Rural Health Learning Collaborative: Improving Access to Behavioral Health Care in Rural Areas

August 9–10, 2017 | Washington, DC

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) Health Division hosted a multi-state convening as part of the Rural Health Learning Collaborative in Washington, D.C. The participating states included Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina and North Dakota. The meeting focused on strategies states may consider to meet behavioral health workforce needs in rural areas.

August 9, 2017

Welcome & Introductions


  • Lauren Block, program director, Health Division, NGA Center
  • Tom Morris, associate administrator, Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration

Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Care: Pioneering Models in Rural Areas


  • Parinda Khatri, chief clinical officer, Cherokee Health Systems
  • Beth Tanzman, executive director, Blueprint for Health, Department of Vermont Health Access
  • Wendy Tiegreen, director, Office of Medicaid Coordination and Health System Innovation, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

Facilitated Discussion: Maximizing Health Workforce Capacity in Rural Areas

Lunch Session: Dialogue with HRSA


  • Israil Ali, director, Division of National Health Services Corps, Health Resources and Services Administration
  • Alex Huttinger, director, Division of Policy and Shortage Designation, Health Resources and Services Administration
  • Tom Morris, associate administrator, Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration

Using Telehealth and Telemedicine to Meet Behavioral Health Care Needs


  • Latoya Thomas, director, State Policy Resource Center, American Telemedicine Association
  • Brian Cooper, telepsychiatry and rural hospital specialist, North Carolina Office of Rural Health, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Geoffrey Boyce, executive director, InSight Telepsychiatry, Center for Family Guidance Health Network

Cross-State Dialogue with the Speakers

State Team Planning

August 10, 2017

Developing Strategies for Crisis Intervention


  • Linda Henderson-Smith, director,  Children and Trauma Informed Services, National Council for Behavioral Health
  • Adam Zarrin, senior policy advisor, Criminal Justice, Public Safety, Military & Veteran Affairs, and Transportation, Colorado Office of the Governor
  • Felicia Romero, regional director, Mind Springs Health

State Team Planning

Lunch Session: Key Takeaways and Actions for State