The Rapides Foundation recently awarded four grants totaling $1,875,260 to help meet the healthcare workforce needs of employers in Central Louisiana. Grants were awarded to the following postsecondary institutions serving students in the Foundation’s service area: Louisiana State University Eunice, Northwestern State University, Louisiana State University of Alexandria and Central Louisiana Technical Community College.
The multi-year grants were awarded through the Foundation’s Healthcare Occupations Program, which seeks to increase the number of healthcare graduates prepared to meet the basic level of licensure or certification required by employers for initial hire of high-demand healthcare occupations.
“The Healthcare Occupations Program grant is one of the ways the Foundation is addressing the shortage of qualified healthcare professionals, which is often cited as one of the main barriers to people receiving healthcare services,” said Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation. “By funding grants in this area, we hope to increase the number of health professionals who graduate and are then able to provide critical healthcare services within our region.”
The grant supports nonprofit, accredited colleges and universities to add and expand current healthcare program offerings and concentrations to meet the critical workforce needs of local employers, and it specifically addresses shortages in the three occupational fields of nursing, behavioral health and allied health.
The Rapides Foundation first offered the Healthcare Occupations Program Grant funding opportunity in 2016 as a result of its analysis of the healthcare workforce landscape in the region and awarded six grants totaling $2.1 million. After updating its healthcare workforce analysis in 2021, the funding opportunity was opened again and in February 2022 the Foundation’s Board of Trustees awarded seven grants totaling $3.4 million. The four recent grants were awarded in May and September and bring the total amount of grant funding to $7.4 million.
The following Healthcare Occupations Program grants were awarded:
Central Louisiana Technical Community College was awarded a $540,000 grant in September to collaborate with Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) to expand Practical Nursing programs throughout Central Louisiana. BPCC will expand the LPN program in Natchitoches to add an additional annual cohort of students. CLTCC will leverage this funding with a match from the LCTCS Rapid Response Program to expand the LPN program at the Rod Brady campus in Jena. The expansion will include funding to add an additional cohort of students annually and to update their nursing computer lab. These updates are an integral part in the delivery of online nursing education resources, computerized testing including preparation for NCLEX-Practical Nursing examination and healthcare career readiness.
Louisiana State University of Alexandria was awarded a grant in the amount of $266,662 in September to address the critical nursing shortage in Central Louisiana by increasing the capacity of its LPN to Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) program track. The funding will allow LSUA’s School of Nursing to hire additional adjunct clinical instructors and provide additional work contracts for existing positions to increase available clinical admissions and support to the LPN to ASN program. This program will produce up to 40 new ASN graduates annually.
Louisiana State University Eunice was awarded a $348,998 grant in May to collaborate with LSUA and Rapides Regional Medical Center to fund Surgical Technology classes and a skills lab in AC Buchanan II Building. LSUE, which has an accredited Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology program, will use the funds to hire faculty, recruit students, train students and meet the healthcare workforce demand for the urgent and increasing need for Surgical Technologists and other high-demand professionals in Allied Health.
Northwestern State University received a $719,600 grant in September to increase the number of Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) clinical students admitted to its Alexandria campus each year by initiating a Spring clinical admission for a cohort of 20 BSN students. This enhancement is expected to result in an additional 80 BSN graduates, thereby increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses within The Rapides Foundation service area. Historically, the NSU Alexandria campus only admitted BSN clinical students in the Fall semester.
The Healthcare Occupations Program Grant is offered under the Foundation’s Healthcare Access Initiative and is in support of its mission to improve the health status of Central Louisiana. Through its Healthcare Access Initiative, the Foundation seeks to address the supply and demand gap in the healthcare workforce and builds the capacity of regional postsecondary institutions to meet healthcare workforce needs.