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Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc. to Share in 700,000 Dollar Grant to Combat Primary Care Nursing Shortage

Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc. (Valley-Wide) applied for and was awarded funding to increase the number and effectiveness of Registered nurses trained in primary care services. This is of particular importance to health care delivery in rural areas.


Valley-Wide is working to increase the access to nurses in rural areas.

The grant, administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Bureau of Health Workforce Division of Nursing and Public Health, will fund a six-partner collaborative to include Valley-Wide, Adams State University, one Denver-based health clinic and two nursing schools. The program will be coordinated through The Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence.

Focus on Primary Care

The collaborative project, which is titled Achieving Systemic Impact: A Statewide Primary Care Nursing Collaborative, focuses on increasing the number of Registered Nurses trained in primary care services in underserved and rural areas. Historically, the curriculums delivered through nursing schools have been tailored to focus on patients in a hospital-based setting. Despite health care needs changing, this is still the case.

“The ability to expand the number of nurses with skill sets in primary care services demonstrates Valley-Wide’s commitment to being proactive and keeping our populations healthy,” Gigi Darricades, CEO of Valley-Wide Health Systems, said.

This mindset has only just begun to shift, sparked by evidence showing the lack of training in primary care.

“Nursing school graduates in large part do not have adequate experience or training in population health or in a primary care setting,” Dr. Denise Trujillo, Valley-Wide’s Director of Nursing, explained. “This collaborative project will offer upskilling to current nursing staff, increase the presence of Registered Nurses in the clinic setting, increase the ability to hire new RNs educated in primary care to include population health. In addition, it will offer the ability for VWHS Licensed Practical Nurses to go back to nursing school for their RN degree. We are excited to see the impact this focus can have.”

This issue is compounded by the fact that opportunities to gain experience in primary care in rural areas are limited for students. Fortunately, the partnership between Valley-Wide and Adams State University will work to address these limitations in nursing education delivery.

“This project is exciting because it allows us to capitalize on providing primary medical care services that will aide in keeping our populations healthy,” Marisa Atencio, Assistant Director of Nursing at Valley-Wide Health Systems, stated. “Valley-Wide’s focus is to serve the communities we live in through keeping them healthy, and the collaborative work we will be doing contributes to this objective.”

Lastly, as healthcare models evolve, it is critical that nurses are prepared with core competencies for enhanced roles in integrated, patient-centered primary care that focuses on wellness, care coordination, and quality improvement.

The collaborative project is currently funded over the next four years. Its inaugural year will commence in the Fall of 2018.