Lee County Health Department (LCHD) received notice from the Department of Health and Human Services they have received a $547,302 HRSA (Health Resources & Services Administration) federal grant. With this Rural Public Health Workforce Training Network Program grant LCHD will partner with Southeastern Community College (SCC), Blessing Health Keokuk, and Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center to develop a Southeast Iowa Public Health Academic Training Program. This program will focus on creating cross-training opportunities for new and existing healthcare personnel to learn principles of community health work, community resources, and public health concepts. This program will be able to assist health care staff in referring to appropriate resources to better patient’s health.
“Lee County Health Department for many years has pursued local and state grant awards to implement programs and services based on the population health needs of the county. This is a very exciting moment for LCHD since this is the agency’s very first HRSA federal grant award,” states Michele Ross, LCHD Administrator. “I’m very proud that Emily and Breanna, along with our committed partners, had a vision, and put that vision to application resulting in this highly competitive grant award. This innovative rural workforce training project will bring public health as a career choice to the forefront of many young adults pursuing careers in health services.”
The project partners are also looking forward to the opportunity. “This grant project will support SCC’s ongoing skills and workforce development in the healthcare sector, and improve economic vitality, and ultimately the health and wellness of our entire region,” adds Kristi Schroeder, SCC Dean of Health Professions.
“We have a longstanding history of working with Lee County Health Department, and are excited to collaborate with them on new opportunities to further meet the needs of the communities that we serve,” stated Kathy Hull, Chief of Small Rural Hospitals, Blessing Health System.
“We are pleased to work with LCHD and other collaborators on this grant to expand opportunities for the regions’ workforce. Competencies in resource navigation and public health are essential in the current landscape of value-based care and community health needs improvement strategies. As we work to address the social determinants of health in the region, we need a workforce that is knowledgeable in the intricacies of community resource navigation and referrals,” adds Vanessa Watson, MPH- Manager of Population Health for Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center.
LCHD Community Outreach & Development Project Coordinator, Breanna Kramer-Riesberg, will oversee the project. Kramer-Riesberg also oversees Empowering Families in Lee County which works to improve resiliency and prevent child maltreatment in our community. “Empowering Families has repeatedly stated the need to better connect people to resources and supports available in our community – this is one of the grants LCHD has applied for to meet this need in our community,” states Kramer-Riesberg.
The first couple months of the project will be establishing course content, and planning course times with SCC. “We hope to have the first course participants start in January 2023,” states Emily Biddenstadt, LCHD Community Health Program Director. “As we move through each course content will be adjusted, and we will be able to share updates, especially of community resources with past participants.”
Program students will have an opportunity to take part in hands-on-trainings with LCHD at rotating clinics in rural areas of Lee County. Students will be able to work with residents to provide support and complete referrals to community resources to improve health outcomes. There will also be opportunities for current healthcare workers to be part of the program through a series of “Lunch and Learn” presentations. As the program progresses, clinics and presentations will be announced through the media and on the LCHD website (www.leecountyhd.org) and social media.