Omaha, Nebraska – To expand the capacity of community health centers to meet the anticipated increase in demand for care, the RCHN Community Health Foundation (RCHN CHF) has awarded $2 million in grants to recruit, train and retain health center workers such as medical assistants, receptionists, care managers, and health system navigators. These workers are typically a patient’s first and primary connection to their health care provider and essential to a health center’s operations.

OneWorld Community Health Centers, which serves 23,000 patients at eight sites in Omaha, is one of only five federally qualified community health centers (CHCs) around the country to receive a RCHN CHF worker training grant this year. The $189,343 award will allow OneWorld to create a learning academy to improve the skills of entry-level health care workers who serve a diverse community including a large number of Hispanic patients. To help retain current staff, OneWorld will develop a leadership program to enhance skills, improve competency and career opportunities. The Center will work in collaboration with the University of Nebraska to evaluate and adapt the program to ensure its success.

“We are thrilled to receive this award that will help us better serve the people in our community,” said Andrea Skolkin, Chief Executive Officer of OneWorld. “Not only will this project lead to improved care, it will also enable us to give people in our community an opportunity to develop exciting health care careers.” In fact, OneWorld’s staff has more than tripled in the last eight years.

Community health centers such as OneWorld are located in underserved communities where challenges to recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce often include a limited labor pool, lack of vocational training, and language and cultural barriers. Yet, our nation relies on community health centers to provide care to more than 22 million people each year, and that number is expected to increase dramatically when the Affordable Care Act takes full effect in 2014.

“Our ability to meet a greater demand for health care falls squarely on our system’s ability to increase capacity,” said Julio Bellber, President and CEO of RCHN CHF. “That means we must prepare our nation’s 1,200 community health centers to recruit, train, and retain workers who can meet increased patient care needs.”

To this end, RCHN CHF awarded $1 million in worker training grants to five health centers in 2012, with a second million to five more health centers this year. In addition to OneWorld, the 2013 RCHN CHF workforce initiative grant recipients are:

  • CareSouth Carolina, Hartsville, South Carolina – $199,308
  • El Rio Community Health Center, Tucson, Arizona – $198,467
  • Finger Lakes Community Health, Penn Yan, New York – $200,000
  • Salud Family Health Centers, Fort Lupton, Colorado – $200,000

Established in 1970, OneWorld Community Health Centers, in partnership with the community, provides culturally respectful, quality health care with special attention to the underserved. OneWorld is a federally qualified health center (FQHC) and provides comprehensive primary health care, dental and mental health/substance abuse services to persons.

The RCHN Community Health Foundation is a not-for-profit operating foundation established to support community health centers through strategic investment, outreach, education, and cutting-edge health policy research. The only foundation in the U.S. dedicated solely to community health centers, RCHN CHF builds on a long-standing commitment to providing accessible, high-quality, community-based healthcare services for underserved and medically vulnerable populations.