Thursday, April 3, 2014 -- Governor Deval Patrick today awarded nearly $2 million in grants to help train health care providers to improve patient service and reduce costs. The funding will go to 51 organizations across the state to begin assessing how to prepare health care workers for the careers of the 21st century economy. Chapter 224 health care cost containment legislation allocated $20 million to prepare the health care industry for the new demands and innovations called for in the legislation. The Governor made the announcement at Lynn Community Health Center.
"In Massachusetts we believe that health is a public good and every resident deserves access to quality, affordable care," said Governor Patrick. "These grants will help providers prepare workers for the jobs of the 21st century economy, in turn improving the quality of care and lowering costs."
The award recipients may partner with hospitals, community centers and educational institutions to create new service delivery models and determine what workforce skills and training are necessary for today's workers.
"The health care industry is changing rapidly," said Labor and Workforce Secretary Rachel Kaprielian. "These grants will enable many health care providers and their partners across the Commonwealth to keep pace with these changes. This first round of grants will help these businesses assess their workforce and determine what skills and training they will need to change operations and deliver more efficient health care."
The Health Care Workforce Transformation Grants will enable health care businesses to assess the skills of their workforce, as well as the relevance, quantity and quality of existing training or education programs. They will also allow businesses to develop a plan to deliver new training and education programs to their current workers and, in partnership with the state's educational institutions, determine the need for improving or creating programs that will attract future workers.
This first round of funding reflects the Patrick Administration's ongoing effort to encourage economic growth by supporting innovation in the Commonwealth's health care industry. By providing resources to develop new and innovative training and education programs, Massachusetts will continue to solidify its place as a leader in health care modernization and improvement.
Service Employees Internal Union 1199, which administers a training and upgrading fund, will receive a $37,400 grant to partner with Lynn Community Health Center, Union Hospital and North Shore Medical Center. The grant allows these providers to develop a training program for frontline workers to gain skills in safely and effectively managing interactions with patients who may have behavioral issues.
"These grants are a key step towards ensuring the incumbent healthcare workforce is prepared to deliver the highest level of care within the changing healthcare environment," said Veronica Turner, Executive VP of 1199SEIU. "The healthcare workers of 1199SEIU applaud all of the key stakeholders for recognizing the need to invest in workforce training and education as part of our mutual efforts to continuously improve healthcare quality while reducing medical costs. Building innovative and dynamic training partnerships with employers to ensure high-quality, cost-effective care is a hallmark of the 1199SEIU legacy. Through programs like these, 1199SEIU caregivers have been and will continue to be pioneers in the pursuit of healthcare workforce training and innovation."
Earlier this week, Governor Patrick launched the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund (PWTF). Also part of Chapter 224 health care cost containment legislation, this first-in-the-nation effort provides more than $40 million in grants to nine community-based partnerships over four years to help fight chronic illness and improve health outcomes while reducing health care costs. The Fund supports community-based partnerships in achieving measurable health goals through research-based interventions. The goals of the Fund are to reduce rates of the most prevalent and preventable health conditions, advance healthy behaviors, increase the adoption of workplace wellness or health management programs and address health disparities. Municipalities, healthcare systems, community organizations, businesses, regional planning organizations and schools are working together to launch community-specific programs to address issues including hypertension, smoking, falls prevention among older adults and pediatric asthma.
"Workforce training investments are so important to help assess and build on the skills of our health care workers," said Senator Tom McGee. "These grants will help hospitals and community health centers stay ahead of the curve in an industry that is constantly changing."
"I appreciate Governor Patrick's commitment to assuring that healthcare facilities like the Lynn Community Health Center have the tools to create a new model for healthcare that emphasizes prevention and lifelong health," said 8th Essex District State Representative Lori Ehrlich, whose district includes Lynn. "A key first step is making sure our healthcare workforce is properly trained to deliver cost-effective care. These grants will be highly beneficial to healthcare workers, patients, and the Commonwealth as a whole."
Health Care Workforce Transformation Grants announced on Thursday are administered by the Commonwealth Corporation under the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Following funding rounds will support the implementation of training and meeting workforce challenges. Health care providers must send in a letter of intent by June 27, 2014 to apply for up to $250,000 in grants. Applications will be due by July 31, 2014.