Nearly a half million dollars from the Delta Regional Authority will help fund a new initiative led by the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership (ARHP) to train new medical workers in underserved areas of the state.

The ARHP health workforce initiative will be funded in late March 2024 with $450,000 from the DRA to support the training of emergency medical service staff at various career stages.

“In rural Arkansas, we have to be strategic in how we recruit and retain the health workforce. We realized the only real way to get ahead of this seemingly never-ending curve was to grow our own local health workforce,” said Mellie Boagni, ARHP Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer. “We needed a two-prong approach, one that reached younger kids before they decided on a career and also supported individuals already within the healthcare field.”

“We had to be innovative and design initiatives that addressed practical needs in our communities, including gaps in knowledge related to health careers, college readiness, transportation, distance to training, cost of education, and training modalities. In the process, we have launched scholarship programs, a new training academy for community health workers, a health workforce mobile unit, a health careers website, and more. The opportunities for partnership and innovation are truly endless. It is thrilling to see rural Arkansas create models that are reaching rural communities across the state and country,” Boagni said.

The DRA funds will support the Arkansas Delta Advance: Emergency Medical Services Training Initiative. The new two-year program will offer entry-level training opportunities (EMT) and more advanced training (paramedic and community paramedic) to meet a range of student and workforce needs in the region.

Efforts will provide one-on-one and financial support, including tuition, books, fees, and supplies, to 26 rural residents desiring to pursue or advance in an EMS career with demonstrated financial barriers to training. The project partners with two of the largest EMS providers in the region, Pafford Medical Services & ProMed Ambulance.

“In reaching out to local EMS agencies, we discovered that there was a huge lack of EMS staff across the Southeast Arkansas Delta. In fact, EMS agencies were short nearly 200 emergency medical technicians (EMT) and paramedics for the region. Perhaps just as troubling, there were few EMS training programs in Arkansas with decreasing enrollment,” said Boagni.

For more information about the ARHP workforce programs, visit www.arruralhealth.org and click on health workforce under program initiatives.

The Arkansas Rural Health Partnership is a non-profit healthcare organization headquartered in Lake Village, Arkansas. ARHP members currently include 18 rural hospitals, 2 federally qualified health centers, and 3 medical teaching institutions. Initiatives aim to improve the health and wellness of rural residents, build a health workforce pipeline, sustain rural hospitals, and strengthen rural economies.



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