CareSouth Carolina, Inc. (Hartsville, South Carolina).

PROJECT NAME: Health Center Workforce Entry-Level Recruitment and Retention Models 2012

Project Overview:

The Patient- Centered Care Team, a defined team that addresses the needs of a defined patient panel, is the standard mechanism for providing services at CareSouth Carolina (“CSC”), Over time, as a result of patient demand, EHR implementation, the adoption of evidenced-based office practice redesigns like Advanced Access, Patient Centered Medical Home and outside economic factors, these teams have become increasingly dependent on entry-level positions such as front office staff and the fully integrated outreach and case management services. For CSC, the functions of the team are well established. Recruitment, retention, cross- training and optimizing team member roles have been more challenging. Funding from the RCHN Community Health Foundation will be used to generate the proper supply in the market place for the community health worker and certified medical assistant positions to improve and galvanize their place in the patient-centered care team. In addition, and in the community health center setting, CSC will dramatically improve its operations to recognize the needs of working adults and improve access to and success in skill building for its entry level workforce, including cross training, work-based learning, mentoring, “train your own,” and improved career ladders.

Project Objectives :

  • Implementation of an accelerated CSC workforce development strategy that improves entry-level workforce capabilities and institutionalizes the Patient Centered Care Team model as the cornerstone of the organization’s delivery of services.
    • Develop/Accelerate training related to patient activation, motivational interviewing, etc.:
    • Develop and implement a team-based incentive structure.
    • Implement career ladders for all entry level positions.
    • Formalize a mentoring/job coaching program.
    • Build internal health center capacity in human resources to help “train our own”.
    • Develop a work based learning program that will allow current staff to achieve increased training and licensure.
  • In partnership with NorthEastern Technical College, Implement a Certified Medical Assistant higher education program that contributes to entry-level workforce enhancement at the CHC, as an integral part of the Patient Centered Care Team, and to the community.
  • Implementation of a certified Community Health Worker curriculum and program at the local level in partnership with Northeastern Technical College that contributes to entry-level workforce enhancement at the CHC, as an integral part of the Patient Centered Care Team, and to the community.

Key Grant Activities:

CareSouth Carolina’s project, “Aligning Workforce and Patient Care,” helped the health center’s leadership create a workplace culture that will benefit the organization and the communities they serve.  The health center established a partnership with a local educational institution to improve and develop the skills of existing staff and help recruit new employees. As part of the project, CareSouth Carolina:

  • Accelerated its training program for entry level workforce employees, placing a stronger emphasis on cross-training.
  • Developed new competence evaluations for all positions, and now include entry-level and lower-tier staff such as Medical Records, Front Office and Keyer—an employee who codes encounters for billing purposes—positions.
  • Built the capacity in the human resources department to conduct in-house trainings facilitated by staff, directors and managers.
  • Worked with Northeastern Technical College to develop a work-based learning program that will allow current CareSouth staff to obtain relevant training, certification and licensure.

CareSouth Carolina’s Community Health Worker (CHW) and Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) programs officially started in fall 2013, with eight students.  The second CHW course began in January 2014 with 16 students.  The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) program started on October 2, 2013.

Project Outcomes:

  • CareSouth invested in a computer assessment and testing program to facilitate evaluation of employee skills and determine training needs.
  • Developed career-ladders that align personnel roles along a continuum of patient needs that include stepping stones for employees to advance.
  • Implemented mentoring system so new employees can get a feel for their new job and get immediate feedback from their assigned mentors.
  • Partnered with Northeastern Technical College (NETC) to implement a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) program and a Community Health Worker (CHW) program.
  • 24 students initially enrolled in the CHW & CMA programs resulting in three graduating classes as of June, 2014.

About the Grantee: 

CareSouth Carolina is a private, non-profit community health center delivering patient-centered health and life care services to people in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina since 1980. In 2011, CareSouth Carolina served over 36,000 patients, 49% of whom had no health insurance. With more than 280 employees, CareSouth Carolina operates primary care centers in Bennettsville, Bishopville, Chesterfield, Cheraw, Hartsville, Lake View, McColl, and Society Hill. Services provided include family practice, pediatrics, geriatrics, social services, clinical counseling, laboratory, X-Ray and a pharmacy. CareSouth Carolina has been recognized as a national model of success in the delivery of health services to people in need in rural communities.