SCC part of grant to expand health care education to more low-income Nebraskans

Southeast Community College is partnering with three other Nebraska community colleges in a near-$12 million grant that will enable more low-income Nebraskans to have greater access to health education.

Central Community College was awarded an $11,892,355 Health Profession Opportunity Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families. Mid-Plains and Northeast community colleges are joining SCC and CCC in the partnership.

CCC Grants Manager Marni Danhauer said the new grant expands on the $9.5 million Health Profession Opportunity Grant awarded to CCC in 2010 to begin Project HELP (Health Education Laddering Program).

"The crux of both programs is to educate Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients and other low-income individuals for health care careers that are in demand and pay well," she said.

Danhauer said that the new grant is shifting Project HELP's focus from short-term to long-term training. "We're focusing on getting individuals into associate of applied science degrees because these will lead to those better-paying jobs."

The new five-year goal is to enroll 1,445 participants with 94.5 percent completing basic skills training and 64 percent obtaining employment in a health care occupation. Another goal is for participants attain at least 1,043 degrees, diplomas or industry-recognized credentials.

In order to help them succeed, students will not only receive tuition assistance, but also supportive services such as tutoring, transportation assistance and career placement. The grant also will serve more Nebraskans thanks to the addition of SCC, Mid-Plains and Northeast.

"Rather than duplicating our health care programs, we're (the four community colleges) collaborating to share our existing programs," said Dr. Marcie Kemnitz, dean of health sciences at CCC.

Danhauer said an exciting and innovative example is SCC's Surgical Technology program. A partnership has allowed CCC students to complete much of the degree requirements through online classes and at clinicals held in local communities. Labs, however, had to be completed at SCC. This situation was challenging for SCC staff trying to travel to all the clinical sites in the state and for students who had to drive to Lincoln.

"The farther out a student lived, the harder it was," Danhauer said. "The new grant will establish satellite locations in the other three community college areas."

Providing a place for the labs will be Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk and Great Plains Health in North Platte.

"Now students will have to travel to Southeast only to graduate," Danhauer said.

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For more information contact:
Stu Osterthun
Administrative Director of Public Information and Marketing
402-323-3401
sosterthun@southeast.edu