Schumer Details Over $12 Million He Just Secured To Train Next Gen Of Healthcare Workers At OCC; Funding Will Help Address Local Medical Staff Shortages And Expand Lifesaving Healthcare Services In Syracuse  

Senator Highlights Key Boosts He Secured In The Just Passed End-Of-Year Spending Bill To Increase Residency Slots, Boost Mental Health Programs, And More

Schumer: Fed $$$ On The Way To CNY Will Give Local Health Systems The Shot In The Arm They Need To Expand Healthcare Services, Train CNY Residents And Fill Those Good Paying & Badly-Needed Jobs!

Standing at Onondaga Community College, flanked by doctors and healthcare professionals, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today revealed that he has secured over $12 million to boost hospitals and health providers across Central New York, including a game changing investment in OCC to help train the next generation of health workers and expand programs to help address local staffing shortages. This new facility will help bolster the OCC School of Health’s expansion as it prepares to launch new programs for a variety of high demand healthcare career paths, which they project will nearly double the current enrollment in health programs. The senator said this funding will work hand in hand with additional provisions included in the end-of-year spending bill to boost nursing programs and residency slots– helping to expand healthcare infrastructure in Syracuse and across CNY, while simultaneously ensuring residents have access to the training they need to fill these good paying, in-demand jobs.

“This funding to expand healthcare across Central New York and help train the next generation of nurses and technicians here at Onondaga Community College is just what the doctor ordered! This will give our region the shot in the arm it needs to start addressing the shortages in healthcare workers we are seeing in too many of hospitals across the country, while simultaneously helping residents get good paying jobs boosting their community,” said Senator Schumer. “The $2 million I just secured for OCC will allow the college to build a state of the art healthcare and education training center to expand the programs they offer from skilled nursing to surgery to physical therapy giving students the technical skills they need to enter the local workforce. Syracuse was hit especially hard by the pandemic, and it showed us how critical it is that we invest in healthcare locally. I am proud to deliver this over $12 million investment in future of health for all of Central New York.”

Schumer explained that, of the $12 million in total funding, $2 million will go to OCC to create a state-of-the-art hospital simulation education and training center to address a critical shortage of health care workers and train the next generation of health care practitioners, technicians, and support staff. Specifically, the funds will be used to renovate and equip simulation rooms with high quality audiovisual and hyflex instructional capabilities to support hands-on learning, virtual learning and virtual reality, adjacent control rooms, private debriefing rooms, fully equipped patient rooms, simulated drug dispensary, maternal and infant care and delivery room, critical care, and more to address the diverse needs of skills in demand locally. This will support OCC’s School of Health for multiple programs and training including nursing pathways, surgical technology, physical therapist assistant, health information technology, and other hospital positions. These new state of the art facilities are especially critical as OCC prepares to launch a variety of new programs for students including programs to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, EMT, Home Health Aide, and Pharmacy Technician. Altogether, OCC projects new programming will enroll up to 280 new enrollees, on top of the over 500 currents students, an increase of over 50%. This builds on the $5 million in federal funding Schumer delivered earlier this year for OCC to lead a coalition of ten Upstate community colleges to expand healthcare education programs through the Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants Program.

Schumer said that this is a major boost for the region, as it will help support affordable and accessible entry into these high paying, in-demand jobs need in Syracuse and Central New York. The health care industry was identified by New York State Department of Labor as a priority industry sector for the Central New York region due to the number of individuals employed, job growth, projected job growth and wages.  It is the second largest industry in Central New York and is projected to grow by 28% by 2028. 

Currently, however, Schumer said there are not enough nurses to help fill these in demand jobs in CNY. According to recent reports, but of 1,000 job openings at SUNY Upstate Medical University 600 are nursing positions. Schumer said that this new project at OCC will continue their long partnership with SUNY Upstate Medical in training of nurses and other professions with this state-of-the-art hospital simulation education and training center, helping create a direct pipeline to bolster healthcare locally.

OCC President Dr. Warren M. Hilton said, “This generous federal support will allow Onondaga Community College to deliver culturally relevant, technology-supported education and training in a wide range of direct patient healthcare disciplines to prepare workers to fill critical needs in our community,” said Dr. Warren M. Hilton, OCC President.  “Once again, Senator Schumer has demonstrated that he understands the transformative power of education to improve people’s lives. We appreciate Senator Schumer’s continued support of Onondaga Community College.”

