Federal Government Announces $40 Million to Address Rural Health Care Workforce Shortages

covidImage by Elliot Alderson

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Labor announced approximately $40 million in H-1B Rural Healthcare Grant Program funds awarded to partnerships of public and private entities to address rural healthcare workforce shortages in communities across the country.

The coronavirus pandemic has increased the need for healthcare workers, particularly in rural areas where that need was already acute. Through the expansion of employment and training models for the healthcare industry, the Department’s Employment and Training Administration aims to help individuals gain the skills necessary to provide needed services, fill vacancies and allow employers to find skilled workers more readily.

The aim of this funding is to increase the number of individuals training in healthcare occupations that directly impact patient care and alleviate healthcare workforce shortages by creating sustainable employment and training programs in healthcare occupations (including behavioral and mental healthcare) serving rural populations. Grantees will incorporate new and emergent technologies, such as interactive simulations, personalized and virtual instruction, educational gaming and digital tutors, into the educational component of their training design.

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“The ultimate purpose of these investments is a healthier American public,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training John Pallasch. “But to meet that goal, underserved rural areas of the country need more and better trained healthcare workers, and these community partnerships will help us meet that goal while creating local buy-in and boosting economic opportunity.”

The public-private partnerships will use both federal and state funding streams, as well as investments from the private sector, working together to build a skilled healthcare workforce in their areas. The Department encourages grantees to generate at least 15 percent of the total amount of requested funds as leveraged funds to support the grant project.

Grant recipients include employers in the healthcare sector; nonprofit healthcare organizations affiliated with hospitals and other medical facilities; healthcare industry and/or occupation associations; organizations designated as “Primary Care Associations” by the Health Resources & Services Administration; Workforce Innovation and Opportunity State or Local Workforce Development Boards and federally recognized Indian/Native American Tribal Governments; and Native American Program entities eligible for funding under Section 166 of WIOA (29 U.S.C. 3221).

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Section 414(c) of the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998, as amended (codified at 29 U.S.C. 3224a) funds the H-1B Rural Healthcare Grant Program with awards ranging from $1.2 million to $2.5 million.

The recipients of these H-1B Rural Healthcare Grants are as follows:

Recipient City State Amount
Alaska Primary Care Association Anchorage AK $1,231,238
California Rural Indian Health Board Inc. Roseville CA $2,500,000
Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence Denver CO $2,500,000
Western Colorado Area Health Education Center Grand Junction CO $2,500,000
CommunityHealth IT Kennedy Space Center FL $2,500,000
Tecumseh Area Partnership Inc. Lafayette IN $2,499,963
Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program Inc. Hazard KY $2,500,000
Coastal Counties Workforce Inc. Brunswick ME $2,500,000
Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Lansing MI $2,500,000
Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital Lebanon NH $1,231,238
Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation Las Vegas NV $2,500,000
Workforce Development Board of Herkimer, Madison and Oneida counties Utica NY $2,500,000
Ohio Area 7 Consortium of Chief Elected Officials Springfield OH $2,499,227
Pee Dee Regional Council of Governments Florence SC $2,271,023
West River Area Health Education Center Rapid City SD $2,500,000
Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area Cedar Park TX $2,500,000
Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board Inc. Ashland WI $2,499,843
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