Avera Health granted $2.5M to boost workforce through telehealth, virtual nursing

Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Avera Health has received $2.5 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration to address the workforce shortage through telehealth, virtual nursing and rural healthcare education.

The first grant, which is for $1.5 million and called Project NEXT, will train rural public health workers in telehealth, health IT, telemetry monitoring and virtual nursing.

"Following the national trend, South Dakota's most acute health workforce need is certainly nursing in rural areas," Rachael Sherard, senior vice president for rural health at Avera, said in a Nov. 17 health system news release. "Project NEXT offers Avera an opportunity to support nursing staff, not simply by hiring more RNs, but also by leveraging the capacity of its health IT workforce to intervene in ways that are new and cutting-edge."

The second grant, for $1 million, will prepare nurses to work in rural critical-access hospitals by educating students in cultural awareness, social determinants of health, health equity and health literacy.

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