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 State Economic Development Director Showcases Investments in Health Care Training at Lewis & Clark Community College

Over $309,000 in Federal Stimulus Funds Directed to L&C to Help Combat Shortage of Skilled Nurses in the State Workforce

GODFREY, IL- Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Warren Ribley visited Lewis & Clark Community College's (L&C) Godfrey campus today to announce a $309,441 workforce grant to train workers in the health care sector. More than $5.3 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars is being targeted by DCEO's Office of Employment and Training to fund programs statewide, such as the one at Lewis and Clark. The statewide grant program will result in training more than 4,200 health care professionals statewide in programs as varied as electronic medical records conversion, online and weekend nurse training, and training RNs to teach more nurses.

�By giving LPNs the opportunity to move upward in their careers, we are also raising their ability to better support their families,� said Director Ribley.  �Workers in Illinois deserve good-paying jobs, and citizens who need treatment deserve the best-trained medical professionals.  By targeting our federal workforce dollars into health care � one of the fastest-growing jobs sectors � we are ensuring both in the Metro East.�

L&C's grant has been used to establish a Registered Nurse Bridge program that helps students who have achieved their licensed practical nurse (LPN) certificate to complete their Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). After only one-year of this �bridge� program, students graduate as registered nurses (RN).

�With the nation facing a shortage of nurses, this grant is allowing Lewis and Clark another opportunity to increase the number of nurses in the workforce,� Dean of Health Science Donna Meyer of L&C said. �Lewis and Clark is doing everything we can � from expanding facilities to increase the size of our nursing program to marketing the field of nursing as an excellent career choice � to address the nursing shortage. Nursing is a profession that offers a tremendous amount of employment opportunities right now, which also means that this grant-funded program is helping us put our community residents to work.�

L&C currently has 16 students enrolled in the program. These students come from an array of nursing services including: skilled nursing units, acute medical, home health, assisted living, physician office and mental health.

Major components of this project include a support system to ensure the success of ADN students in their prerequisite and nursing courses, resulting in an increased success rate of 90% up from 67%, and also the reassignment of one of the college's full-time nursing faculty as a career specialist job coach to help the LPNs transition.

�The great thing about this program is that it reinvests dollars into two of our most valuable assets, our workforce and our students,� State Senator Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville) said.  �Anytime a program exists that not only expands employment opportunities to residents, but also aids in upward mobility, that is obviously a positive for everyone involved.� 

�The Registered Nurse Bridge program not only provides opportunities for recruitment into the healthcare field, but will greatly enhance the nursing program at Lewis and Clark.  It is imperative that we invest in programs that encourage workforce expansion in order to open doors for individuals in our community,� said State Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville).
Illinois provided $10 million in sector-based awards through ARRA to improve the availability of qualified and skilled workers in key employment sectors, including healthcare, manufacturing, transportation/distribution/logistics, information technology, and green energy. These sector-based grants build on the state�s efforts to address critical workforce shortages in high-growth industries of the state and further Governor Quinn�s efforts to prepare a workforce that�s ready to meet the demands of a 21st century economy.

DCEO's Office of Employment & Training is committed to encouraging statewide economic development by cultivating a well-trained workforce. To accomplish this goal, the Office identifies youth, adults and dislocated workers who are eligible for assistance under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), assesses their employability skills and provides training as appropriate for identified high-growth sectors. Programs and services are provided statewide while maintaining a focus on the economic needs of each region.