Foundation addresses medical manpower issue through new strategy
Healthcare Occupations Program to address healthcare worker shortage
The Rapides Foundation’s ongoing Community Health Assessments have shown that many Cenla residents report difficulty in accessing healthcare services. One of the factors contributing to that difficulty is a shortage of healthcare professionals, especially in the rural parishes of Central Louisiana.
In support of its mission to improve the health status of Central Louisiana, the Foundation has addressed these healthcare provider issues over the years through a series of grants and partnerships under its Healthcare Access Initiative. However, in 2015 the Foundation began reviewing current and past studies of the status of the healthcare workforce in Central Louisiana, and reaching out to educational and industry leaders to determine if there was a more strategic approach to addressing this issue.
The result is a strategy that will fall under the Foundation’s Economic Development Initiative which seeks to address two major priorities of The Rapides Foundation in a manner consistent with its legacy of healthcare and as a continued provider of healthcare. The priorities addressed are to ensure sufficient healthcare workforce to meet provider needs for improved access and quality of care, and to provide education and training for high-wage employment in the economic driver sectors of the Central Louisiana economy. The Foundation will implement the strategy through its new Healthcare Occupations Program.
“An expanded and higher trained healthcare workforce will help bridge the gap between the supply and demand necessary to meet the health needs of Central Louisiana,” said Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation. “Our Healthcare Occupations Program is designed to help attract and retain more high-quality healthcare employees in Central Louisiana.”
The Foundation intends to partner with invited postsecondary institutions located in Central Louisiana to support projects aimed at increasing the number of graduates from healthcare programs, as well as addressing the gaps between healthcare workforce supply and demand. Healthcare occupations targeted by the Foundation include: Associate Providers (physician assistants or nurse practitioners); Registered Nurses; Licensed Practical Nurses; Certified Nursing Assistants; and Licensed Clinical Social Workers.
“Results from our recent Healthcare Workforce Analysis showed us it is critical to have a trained and prepared healthcare workforce in Central Louisiana,” Rosier said. “We are confident our higher education institutions will present the most effective ways to ensure that Cenla finds and retains quality candidates to serve as health professionals in our region.”
The strategy is supported by two recent studies, a 2013 industry growth analysis by the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance and a 2016 follow-up analysis by The Rapides Foundation that emphasized an overwhelming need for quality healthcare professionals at the educational and industry levels within the nine parishes served by the Foundation. The 2016 Healthcare Workforce Analysis highlighted a significant gap in supply and demand of healthcare professionals. Due to the aging population of the service area, this gap has the potential to significantly affect the overall health of the area, the report concluded.