Building a Stronger Health Care Workforce

At the Health Foundation, we truly enjoy highlighting our grantee partners and the amazing work that they do. Here is a spotlight from our 2021 annual report: Connections.

One of the greatest challenges facing health care providers in New York State—and across the country—is addressing workforce shortages. While all sectors of health care have been affected by these shortages, the long-term services and supports industry that serves older adults and people with disabilities continues to face a critical lack of workers. This can lead to reduced care access and quality and more difficult working conditions for overextended care workers, most of whom are women of color. These issues were only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With funding from the Health Foundation, the Health Workforce Collaborative (HWC) has taken on these issues with the goal of strengthening coordination and collaboration in existing workforce development efforts. Through this program, the HWC’s work supports our mid-term goal that community-based organizations are financially sustainable, strong, and working collaboratively with health and other systems. This work also aligns with the key priorities identified by advocates from across New York State—including Health Workforce Collaborative and the Health Foundation—in advocating for New York’s Master Plan for Aging.

The Health Workforce Collaborative believes that without a community-focused infrastructure of health care worker development and support, the trend we are currently experiencing of not being able to care for those in need, especially our most vulnerable populations, will rapidly worsen.

The Health Foundation’s support has helped the Collaborative continue building this statewide infrastructure and further develop a resource called the Health Workforce Hub, a digital platform that brings together key health workforce stakeholders. The Hub offers valuable health workforce development information, tools, and resources, such as a career center, a training center, a networking center, and a marketplace where a host of programs, products, and services are posted for review and engagement by health care employers.

The essential workforce data collected through the project’s efforts will serve to guide coordinated workforce planning and facilitate joint advocacy. The Collaborative is conducting extensive outreach and incorporating existing workforce efforts in western and central New York counties.

“The work speaks for itself. We now have over 100 programs, over 200 educational institutions, and 525 employers at our participants’ fingertips to better develop themselves for the health workforce,” said Richard Merchant, Chief Executive Officer of Health Workforce New York. One career seeker even said, “I was just taking a peek at the website and found exactly what I was looking for!” Thanks to the Appalachian Regional Commission, we are also able to navigate nurses through the system. That’s an impact… We really couldn’t have done any of this without the support of the Health Foundation,” says Richard.