Feb 05, 2013

Saint Thomas Grant To Benefit Columbia State

The Saint Thomas Heart Chest Pain Network and the Saint Thomas Stroke Network were recently awarded a three year, $600,000 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The grant calls for increased recruitment and retention of healthcare workers in rural areas. The Saint Thomas Heart Chest Pain Network and the Saint Thomas Stroke Network are part of Saint Thomas Health Services and operate in conjunction with regional facilities to improve processes that assess, diagnose, and treat acute coronary syndrome and stroke.

The primary objective of this grant is to develop and promote innovative educational strategies to motivate healthcare students to seek employment in rural communities. The grant supports the U.S. Department of Health's Healthy People 2020 initiative and the Tennessee Department of Health's 2006 directive that encourages partnerships that ensure a diverse, adequate and competent workforce that supports the public health system.

As part of the grant's implementation, students in Health Sciences programs at Columbia State Community College will be placed on clinical rotations in rural health facilities, many of which are members of the Saint Thomas Heart Chest Pain Network and the Saint Thomas Stroke Network. The grant will serve eight counties in Tennessee, including Hickman, Decatur, Lawrence, Hardin, Maury, Wayne, Perry and Lewis.

"Rural areas, especially the eight counties targeted through this grant, sometimes find it challenging to staff healthcare positions such as nurses and emergency medical services," says Kae Fleming, Dean for Health Sciences at Columbia State Community College. "This partnership with Saint Thomas Health Services is a win-win; students are able to simultaneously accomplish clinical objectives and develop an increased awareness of opportunities for employment post-graduation."

In addition, Columbia State is equipped with broadband capabilities in each of their satellite campuses and in several high schools throughout the region, which will provide a "virtual classroom" for students. Through the interactive classroom, instructors as well as physicians and nurses are able to broadcast lectures from a main location and facilitate a live question and answer forum.

"Our broadband capabilities will provide greater access to healthcare education for students from around the region," added Fleming. "These capabilities also allow Saint Thomas's healthcare professionals to reach a larger base of students and the community as a whole with life saving programs about chest pain, stroke, heart failure and other medical issues."

"We are grateful and pleased to be awarded this grant from HRSA," said Ranee Curtis, Director of the Saint Thomas Heart Chest Pain Network and the Saint Thomas Stroke Network. "The grant allows us to provide greater healthcare access to rural populations across Tennessee by retaining and recruiting top-notch allied health workers."

The grant also allocates dollars for innovative strategies and equipment that serve in the medical learning process. Saint Thomas has purchased a SimMan®, a patient simulator, which acts as a real patient with vital signs and allows patients for greater hands-on training.

Other opportunities for students include interactive events, such as health fairs, that are outside the classroom and their normal rotations.

In addition to Columbia State, other partners for the grant include the Hickman County Health Department, which also serves Perry and Lewis Counties, and the Lawrence County EMS. All partner organizations will have one member to serve on the grant's Advisory Board and will serve in this role during the three year duration of the grant.

For more information about the Saint Thomas Heart Chest Pain Network and the Saint Thomas Stroke Network, please visit www.sths.com/chestpain.

Saint Thomas Health Services is a faith-based ministry with more than 6,500 associates serving Middle Tennessee. Saint Thomas Health Services' regional health system consists of five hospitals - Baptist and Saint Thomas Hospitals and The Center for Spinal Surgery in Nashville, Middle Tennessee Medical Center in Murfreesboro and Hickman Community Hospital in Centerville - and a comprehensive network of affiliated joint ventures in diagnostics, cardiac services and ambulatory surgery as well as medical practices, the Center for Spinal Surgery, clinics and rehabilitation facilities. STHS is a member of Ascension Health, a Catholic organization that is the largest not-for-profit health system in the United States. For more information, visit www.sths.com.

In 2007, Saint Thomas Health Services launched Saint Thomas Heart, a combined entity that utilizes all of Saint Thomas Health Services' heart services under focused leadership. The physicians of Mid-State Cardiology, with offices on the Baptist Hospital campus, and The Heart Group, located on the Saint Thomas Hospital campus, now practice under the umbrella of Saint Thomas Heart. This combined group of 60 heart specialists sees more than 130,000 heart patients in a 69-county region that stretches throughout Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky in more than 30 clinics.