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Federal grant to fund healthcare collaboration in southeast Iowa

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Southeastern Community College
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courtesy photo

Several entities are working together to create a new healthcare training program in southeast Iowa.

The Southeast Iowa Public Health Academic Training Program will be funded through a $547,302 federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant.

Emily Biddenstadt, Community Health Program Director for the Lee County Health Department, said this was the first time they had applied for a HRSA grant so they were a bit surprised to receive it.

“We were definitely not expecting it,” she said with a laugh. “But we’re excited to have this opportunity, for sure.”

Biddenstadt said the program will offer cross-training opportunities for healthcare professionals and students. She said it will give them an appreciation for what public health and community health do and the opportunities they offer.

“They don’t really understand that we have a home visiting program or an oral health program or a maternal health program. Public health really does serve the life span, from maternal health to hospice care,” she said.

“This cross-training program is going to let students be more aware of what’s out there for the patients or clients that they’ll be working with so they can refer them later on to what they may need to lead a healthier lifestyle.”

She said the health department will develop the eight-week certificate program with Southeastern Community College. Blessing Health Keokuk and Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center are also involved in the program, which could begin early next year.

It will include training at various clinics.

“Those clinics will give students one-on-one opportunities. It’ll give them opportunities to work directly with people in the area that are looking for resources, that are needing maybe some additional help in their life. It’ll give them the opportunity to get that hands-on experience,” Biddenstadt said.

It could also include job shadowing opportunities.

Biddenstadt said the majority of the funding for the program will go toward developing and implementing it. She said they will also set aside money so that students can participate for free.

She said the hope is to create a course that SCC can continue offering even after the three-year grant expires, and she hoped healthcare organizations will recognize the value of hiring someone who’s completed the program.

“When they see this certificate program on an applicant’s resume, they will know that this person went through the course and learned about referrals for community resources, they learned about what’s available in the area, and they learned about case management practices,” she said.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.