio

Executive Director, Jacy Warrell, talks with Dr. Bill Auxier, host of Rural Health Leadership Radio. Subscribe to Rural Health Leadership Radio at

Volunteer Tennessee New Tools

Volunteer Tennessee, the state commission on national and community service, has established the Tennessee Serves Network to engage more Tennesseans in volunteer service. The network is a statewide collaboration of volunteer centers dedicated to bringing people and community together through an online volunteer portal.

And, now your organization can engage potential volunteers through this statewide system for free! Please click here for more information and learn how to register for an account. You can also contact Shannon Duke, Volunteerism & Training Manager at 615-253-8585 or [email protected] for more information.

Handout: Tennessee Serves for Agencies

2020 Photo Contest Winners

Thank you to everyone who submitted and voted on photos at our annual conference last November! Below are the winners of the Color and Black & White photo categories, as well as the 1st and 2nd runner up.

Black & White Photo Winner
"Linville Gorge" by Heather Newman, ETSU Rural Primary Care Track

Color Photo Winner
"Cy Bend" by Kelsey Minix, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

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Interview: Reach Radio

Executive Director, Jacy Warrell, has a conversation with Fran Ayalasomayajula of Reach Radio. Jacy discusses RHA's services to the community, challenges especially in education about COVID, developing community trust with key stakeholders, dealing with cultural differences and different demographics, coping styles for counties with no rural hospitals, and many more.

Rural Tennessee starting to receive COVID-19 Vaccine

Interview with Executive Director, Jacy Warrell, 12/17/20

Grant Announcement

Rural Health Association of Tennessee will receive a grant from Delta Regional Authority to launch "pre-apprenticeship" program in West Tennessee.

 Click here to read the full announcement.

Interview: Nashville Public Television 11-22-20

COVID-19, Beyond Numbers | NPT Reports

Executive Director, Jacy Warrell, speaks with Nashville Public Television on COVID and rural health disparities.

Workforce Development, Health Equity, and Rural Tennessee

Assistant Commissioner Kenyatta Lovett, PhD, Workforce Services, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Workforce Development, Health, and Rural Tennessee

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2020 Poster Contest Winners

View video announcing poster contest winners.

Overall Winners:

  • Overall Winner: Poster P-3:  Incorporating Point of Care Ultrasound Curriculum in a New Internal Medicine Residency Program  Tuong Vi Do, DO, Shyam Ganti, MD, Jayaramakrishna Depa, MD.   Appalachian Regional Healthcare Internal Medicine Residency Program, Harlan and Whitesburg, Kentucky
  • Overall Runner Up:  Poster U-1:  Correctional Career Pathways Replication Program:   New Perspectives in the COVID-19 Era.  Joshua Fortmann, MPH Candidate, ETSU College of Public Health.  Ginny Kidwell, Executive Director, Tennessee Institute of Public Health  
  • 3rd Overall:  Poster P-2:  Adherence to Chronic Opioid Guidelines: A CDC Opioid Collaboration Project  ETSU  Angela Harless, DNP, FNP-C  Patti Vanhook, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, FAAN 

  • 4th Overall (Tie):   Poster F-1:  Determining the Area of Highest Risk Environment for Opioid Overdose In Washington County, Tn. A Novel Methodology as a Proof of Concept    Sam Pettyjohn, DrPH, MPH (1,2,3) Hadii Mamudu, PhD. (1) Joel Hillhouse, PhD. (1) Rob Pack PhD. (1,3). East Tennessee State University, College of Public Health; 2. ETSU Center for Rural Health Research; 3. ETSU Addiction Science Center.   
  • 4th Overall (Tie):   Poster D-11:  Follow-Up: Provision of Buprenorphine to Pregnant Women by For-Profit Clinics in an Appalachian City Hannah D Holt, Dr. Martin E Olsen MD, ETSU QCOM Obstetrics and Gynecology Department


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Commissioner Piercey Talks COVID Testing and Vaccine


COVID-19 – Navigating a Global Pandemic in Tennessee

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Leading Through Crisis – Lessons from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center


Leading Through Crisis – Lessons from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight CenterJohnny Stephenson, BSE, Director, Office of Strategic Analysis & Communications, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

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Governor Lee Declares November 19th Rural Health Day

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