A grant of approximately $200,000, awarded to CareSouth Carolina from the RCHN Community Health Foundation, will be used to partner with Northeastern Technical College (NETC) to develop new training programs aimed at growing a skilled workforce for community health care. The money will be used to recruit, train and retain health center workers; with an emphasis on training front-line workers on chronic care, according to Feygele Jacobs of the RCHN Community Health Foundation.
CareSouth Carolina, with its home office in Hartsville, has 10 health centers in this area serving about 37,000 patients. It is one of only five federally qualified community health centers around the country to receive a RCHN CHF worker training grant this year.
The RCHN Community Health Foundation, originally known as the Ryan Community Health Network of New York, was formed in 2005 as a non-profit foundation whose mission is to support and benefit the work of community health centers nationally.
In partnership with Northeastern Technical College in Cheraw, the $199,308 award will allow CareSouth to increase the number of skilled community health workers and certified medical assistants, said Jacobs. It also will expand the “patient-centered team” model of care.
“Not only is this good news for health care givers and those seeking health care,” said Wylie Bell, public relations coordinator for NETC, “but it is great news about more jobs coming to our communities.”
“We are thrilled to receive this grant that will help us to increase access to care and improve the patient experience,” said Ann Lewis, CEO, CareSouth Carolina. “As a rural health care provider, it can be a challenge to find workers with the right skills. This project will help us to develop our front-line staff, which is good news for our community both in terms of career opportunities and our ability to improve patient health.”
With a focus on chronic care, CareSouth Carolina plans to build on the success of the Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP) program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The project will train staff who are essential to broadening and strengthening the center’s capacity as a patient-centered medical home. Working with Northeastern Technical College, CareSouth Carolina will also use the grant money to design and implement a certified Community Health Worker curriculum.
Community Health Centers such as CareSouth Carolina are located in under served communities where challenges to recruit and retain a skilled workforce often include a limited labor pool, lack of vocational training, and language and cultural barriers, said Jacobs. Yet, our nation relies on community health centers to provide care to more than 20 million people each year, and that number is expected to increase dramatically when the Affordable Care Act takes full effect in 2014.
“Our ability to meet a greater demand for health care falls squarely on our system’s ability to increase capacity,” said Julio Bellber, President and CEO of RCHN CHF. “That means we must prepare our nation’s 1,200 community health centers to recruit, train, and retain workers who can meet increased patient care needs.”
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.