News release
Public Information Office  SLU 10880   Hammond, LA 70402   phone: 985-549-2341   fax: 985-549-2061 Spring 2004 news releases Public Information home News archive

Contact: Angey Saucier
Date: 2/3/04
      HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences has received a $34,000 grant from the Louisiana Rural Health Association to form a community health network to address shortages of nurses and heath care professionals in Tangipahoa and Washington parishes.
      Known as the Better Health for the Delta Community Encourager Grant, the funds will be used through Aug. 31 to develop models for recruitment and retention of health care professionals and develop ongoing community partnerships with area hospitals, district nurses associations and technical colleges. The college will work closely with the Louisiana Nursing Supply and Demand Commission and its chairperson Joe Ann Clark.
      “We are hoping to identify the extent and severity of the shortage of nurses and other health care providers in their respective parishes, factors that have attributed to the shortage, and the impact of shortages on healthcare and the economy,” said Donnie Booth, author of the grant and dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “It is essential that we develop a network of leaders that will function on an ongoing basis to deal with the current shortages and develop strategies to prevent recurrences.”
      Booth said the grant includes many components that will move the recruitment and retention model into reality. One of the first will be to gather information about the types of health care agencies that exist, the number of workers employed, and shortages they may have or anticipate. Possible solutions will then be explored. A “community encourager” will then be employed to engage and educate the community on the health industry’s concerns through a community network/coalition. 
      Like other states, Louisiana is experiencing a critical shortage of qualified health care workers. Booth points to many factors impacting the nursing shortage, including an aging and shrinking workforce, a greater demand for more health care services, and employee mobility. As far as new graduates, Booth fears more may leave the state, enticed by lucrative jobs elsewhere. She said there is also a shortage of nurse educators since more graduate students are choosing nurse practitioner and nurse anesthetist tracts.
      “It is imperative that health professionals address the issues of recruitment and retention,” said Booth. “This grant is a unique way to partner with the community to address these issues and help meet the health care needs of our state.”