Through the New Hampshire Sector Partnerships Initiative (SPI), we take time to celebrate the activities taking place in each sector once a year. March is SPI’s NH Health Care Month 2019 and as the sector advisor, I want to bring you up to speed regarding some exciting events and initiatives that are being developed and implemented.
North Country Workforce
New Hampshire has a significant shortage of LPNs and a lack of programs that can provide the necessary training to be certified. SPI recognizes that this is an issue statewide and that this problem is quite acute in the North Country. As a result, we pulled together representatives from area hospitals and health care facilities, as well as some individuals in public policy to discuss possible solutions.
We reviewed a successful model in place in the Monadnock region that effectively helped individuals advance from LNAs to LPNs and are in the process of replicating it. The innovative model uses hospital employees as nurse educators. Nurses that have a Masters of Nursing Education are able to fill this role.
Through this work, a new partnership was established that reaches across our border to connect with resources in Vermont and will kick off this fall to help address our nursing shortage in the North Country. Vermont Technical College and the North Country Healthcare Consortium (an affiliation for four hospitals and home care facilities) have partnered to launch an LPN program beginning in the fall of 2019. Twenty people applied to be in the first cohort of students and eight were selected. The instructor will be a hospital employee working with VTC.
Seacoast Health Care Workforce Collaborative
As part of Health Care Month, SPI is working with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to plan a couple of listening sessions entitled “Understanding the Barriers-what keeps the health care workforce from growing?” Employers and employees from at least five different regions will share their stories of how transportation, housing and financial decisions create barriers for potential workers and limit current workers from furthering their education and training. The goal is to help policymakers understand these barriers and consider ways to remove them.
Example: The Portsmouth region’s high cost of housing. Health care workers in lower-paying positions are faced with housing challenges of living near work and transportation challenges if they live further away. The target audience for these sessions is employees working in hospitals and nursing homes, including those in health care administration, as well as local and state policymakers. Once all details have been finalized, potential attendees will be able to register from the NH Healthcare Association website. Please check back soon on the SPI website’s event page for more information.
Monadnock Region Healthcare Workforce Group and Background Check Legislation
Another barrier to employment has been the slowness of the required background check process required for health care workers. The Monadnock Region Healthcare Workforce Group has been working on a myriad of issues to make access to health care professions easier given that there are so many job vacancies across the state – over 2,000 in total. This has led to the introduction of HB 637, which includes requiring the NH Department of Safety to accept and process online background checks. Right now, the process is manual and requires individuals to drive to Concord to collect and submit forms. The bill has wide, bipartisan support and is currently working through the legislative process.
Lakes Region Healthcare Workforce Collaborative
As a statewide effort, SPI has focused on engaging companies across all regions. As a result, we have seen more interest in connecting the dots in the health care sector in regions where this is not currently the case. Such an effort is moving forward in the Lakes Region. This workforce collaborative is in the formation stages and includes some individuals from the NH State Legislature, sector employers and educators. The group is meeting in Meredith and anyone interested in engaging with the health care sector in the Lakes Region is encouraged to contact me so you can get on an e-mail distribution.
Bringing an LPN Training Program to Manchester
Another early-stage effort that is gaining some headway is to create an LPN program that would start at the high school level where students could earn credits and continue with coursework at one of three community colleges in NH. SPI helped make some of the connections between MCC President Susan Huard, who researched this model and possible partners that could make this a reality. Similar to the Monadnock and North Country programs, the program would engage a licensed nurse to oversee the program and Governor Sununu is supporting funding the effort to get the program up and running by making available $80,000 to hire a program manager who will help design the program and obtain Board of Nursing approval.
In summary, as we celebrate SPI’s Health Care Month, it’s clear that dots are being connected and best practices are being replicated to ensure that more individuals have increased workforce opportunities.
Please keep the good ideas coming! Feel free to contact me any time: 603.733.6072 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roxie A. Severance, CNHA, FACHCA is the Health Care Workforce Advisor for NH Sector Partnerships Initiative.Read more about Roxie