Alaska receives a $9.7M grant to improve access to health care

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 7:51 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - New jobs and career paths are being created in the health care field to provide more access to public health for Alaskans, as a result of the Good Jobs Challenge Grant.

Alaska Primary Care Association was one of 32 national recipients — out of over 500 applicants — to be awarded $9.7 million, focused on meeting the needs of worker shortages in the health care system.

Alaska Hospital and Healthcare Association President Jared Kosin said that the state has a significant hole in the workforce. With an average of 6,300 openings each year, the goal will be to use grant funding to focus on apprenticeship, hiring, and retention for all healthcare-related fields, which include hospitals, long-term care, and mental health. Kosin said that this will be the state’s largest effort to find solutions for long-standing workforce challenges.

“That means developing a pipeline for more people to come into the profession,” Kosin said. “It creates opportunities to advance them in their profession and then hopefully opportunities to retain them.”

Kosin says that the COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the health care issue, and they continue to see more pressure following that — so it’s crucial to come up with creative ideas. In the past, workers had been recruited from the Lower 48 in an attempt to narrow the gap. However, the state saw difficulties in retaining workers making it hard to keep up with demand.

“This is another way for us to connect with younger people that may not be going to college, may not be taking that next step for education and giving them an avenue, not only to get a good job but to advance within that job,” Kosin said.

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