FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2016
Jessica Smith, CCHN
(303) 861-5165 ext. 242
Primary Health Care Safety Net Clinical Support Staff Receive Loan Repayment Awards from Kaiser Permanente and CCHN
DENVER – Twenty-two primary health care safety-net clinical support staff have been selected in 2016 to receive a total of $175,000 in educational loan repayment funding from Kaiser Permanente Colorado through the Preparing the Safety-Net for the Future of Health Care grant administered by Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN). This initiative works to expand and modernize Colorado’s safety-net workforce through loan repayment opportunities and professional development trainings. This partnership is one way Community Health Centers are working to address health care workforce shortages and to support homegrown health care careers.
The 22 loan repayment awardees live and work throughout Colorado. They include medical assistants, dental assistants, registered nurses, dental hygienists, technicians, and licensed practical nurses that play essential roles in delivering quality care and implementing health care reform initiatives. The awardees will receive loan repayment in exchange for a one-year service commitment to their clinics. Safety-net clinics include community health centers, rural health clinics, and community-funded safety-net clinics, all of which provide care in medically underserved areas and to medically underserved populations of Colorado.
Clinical support staff usually do not qualify for the national and state-level loan repayment programs available to clinical providers at safety-net clinics located in health professions shortage areas, and this program helps to close that gap. Clinical support staff play essential roles in team-based care, and safety-net clinics will continue to benefit immensely from retaining these employees. The impact of this program on awardees’ career paths, personal lives, future educational pursuits, and dedication to their clinics is significant.
“I am already happy working at Caritas, and it is like a dream that I am being awarded with my school loan repayment. I feel like I need to pay back what I am getting. I will do my best every day and will keep treating my patients like they are family members,” said Laura Zubia, Medical Assistant at Sisters of Charity Caritas Clinic in Denver, CO and one of the 2016 awardees.
CCHN was funded by Kaiser Permanente Colorado to administer an annual loan repayment program for clinical support staff as part of the Preparing the Safety-Net for the Future of Health Care grant, launched in October 2013. In addition to the employees who work for the Community Health Centers that are members of CCHN, employees of Colorado Rural Health Centers and community-funded clinics that are members of ClinicNET were also eligible to apply. The workforce goals of the initiative as a whole are to:
1) improve retention of health professionals who care for underserved Coloradans, and
2) provide training development webinars for entry-level and mid-level staff.
In 2016, CCHN awarded 22 primary health care clinical support staff with loan repayment funds through the third and final application cycle of the Kaiser Permanente Educational Loan Repayment for Safety Net Clinical Support Staff Program. Over the course of the three-year loan repayment program, a total of 74 outstanding clinical support staff employees from safety-net clinics across Colorado have been awarded loan repayment for educational debt incurred during their health professional training. Applicants were eligible to receive up to $10,000 in loan repayment, dependent on their completed years of service at their place of employment, and loan repayment awards were made using a tiered approach based on length of employment. This year is the third and final year of the highly successful program.
On behalf of all loan repayment awardees past and present, our partners at Colorado Rural Health Center and ClinicNET, and the safety-net clinics who tirelessly serve Colorado’s most underserved and vulnerable populations, CCHN thanks Kaiser Permanente for generously providing the funding and support to make this three-year loan repayment program possible. Due to the tremendous success of this loan repayment program, measured by the impact it has had on awardees’ careers, future educational pursuits, and personal lives, as well as the impact it has had on employer safety-net clinics’ efforts to retain high-performing clinical support staff, CCHN is actively seeking alternative sources of funding to continue offering loan repayment to outstanding support staff at safety-net clinics in Colorado. Organizations interested in partnering with CCHN to develop a loan repayment program for which clinical support staff employees are the primary beneficiaries should reach out to Angela Rose, Health Center Workforce Specialist.
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For more information, please contact Jessica Smith at (303) 861-5165, Ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Colorado Community Health Network
The Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN) is the unified voice for Colorado’s 20 Community Health Centers (CHCs) and their patients. CHCs provide a health care home to almost 650,000 of their community members – more than one in eight people in Colorado – from 61 of the state’s 64 counties. Without CHCs, hundreds of thousands of Colorado’s low-income families and individuals would have no regular source of health care. CCHN’s mission is to increase access to high quality health care for people in need in Colorado. For more information about CCHN, please visit www.cchn.org.
About Kaiser Permanente Colorado
Kaiser Permanente Colorado is the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, working to improve the lives and health of all Coloradans for 47 years. We are comprised of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado and the Colorado Permanente Medical Group—one of the state’s largest medical groups with more than 1,100 physicians. We provide comprehensive care for our 675,000 Kaiser Permanente Colorado members through 30 medical offices across the state—from Pueblo to Greeley and now in the mountains in Summit and Eagle counties. We are also committed to our social mission and in 2015, proudly directed more than $124 million to community benefit programs to improve the health of all Coloradans. For more Kaiser Permanente news, visit kp.org/share or follow us @kpcolorado or like us facebook.com/kpcolorado.