Futuro Health, a California-based nonprofit established by Kaiser Permanente and SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) to address the nation’s allied health worker shortage, today announced it has expanded its educational offerings to prepare frontline health care workers for an expected surge in COVID-19 cases, committing $1 million to launch a new pandemic-readiness program.
Through a collaborative effort by Futuro Health, Kaiser Permanente, SEIU-UHW, Pima Medical Institute and The Education Fund, a new online course Pandemic Readiness for LVN/LPNs became available April 6 beginning in California, with plans to expand beyond the state. According to the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, there are over 100,000 LVNs (also called “licensed practical nurses” in other states) serving the state’s 40 million residents. Futuro Health will waive all fees and tuition for these practitioners.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement of the anticipated need of 50,000 new beds in repurposed, pop-up and existing facilities will create a critical need for workers to provide care. To meet the magnitude of this workforce demand, the Governor recently announced plans to change scope of practice restrictions to increase doctors and nurses’ capacity, allowing other care team members to expand their typical scope of care. This will increase demand for LVNs/LPNs, respiratory therapists, medical assistants and certified nursing assistants.
“California will need licensed vocational nurses equipped with the right training to help patients through this pandemic,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, senior vice president and chief health officer for Kaiser Permanente. “LVNs and LPNs will have a big role to play, not only in hospitals but also in alternate care facilities and non-hospital settings.”
The five-chapter pandemic readiness course, designed by Pima Medical Institute and conducted entirely online, will take LVNs/LPNs approximately six hours to complete. The chapters cover topics including infection control techniques, ventilator patient care, disease progression, and improving personal resiliency.
Designed to be self-paced and available online, the course can help prepare LVNs/LPNs to perform additional functions on the care team in preparation for a temporary expansion in their scope of work.
“The magnitude of the crisis demands that we come up with solutions of similar scale,” said Fred Freeman, CEO of Pima Medical Institute. “We are pleased to contribute our curriculum expertise to the nation’s crisis.”
Futuro Health will offer digital badges upon successful completion of online coursework and accompanying competency assessments. The course augments and fortifies existing skillsets of LVNs/LPNs amidst the COVID-19 environment, especially for those entities that may not have the resources to create their own training programs to upskill staff.
“This program can help equip frontline workers with the skills to help meet the needs of this unprecedented crisis,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, CEO of Futuro Health. “We hope employers will help spread the word among their workforce about this training.”