Avera Receives Grant Funds To Deal With Nursing Shortage

Sioux Falls, SD — One of the major healthcare companies in our region has recently received millions of dollars in grant funds.

Avera officials tell us Avera has received over $2.5 million in funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support nursing and address healthcare workforce capacity through innovative solutions including telehealth and virtual nursing.

Rachael Sherard, Senior Vice President for Rural Health at Avera says that the healthcare workforce is a critical need throughout the entire Avera footprint. She says the solution isn’t simply to hire more, because there aren’t enough trained and qualified nurses and other frontline caregivers for all the needs that exist. She says Avera is looking to novel ways to better support the professionals they have through technology, to maximize innovative solutions for caregivers to spend more time doing what led them to this profession-helping others, and reduce time spent doing administrative and regulatory tasks like documentation.

The first grant, Project NEXT, a $1.5 million grant from HRSA, will support a three-year Rural Public Health Workforce Training Network Program. Project NEXT will prepare the rural public health workforce by providing cross-trained skills in telehealth, health information technology and skill opportunities such as telemetry monitoring and virtual nursing.

Cross-training will allow others to perform some tasks of nursing, such as documentation, allowing nurses to spend more time at the patient bedside. And telemedicine, telemetry monitoring, and virtual nursing extend expertise across the miles through interactive virtual technology.

She says that South Dakota’s most acute health workforce need is certainly nursing in rural areas. Sherard says, “Project NEXT offers Avera an opportunity to support nursing staff, not simply by hiring more RNs, but also by leveraging the capacity of its health IT workforce to intervene in ways that are new and cutting-edge.”

While the grant is aimed at a South Dakota nursing shortage, in addition to Avera McKennan and the other Avera hospitals in Sioux Falls, Avera has several facilities in the tri-state region. In our area, the Osceola Regional Health Center in Sibley, Sioux Center Health in Sioux Center, Hegg Memorial Health Center in Rock Valley, Avera Merrill Pioneer Hospital in Rock Rapids, and several other northwest Iowa clinics and other facilities are all connected to Avera.



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