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Press Releases: Colorado

March 2, 2010

$1 Million Kaiser Permanente Grant Program to Stimulate Health Care Jobs and Education in Southern Colorado

Funds provide scholarships to UCCS, Pikes Peak Community College, CSU-Pueblo and Pueblo Community College students; grant also launches loan repayment program at community clinics

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — As Colorado faces historic unemployment rates, a new partnership between Kaiser Permanente and four state colleges and universities will bring hundreds of new health care jobs to southern Colorado.

The $1 million program is unique because it supports careers in nursing and front line health care professionals such as lab/radiology technicians and medical assistants.

The majority of funds — $750,000 — will provide more than 100 scholarships to students pursuing degrees in nursing or allied health professions at The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado State University — Pueblo, and Pueblo Community College. An additional $250,000 will be allocated to a loan repayment program for health care professionals already employed by area safety net clinics.

Southern Colorado unemployment ranks among the highest in the state, and the region also faces a shortage of health care workers. In the nursing field alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million new and replacement nurses will be needed in the U.S. by 2016. Kaiser Permanente’s grant award addresses both of these problems in southern Colorado by providing hundreds of new scholarships and repaying workers’ loans.

The effort is believed the first in Colorado to tie loan repayment for allied health professionals to community clinics called “safety nets,” which provide free or low-cost care to underserved patients. Often, these facilities struggle to recruit or retain health care workers. In Colorado, the average safety net staff turnover rate is approximately 23 percent.

To qualify for these scholarships or loan repayments, individuals must commit to working two years in a designated safety net clinic.

“Our health care and educational sectors are caught in the perfect storm — demands are growing as budgets are tightening” said Donna Lynne, DrPH, president of Kaiser Permanente Colorado. “Kaiser Permanente recognized this challenge as an opportunity to invest in an innovative workforce development program that supports our educational institutions and places nurses and other health care professionals in the clinics that need them most.”

“By providing scholarships for nursing students and loan repayment for those already in the profession, Kaiser Permanente has created a win-win scenario for our state, our students, and our alumni,” said CSU-Pueblo President Joseph Garcia. “We are proud to partner with them to address the current nursing shortage, and we appreciate their generosity to our students.”

Scholarships will be available to students pursuing degrees in nursing and allied health occupations for the Fall 2010 semester at the four partner institutions. The amount of money and the number of scholarships to be awarded varies depending on the school. Students may contact each school’s financial aid office for application deadlines and additional details.

The loan repayment program is anticipated to begin in Fall 2010, as soon as the participating safety net clinics are identified.

“Kaiser Permanente is investing in the future and helping students and the communities of southern Colorado to reach higher. We are grateful for this support,” said UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak.

“Pikes Peak Community College is honored to partner with Kaiser Permanente to invest in the future of quality health care in southern Colorado,” Tony Kinkel, president of Pikes Peak Community College said. “This gift to the PPCC Foundation will provide full scholarships to more than 40 nursing and allied health students who have a passion for serving our citizens, especially those of modest means who use our safety net clinics.”

“Kaiser Permanente is affording many of our students in nursing and allied health the opportunity to have their education funded if they commit to be being employed in a southern Colorado safety net clinic upon graduation, “ said Sue Kochevar, dean of health professions at Pueblo Community College. “This is definitely a win-win situation, providing our students the resources they need to acquire their education and providing the qualified health professionals needed in southern Colorado.”

 

Scholarship and Loan Repayment At-a-Glance

Scholarships

Purpose: Increase allied health professional workforce.
Grant total: $750,000
Number of contracts awarded: 4 institutions:
• The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
• Pikes Peak Community College
• Colorado State University — Pueblo
• Pueblo Community College
Eligibility requirement: Agrees to practice in medically underserved safety net clinics in southern Colorado for at least two years after graduation.
How money is dispensed: Up to $50,000 per professional over 2 years.  **The amount of money available to students and the number of scholarships varies depending on the school.
How/when to apply: Scholarships available for Fall 2010 semester. Students can contact the school’s financial aid office for deadlines and details.


Loan Repayment

Purpose: Increase allied health professional workforce.
Grant total: $250,000
Number of contracts awarded: A total of 43 safety net clinics exist in southern Colorado. Participating clinics are still being identified.
Eligibility requirement: Agrees to practice in medically underserved safety net clinics in southern Colorado for an additional two years.
How money is dispensed: Up to $10,000 per professional over 2 years.
How/when to apply: Applicants will be invited to apply beginning in Fall 2010.


Areas of Education Programs and Degrees
Eligible scholarship and loan repayment recipients may pursue, or may already have pursued, one of the following areas of study.

Health Care Science Family and Social Work
• Allied Health

• Social Work
• Human Services
• Human Services Management

Medical Support and Technology
• Surgical Technology
• Radiologic Technology
• Dental Assisting
• Medical Insurance Billing and Coding
• Pharmacy Technician
• Medical Laboratory Technician
• Medical Assisting with XRAY
• Clinical Medical Assisting
• Mental Health Services Technician
• Health Care Support Technician
• Physical Therapist Assistant
• Psychiatric Technician
• Phlebotomy Technician
• Medical Sonography

Medical Administration
• Health Services Administration
• Medical Assisting
• Medical Administrative Assistant
• Medical Administrative/Medical Secretary
• Medical Office Management

Nursing and Emergency Medicine
• Nursing
• Practical Nursing
• Nursing/Informatics
• Nursing/Health Care Management
• Health Administration

 

About Kaiser Permanente Colorado
Kaiser Permanente Colorado is the state's largest nonprofit health plan, proudly working to improve the lives and health of Denver, Boulder, and Southern Colorado area residents for 40 years. Kaiser Permanente Colorado provides comprehensive health care services to 500,000 members through 20 medical offices and a network of affiliated hospitals and physicians. The health plan was twice named “Highest in Member Satisfaction” among Commercial Health Plans by J.D. Power and Associates. It is also the top-ranked commercial and Medicare health plan in Colorado, according to U.S. News & World Report/National Committee for Quality Assurance. In 2008, Kaiser Permanente directed more than $50 million to community benefit programs to improve the health of all Coloradans. For more Kaiser Permanente news, visit kp.org/newscenter or follows us on twitter @kpcolorado.