To help meet the increased demand for highly-trained nurses and essential healthcare workers in medically-underserved areas like South Los Angeles, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH) announced it has received a half million dollar grant from Bank of America to expand its healthcare worker career programs.
The two-year grant – the largest philanthropic gift Bank of America has provided to a healthcare organization in South Los Angeles – will enable MLKCH to train and hire more than 200 new health care professionals including nurse residents, nurse fellows and college health scholars.
“This is a critical contribution to building the kind of healthcare workforce that is needed in socially and economically vulnerable communities,” said Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital. “This gift will help our hospital recruit, retain and develop high-quality nurses and other essential healthcare workers in a high-need area.”
The lack of access to high-quality healthcare providers is a key driver of acute health disparities in the nation. Significant parts of South Los Angeles are designated as Medically Underserved and Healthcare Professional Shortage areas by the Healthcare Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). In 2017, a study commissioned by the hospital found the community had ten times fewer doctors than more affluent areas.
The grant is part of Bank of America’s focus on critical needs like healthcare and workforce development, especially for local communities of color disproportionately impacted economically and medically by the pandemic.
“As we consider the challenges that our communities are facing – from the health crisis brought on by the coronavirus to the need for progress on racial equality and economic opportunity, supporting workforce development in the healthcare sector is a relevant and timely way we can help make a lasting positive impact,” said Raul Anaya, Los Angeles market president for Bank of America. “This grant can help MLK Jr. Community Hospital strengthen the pipeline of local talent to qualified medical professional roles where it can address the greatest needs.”
Studies have shown that health care workers are more likely to stay in the area where they train. To help train health care workers, the bank’s grant will be used to support a number of MLKCH’s healthcare workforce development programs, including the Nurse Residency and Fellowship Program, a critical care two-year training program for recent nursing school graduates and advanced training for experienced nurses, and will result in the hiring of 46 locally-sourced registered nurses through the program.
The grant will also support MLKCH’s partnership with COPE Scholars, a program that brings college students from South Los Angeles into the hospital to shadow and train with healthcare professionals. Since the program’s inception in 2019, more than 100 students have been trained, 69% of whom are from South Los Angeles and 72% of whom are now college graduates pursuing a degree in healthcare. As a part of the support from bank of America, MLKCH will continue to expand COPE Scholars, training 160 new COPE Scholars during the grant period.