Primary Care and Rural Health, Office of

Mission

The Office of Primary Care and Rural Health (OPCRH) focuses on increasing access to high-quality, comprehensive, coordinated, culturally appropriate care for underserved Rhode Islanders through needs assessment, promotion of the health care safety net, workforce development, collaboration with health system stakeholders, and community capacity-building. The Primary Care Office is responsible for assessing primary care, psychiatric, and oral health care capacities in the state, delineating geographic and specialty specific shortages, seeking and maintaining federal shortage designations, and developing plans to address those shortages. Similarly, the State Office of Rural Health grant strengthens rural/non-metro health care delivery systems. The OPCRH is the primary state contact for the National Health Service Corps and works with state and federal partners to strengthen the recruitment and retention of qualified health professionals serving low-income, uninsured, and under insured populations. Also, the OPCRH staffs the Primary Care Physician Advisory Committee (PCPAC), which provides recommendations to the Department of Health on medical and policy matters impacting the quality and distribution of primary care services statewide.

2012 Accomplishments and Milestones

  • Awarded 2 mini-grants to organizations serving non-metro communities to support community assessment and strategic planning around improving rural health systems, with a focus on enhancing medical homes and maternal and child health services.
  • Updated RIís Health Provider Shortage Area designation process. (more)

Key Focus Areas

Health Professional Shortage Area

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) define Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) as ďa geographic area, population group, or health care facility that has been designated by the Federal government as having a shortage of health professionals.Ē

HPSA designation criteria is primarily determined by an areaís health care provider (primary care provider, dental care provider, and mental health care provider) to population ratio. All Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics that provide access to care regardless of ability to pay receive automatic facility HPSA designation. Other factors such as a poverty, infant mortality, and low birth weight rates are part of a community’s demographics and greatly influence an area’s health needs.

HPSA designations are reviewed every three years. The Federal Government can choose to withdraw a designation and its accompanying benefits at the time of 3.5 years. The designation process includes a review conducted by each State Primary Care Office (PCO) and submission of designation requests by PCOs and other interested parties.  Current HPSA designations can be found through HRSA’s search tool. The Office of Primary Care and Rural Health are responsible for updating and mapping Rhode Island HPSAs.