The Catholic University of America

Oct. 4, 2011

Labor Secretary Announces $159 Million in Grants at CUA Event

  9/11 service day

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announces $159 million in grants during a press conference at CUA.

University’s Health Information Technology Program to Receive Award

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced $159 million in grant money to 36 partnerships between private and public sector entities — including one involving Catholic University and nearby Providence Hospital — during a press conference held today at The Catholic University of America.

As a result of today’s announcement, Catholic University and its partners will receive $4,175,500 to train health care workers in its health information technology programs.

The announced awards were part of the first round of the H-1B Technical Skills Training Grant Competition. The program is designed to provide education, training, and job placement assistance in the occupations and industries for which employers are using H-1B visas to hire foreign workers for specialist occupations.

“All across the country, we have millions of talented people — older workers, younger workers, veterans — who have been unemployed for far too long,” Solis said. “Those people aren’t abroad, they’re right here. They’re ready to get back to work. They just need a little help.”

From left: Dan Alford, a student in the health information technology master’s program; Amy Freeman, president and CEO of Providence Hospital; President John Garvey; Solis; Sara Thompson, dean of the Metropolitan School of Professional Studies; Provost James Brennan; and Jane Oates, assistant secretary of employment and training administration at the Department of Labor.

The grant money, raised by fees paid through the H-1B visa program, will be dedicated to training workers to succeed in high-growth, high-tech industries, Solis said.

“I’m talking about industries like advanced manufacturing, clean energy, health care, and information technology that are critical to ensuring that we out-build and out-innovate our competitors across the globe,” she said.

Catholic University launched four academic programs in health information technology  in fall 2010. The Metropolitan School of Professional Studies (MSPS) introduced a bachelor’s degree, a certificate, and a competency development program. In addition, MSPS partnered with the School of Library and Information Science to support the development of their master’s degree.

When CUA launched the health information technology programs, it did so with the assistance of $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration and the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

Provost James Brennan noted that because CUA has received funding from the department previously, the University has “first-hand experience in seeing how these grants can change the lives of individuals, their families, communities, and even entire industries.”

  Solis, center, visits with students in one of CUA's health information technology classes.

Citing the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Brennan said that health care opportunities account for more than 10 percent of all employment opportunities available in the D.C. area.

“This grant will ensure that the D.C. region’s doctors, nurses, and other health care providers do have the systems, the knowledge, and the skills they need to care for our citizens,” said Amy Freeman, president and CEO of Providence Hospital.

Dan Alford, a student in the health information technology master’s program, explained how he had left a career in higher education in 2007 after 27 years and was drawn to a field that merged health care and technology.

“I simply could not resist the opportunity to be part of one of the most revolutionary changes in our nation’s health care system,” he said. He enrolled in the master’s program inaugural class in fall 2010. His goal, something he says is possible with this grant, is to be a “world-class trainer” for doctors and health care workers implementing electronic medical records systems.

Before the press conference, President John Garvey and MSPS Dean Sara Thompson led Solis on a tour of McGivney Hall. Solis witnessed a simulation of one of CUA’s health information technology courses as well as a demonstration of the eClinicalWorks technology used at Providence Hospital.




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