Florida receives $1.5 million grant to train rural healthcare workers – State of Reform

Community Health IT, Inc. (CommHIT) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida received $1,545,000 in grants from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Funding for fiscal year 2022 will support the Rural Public Health Workforce Training Network program.

Get the latest information on state-specific policies for the healthcare sector delivered to your inbox.

Funding is part of HHS’ $60 million commitment nationwide rural health workforce programs. The grants include $46 million from President Biden’s U.S. bailout to “expand health care capacity in rural and tribal communities,” according to the department’s announcement.

“One of the most important steps we can take to improve access to health care in rural communities, including access to behavioral health care, is to invest in growing the workforce. rural health work,” HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson said in the announcement. “Today’s announcements are another important part of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s strategy to advance health equity for the nearly 65 million people who call the areas home. rural.”

CommHIT was created in 2011 by Florida healthcare and economic stakeholders, with the goal of “connecting communities to improve community health and the financial sustainability of the medical community” through various initiatives. These include a community-based health information exchange, a reimbursement program for IT-related health facility costs, and workforce development programs.

The $1.5 million grant from HHS will fall under this latter pathway, going toward the Rural Public Health Personnel Training Network Program (RPHWTNP). A nationwide shortage of healthcare workers, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, is driving demand to fill vacancies. According to HHS, demand will increase for the following health care workers by 2030:

  • 11% increase in demand for CHWs (to 67,560)
  • 17% increase in demand for EMTs and paramedics (to 305,770)
  • 30% increase in demand for respiratory therapists (to 144,100)

The RPHWTNP program will connect award winners, such as CommHIT, to technical assistance providers for a period of 3 years. The program will help train health workers to fill in-demand positions in rural areas, focusing on program components such as the following:

  • Community health support
  • Technical assistance in health informatics and/or telehealth
  • Community para-medicine
  • Case management staff and/or respiratory therapists

CommHIT was one of the organizations that received the most funding for the RPHWTNP. A total of 31 public, private and non-profit organizations were reward program funding.

Michael A. Bynum