Press Release

Gillibrand Working To Secure Economic Recovery Dollars For Health Care Worker Training In Western New York

Nov 18, 2009

Washington, DC – U.S.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today pushed for federal economic recovery dollars
to create a health care worker training program in Western New York. The federal dollars would be allocated by the U.S.
Department of Labor (DOL) through the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
, which Senator Gillibrand helped pass
earlier this year. The federal dollars would primarily be used to train
new nurses to help fill a current lack of qualified nurses in the face of
increasing needs.

“As we work to fix health care,
we must also address our nursing shortage,” said Senator Gillibrand.
“These federal dollars would provide training to thousands of health care
workers to ensure our nursing workforce can meet the health care challenges of
the twenty first century. The success of the project will benefit the long-term
maintenance and improvement of health care in a region affected by joblessness
following the downturn in the auto industry.”

manufacturing and other sectors in Western New York experience job reductions
due  to the recession and structural change, the health care sector is
growing in employment and is a major driver of the local economy. Meanwhile,
health care worker shortages persist, notably in nursing, the allied health
occupations.  These shortages could lead to a crisis as the population
ages and older health care workers retire. To address these needs in Erie and
Niagara counties, the coalition has proposed an aggressive strategy to increase
the supply of health care professionals and train workers in the new Health
Information Technology,” said James Finamore, Executive Director of the Buffalo
and Erie County Workforce Investment Board

“This project will address the
requirements for long term care improvements, as well as the need for more
nurses and healthcare professionals. We have had an active group that has
brought together community hospitals, long term care facilities, unions, and
educational providers with our workforce development system to address
significant needs throughout this diverse area. The Erie and Niagara WIBs have
partnered in several recent initiatives, and together we will have a very
comprehensive strategy to focus on healthcare workforce requirements, including
training and skills upgrading,” said David See, Executive Director of the
Niagara County
Workforce Investment Board.

In May, Senator Gillibrand’s
office released a report on New York’s nursing shortage, citing that Western
New York’s current vacancy rate for nurses is approximately 10.6 percent. In 10
years, 7,574 additional nurses will be needed.

The Buffalo and Erie County
Workforce Investment Board requested $5 million in project funding, along with
millions more in leveraged funds from partner organizations. They said this
project has the potential to provide job training for thousands of health care

The Buffalo and Erie County Workforce
Investment Board was established in 2000 under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA)
and is the lead agency for the WIA program in Erie County.  The
organization is applying for this grant on behalf of a collaboration between
six major hospitals, seven educational institutions, a major health care union
and the Niagara County WIB.

Earlier this year, Senator
Gillibrand released a plan to address the nursing shortage, including:

Increasing Nursing Faculty.  Nursing
faculty salary can be as much as 15 percent less than practicing nurses.  The
Nurses’ Higher Education Loan Repayment (HEAL) Act
would establish parity
between nursing faculty and their students by offering full repayment on
graduate degree loan debt assumed by nursing educators. 

Increasing Spots at Nursing Schools.  The Nurse
Education, Expansion and Development Act
would provide grants to nursing
schools to increase the numbers of faculty.

Incentivizing Nurse Practitioners in Underserved

Earlier this year, Senator Gillibrand helped pass President Obama’s Economic
Recovery plan, which included $300 million to the National Health Service Corps
to recruit nurses to work in underserved areas.

Investing in Long Term Development of the Nursing

After flat funding in the previous Administration, Senator Gillibrand is
working to secure additional funding for Nursing Workforce Development (Title
VIII of the Public Health Service Act).

Expanding the Nurse Workforce. 
The Medicare
Graduate Nurses Education Act
would allow hospitals with graduate nursing
education programs to receive Medicare funding.

Senator Gillibrand’s complete plan can be viewed here.