Schumer also highlighted at the event how other provisions he fought for in the just passed omnibus spending package will help address local staffing shortages as well. Following up on the historic 1,000 new GME positions funded in last year’s Omnibus, Senator Schumer won an additional 200 GME slots in this year’s deal. These positions offer federal funds to train new doctors during residency and support nursing school programs. About half of these new positions train psychiatrists, a specialty with one of the largest shortfalls of practicing physicians. In addition, Schumer also helped protect Hospital-Based Nursing Schools that were facing unjust claw-backs like St. Joseph’s Health in Syracuse. For years the federal government had accidentally, sent overpayments to hospital-based nursing schools like those hosted at St Joseph’s and Crouse Hospitals in Onondaga County. For the last two years, the federal government has asked these hospitals to pay back these funds even knowing that they’d already been used to improve and expand training opportunities for nurses at these institutions. With Senator Schumer’s support, the new Omnibus bill includes language to forgive these overpayments and prevent the harmful clawback of funds that would undermine the ability to train the next generation of nurses in Onondaga County.

These boosts in training and assistance to help fill healthcare worker slots comes after Senator Schumer, working with Senator Gillibrand, was also able secured major boosts in direct federal funding to help local hospitals expand their services.

“Tragically, Central New York ranks among the highest regions statewide for suicide deaths and hospitalizations due to self-harm. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Gillibrand and Majority Leader Schumer, SUNY Upstate Medical University will now have the resources needed to work with schools across this region to bring them the proven intervention techniques and treatments -including Dynamic Deconstructive Psychotherapy, developed right here at SUNY Upstate- we are implementing in the clinical setting. We conservatively estimate that the Upstate Suicide Prevention Center will be able to serve at least 600 youth and young adults over the next five years,” said SUNY Upstate Medical University President, Mantosh Dewan, MD.

“Senator Schumer’s tireless focus and dedication in securing critical funding for our region’s healthcare providers continues to have a major impact on thousands of patients. At Crouse, funding will be used to expand the Rapid Evaluation Unit of our Pomeroy Emergency Services Department. Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen record numbers of patients seeking emergency care – not just at Crouse, but at ERs across the region. This enhancement will expand access to care, reduce waiting times, increase patient satisfaction, and allow for more patients to be triaged, while increasing rapid turnover of treatment rooms,” said Seth Kronenberg, MD, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Medical Officer for Crouse.

These projects include:

$1,100,000 for the SUNY Upstate Medical Center – Suicide Prevention Center:

This will support the creation of Upstate Suicide Prevention Center that they anticipated to serve at least 600 youth and young adults annually over the next five years in outpatient settings and in 50 school districts across Central New York. The funding will help support innovative evidence-based treatments, expanded telehealth counseling, and care collaborations with community agencies, medical providers, and school counseling centers.             

$1,010,000 for Crouse Health- Emergency Services: Access to Care:

This funding will enhance the rapid evaluation unit of Crouse Health’s emergency department, enabling it to reconfigure the current space and build out into an adjacent area. The emergency department benefits the community by serving as a resource for ill and injured patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and expanding the space will help staff continue attending to patients’ urgent medical needs.            

$900,000 for SUNY Upstate Medical Center – Multidisciplinary Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Treatment Center:

The SUNY Upstate Multidisciplinary Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Treatment Center will combine the research, diagnostic expertise, clinical specialists, and medical education resources that sufferers of these insidious diseases need, when they need it most.

$2 million for the Auburn Community Hospital Cancer Center:

This funding will aide purchase essential medical equipment for cancer diagnostics and boost the expansion of the hospital as it breaks ground on its new state-of-the-art cancer center. Currently, 80% of residents in Cayuga County have to travel greater than 25 miles for medical oncology services. This long overdue major expansion will add radiation oncology services and many other lifesaving cancer treatments and diagnostic services close to home for members of the community.

$1 million for Oneida Health Systems, Inc -Behavioral Health Renovations:

Renovations to an existing building located on the main campus of Oneida Health for multi-use care/testing center and HRSA-funded Behavioral Health Integration and Intensive Outpatient Program.             

$2 million for Valley Health Services - Skilled Nursing and Neurobehavioral Care Facility:

Construction of a new, state-of-the-art, 160 bed skilled nursing facility with a 20 bed neurobehavioral unit and a 20 bed memory care unit. The new facility will focus on services needed most by the community and will address current service gaps such as end-of-life care, dementia care and specialized units for sub-acute, clinically complex residents and those with neurobehavioral conditions.             

$2,995,000 for a new Cortland County Mental Health Facility:

This funding will bolster Cortland County to transform a vacant downtown building into a new state of the art mental health facility. Currently, Cortland County’s Mental Health Department is housed in a severely outdated building, which lacks both modern necessities like sufficient broadband access for telehealth services, critical disability accommodations, and the physical space to provide residents the amount of programs they need. Cortland County already has over a thousand patients enrolled in its mental health care programs and that number continues to rise- with an estimated 8% increase next year alone. Once completed, the new facility will nearly double the space for the county’s treatment programs, and make major upgrades like an ADA compliant elevator and high-speed internet access that will significantly boost the quality of their telehealth treatment options. 


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