Gambling revenue helps Erie County train low-income residents for high-demand healthcare jobs | Local News

If you want to break into the healthcare field and make less than $25 an hour right now, Erie County has an offer for you.

Under the county’s healthcare careers program, you could get much of your tuition, receive transportation and childcare assistance, and be placed in employment.

“The ECHC program has been an absolute and tremendous success,” county executive senior economic development specialist Zachary Evans said Thursday. “This is directly impacting our community in a positive way, bringing Erie County residents into training programs and into health care professions to help our significant staffing shortages here in the county.”

This program started in 2010 as a federally funded grant program, but the grant program ended last year. To keep it going, the county allocated $1.3 million to the program last fall.

People also read…

But the county underestimated the number of people who would apply. The federal program previously resulted in training 110 residents to become licensed practical nurses per year, so the county believed it had enough money to cover this year, assuming more than double the number of registered applicants. Instead, 485 people have already applied for the program earlier this month. The total this year is expected to top 500, Evans said.

The program doesn’t just support nursing students, though training for licensed practical nurses and registered nurses accounts for the majority of all applicants to the program, Evans said. Candidates can also be people who want to become surgical, medical and physical therapy assistants, laboratory technicians, surgical or radiological technologists, among other professions.

Because the program is so popular, the county legislature on Thursday authorized the lane to approve another $1.4 million to support the program. The money would come from state casino revenue.

The goal of the program is to help remove barriers for low-income residents interested in a career in healthcare while helping to address shortages in the healthcare industry. The county program connects eligible applicants with more than half a dozen local colleges and training providers, most of which offer vocational training and degree programs ranging from seven weeks to two years. Some qualified careers, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, would require more schooling.

Given the interest, the program should fill up quickly. Among the eligibility requirements, applicants must:

• Be a resident of Erie County.

• Have a high school diploma or GED.

• Earn less than $25 per hour.

• Meet individual program admission requirements.

• Complete financial aid applications for other sources of support.

Most colleges offer programs in September and January, although Erie 1 BOCES has a Licensed Practical Nursing program starting in November. Other participating institutions include SUNY Erie Community College, Trocaire College, Villa Maria College, Daemen University, D’Youville University and the University at Buffalo.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the national shortage of long-serving nurses has been attributed to supply not matching demand as more nurses retire or reach the retirement age as the aging population requiring nursing care continues to grow. Stress and turnover, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, have also contributed to shortages, as well as capacity limits in nursing schools.

Comments are closed.