Coalition receives grant to transform health care

Published 10:53pm Saturday, April 12, 2014

BIRMINGHAM — Alabama is among the growing number of states to create partnerships designed to improve the overall health of citizens. 

In October 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a historic report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.” The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action launched a month later to help move the recommendations forward at national, state, and local levels. Over the last three years, advocates across the country began working to implement the IOM recommendations, which constitute a blueprint for ensuring all Americans get high-quality, cost-effective care when and where they need it.

These efforts are coordinated through the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The Alabama Health Action Coalition (AL-HAC) designated in February 2012 accomplishes its work through volunteers and in-kind services. Leaders are Kathleen A. Ladner, Ph.D., RN, FACHE, UAB School of Nursing, Carol J. Ratcliffe, DNP, RN, FACHE, Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, Samford University, Jane Yarbrough, BSN, RN, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, and Lacy Gibson, BA, Alabama Hospital Association (AlaHA).

Both Ladner and Ratcliffe said they are pleased with the primary partners, which include the nursing community of Alabama, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, AlaHA, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama (MASA), and AARP Alabama. The diverse stakeholders of the AL-HAC have grown and extend beyond the primary partners to include policy makers, academia, and business communities.

“Giving back to the community is one of our core values, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is proud to partner with the Alabama Health Action Coalition,” said Dr. Dow Briggs, Senior Vice President of Business Operations, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. “We appreciate the opportunity to support our state’s nursing profession along with the many other health care initiatives that provide access to quality medical care for all Alabamians.”

The AL-HAC is one of 30 state coalitions to receive grant funding as part of the $4.5 million State Implementation Program (SIP) helping states prepare the nursing profession to address our nation’s most pressing health care challenges — access, quality, and cost.

The SIP provides two-year grants up to $150,000 to state-based Action Coalitions that have developed or made substantial progress toward implementing the IOM recommendations. States had to obtain matching funds to receive their grants. For the AL-HAC, a grassroots effort was conducted to raise the funds.

“Nursing, medicine, health care, and businesses from all over Alabama were among those that responded quickly and generously to the call for donations, said Ladner and Ratcliffe,” Michael Flanagan, MD, President of MASA said, “The better the care coordination, the better our outcomes will be, and the team-based approach is the best one for providing comprehensive care to patients. As the largest physicians’ organization in Alabama, we are proud to support efforts to strengthen the health care team and improve outcomes for patients.”

Ratcliffe said the partnerships created were crucial to the group’s early success.

“The diverse leadership and partnership of the AL-HAC and our focus on meaningful outcomes that improve care were key factors in Alabama being selected,” Ratcliffe said.

Through it all, though, the main focus, Ladner said, is helping nurses.

“Our primary focus in the next year is to implement a seamless transition for nurses to achieve a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN),” Ladner said. “This initiative is known as the 80/20.”

The recommendation is to increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020 preparing a workforce to meet the demands of a diverse population across the lifespan. Alabama is one of many states working toward this goal.

J. Michael Horsley, FACHE, President of AlaHA, said, “In reforming the health care delivery system, a key component is having a well-trained workforce with the skills needed to provide effective and efficient care. Alabama’s hospitals are pleased to be a part of this important initiative.”

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