Northeast collaborates on affordable and accessible health care education closer to home

by jamesc  3/18/2016 6:49:48 AM -- 

NORFOLK – Four Nebraska community colleges will share an $11.9 million federal grant to help expand access to health care education for low income Nebraskans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families has awarded the Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) to Central, Mid-Plains, Northeast and Southeast community colleges.

Central will partner with the other colleges to provide TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) recipients and other low income Nebraskans with education and training that will prepare them to enter and advance in positions that pay well and that are expected to be in high demand through the Project: Health Education Laddering Program (HELP).

Central Community College was the lead applicant in the application. The new grant dollars will allow the college to partner with Mid-Plains, Northeast and Southeast to increase access to training and education by scaling strategies and interventions developed in Central’s $9.5 million HPOG in 2010.

“This grant expands on the previous grant,” said Marni Danhauer, Central’s grants manager. “The crux of both programs is to educate TANF recipients and other low-income individuals for health care careers that are in demand and pay well.”

Danhauer said that the new grant will shift the focus of Project: HELP from short-term to long-term training. “We’re focusing on getting individuals into associate of applied science degrees because these will lead to those better-paying jobs.”

The new five-year goal is to enroll 1,445 participants with 94.5 percent completing basic skills training and 64 percent obtaining employment in a health care occupation. Another goal is for participants is to collectively attain at least 1,043 degrees, diplomas or industry-recognized credentials.

In order to help them succeed, students will not only receive tuition assistance, but also supportive services such tutoring, transportation assistance and career placement.

The grant also will serve more Nebraskans thanks to the addition of Mid-Plains, Northeast and Southeast community colleges as Project: HELP partners. That means access to health care education expands to a 60,382-square-mile, 77-county service area, thus reaching 43 percent of the state’s TANF recipients as compared to 13.1 percent in the 2010 project.

“Rather than duplicating our health care programs, (the four community colleges) are collaborating to share our existing programs,” said Dr. Marcie Kemnitz, dean of Health Sciences at Central.

Through the grant, Central Community College plans to establish a medical assisting satellite lab in Norfolk and to develop a new pharmacy technology program.

Dr. Michele Gill, dean of Health and Wellness at Northeast Community College, said an exciting innovative example of the grant will be the opportunity for students in Northeast’s service area who are pursuing a degree in surgical technology the ability to remain closer to home to complete their lab portion of their classes.

“Previously, lab, clinical, and practicum work for these students had to be completed at Southeast Community College in Lincoln. The new grant will establish satellite locations in the other three community college areas, including Northeast’s 20-county region. A partnership with Southeast and Norfolk’s hospital, Faith Regional Health Services, will now allow our students to complete their lab work here instead of Lincoln.”

In addition to Faith Regional, Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, and Great Plains Health in North Platte will provide space for students to complete their labs.

Gill said the grant will also provide an onsite success coach and shared career coach to help those surgical technology students, providing access to tutoring, advising, academic support, and access to clinical sites in the Northeast service area and workshops focused on job readiness skills.

“We are providing services to overcome barriers and obstacles to ensure degree completion by our students enrolled in the associate of applied science degree in surgical technology and many of our health and wellness division programs of study,” she said. 

In addition, the grant will provide student support services to Northeast students who qualify and who are pursuing education in the health care careers of emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic, license practical nurse (LPN), health information management systems and physical therapist assistant.

Gill said, “The overall goal is to provide opportunities and access to high demand jobs in the industry to TANF and low income students by giving them hope and access to reach beyond barriers they often experience allowing them to seek good paying jobs in the fields of health care.”



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