Howell County Commission Funds Health Workforce Development Consortium Between Ozarks Healthcare, South Central Career Center and Missouri State University-West PlainsOzark Radio News

WESTERN PLAINS, MONTH – As healthcare worker shortages continue to be a national and local issue, the Howell County Commission announced funding for a partnership between Ozarks Healthcare, the South Central Career Center (SCCC) and the Missouri-West Plains State University (MSU-WP) to create a Healthcare Workforce Development Consortium that will increase the sustainability of healthcare careers and recruit more students into the health professions that exist in the community.

The consortium will be funded by the Howell County Commission through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding in the amount of $380,000 received during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ozarks Healthcare Foundation.


ARPA funds were issued by the federal government to provide additional financial relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 at the state and local level. One of the goals of ARPA funds can be used to include responding to negative economic impacts, including job training for industries such as healthcare that have suffered from employee shortages.

“The Howell County Commission is excited to work with Ozarks Healthcare, South Central Career Center and Missouri State University-West Plains to meet the need for a larger and stronger local healthcare workforce,” said Mark. Collins, presiding commissioner of Howell County. . “By funding this consortium, we will help meet the health care needs of our community and generations of community members to come. »

Consortium funding from the Howell County Commission will also create a job opportunity for a Career Pathway Coordinator. The coordinator will work with local school districts and consortium members to guide students interested in healthcare careers.

“Healthcare worker shortages are one of the biggest threats to providing quality care in rural Missouri,” said Tom Keller, president and CEO of Ozarks Healthcare. “We are extremely grateful for the Howell County Commission’s focus on helping our local health system and community partners rebuild and develop the health workforce. With investments from the Howell County Commission, we will be better able to continue to care for the well-being of our community and create and fill more healthcare employment opportunities through this consortium.

Each partner organization involved in the consortium will contribute to achieving the overall goal of strengthening the local healthcare workforce. Ozarks Healthcare will provide tuition reimbursements and scholarships with a work commitment. The scholarships will be funded by the Ozarks Healthcare Foundation.

“Our Foundation is here to support our healthcare system and our patients,” said Josh Reeves, vice president of development and advocacy at Ozarks Healthcare. “Ensuring a strong frontline of caregivers is part of that mission. In the state of Missouri, there are currently 36,479 vacancies for full-time nurses and nursing assistants. At current rates, Ozarks Healthcare will need to fill more than 150 registered nurse (RN) and 70 licensed practical nurse (LPN) positions over the next three years. By increasing ongoing financial support for health care students and opportunities to gain training locally, our Foundation will contribute to the medical care of families and friends within our community.

MSU-WP will focus on increasing the capacity of its nursing program.

“Our enrollment in the nursing program is now at the highest limit established by our accrediting agency,” said MSU-WP Chancellor Dr. Dennis Lancaster. “That’s why Missouri State-West Plains plans to seek approval soon to increase this limit to meet the demand for registered nurses in our region. Having a partnership with Ozarks Healthcare and the South Central Career Center means that “a concerted community effort can focus not only on increasing the number of students through our programs, but, more importantly, on improving the quality of health care throughout the region. We thank the commission of Howell County for his help and great vision to help make this partnership a reality.

SCCC will focus on a younger generation of those who make up the future of healthcare by providing early healthcare education to high school students and certificate programs that appeal to non-traditional students. The SCCC will also take a proactive role in sharing the diversity of the healthcare field with students.

“Through the Nursing Early Admissions Track and partnering with thirteen area high schools, South Central Career Center will be able to train the next generation of nursing assistants for earlier entry into the field,” said Josh Cotter. , director of the SCCC. “This program will reduce the time from high school graduation to completion of the program from approximately 22 months to just eight months. We couldn’t have done this without the partnership of Ozarks Healthcare, Missouri State University-West Plains, and the support of Senator Eslinger and Governor Parson.

Throughout the year, consortium members will focus heavily on introducing the initiative and recruiting students to local educational institutions. In January 2023, the consortium plans to welcome its first cohort of students.

Updates will be shared as the consortium progresses. Community members are encouraged to check the social media and websites of the three consortium partners for more information.

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