Group comes together at Lamar State College Port Arthur to give nursing shortage a booster shot

Published 12:32 am Saturday, April 23, 2022

The need for nurses was at the forefront Friday as a coalition of educators and hospital leaders led by Lamar State College Port Arthur joined to speak with the deputy assistant secretary of commerce for economic development.

Lamar State College PA Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Pamela Millsap said she couldn’t remember a time when there wasn’t a nursing shortage, but it is now more apparent.

The coalition came together in December and includes Lamar State College PA, Lamar University, Lamar State College Orange, the Deep East Texas College and Career Academy, Christus Southeast Texas Health Systems, Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas, The Southeast Texas Medical Center and Riceland Health Services.

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LSCPA is one of 60 finalists chosen of more than 500 applications from across the nation seeking $70,000,000 in federal funds, according to information from the college.

LSCPA made the application for a Phase 2 award on March 11. The final decision on the grant is expected in late July.

This the largest grant competition ever hosted by the United States Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.

The coalition has pledged nearly $20,000,000 in matching funds in cash, pledged an additional $50,000,000 in salaries for new faculty members and nurses, and pledged $100,000,000 in additional public and private capital if the grant is awarded, according to information from the college.

Lamar State College Orange President Dr. Thomas Johnson said the grant will help all of Southeast Texas.

“It’s going to mean a great deal to Lamar State College Orange, to Lamar University, to the hospitals involved and to Lamar State College Port Arthur,” Johnson said. “We’re so excited about it because it will transform lives in our area.”

Dr. Brian McCall, chancellor of Texas State University System, said the area is growing but the need is greater than the growth.

“This will be very helpful to us, the nurses and doctors in Southeast Texas and other health related fields, even teachers,” McCall said.

When Millsap spoke of the nursing shortage she noted that students go right into jobs after graduation. McCall commented on a downside related to the shortage — nurses are exhausted and leaving the profession because of that.

Dennis Alford, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, was welcomed to a roundtable discussion with the coalition and said early on he is not part of the grant judging process but was there to learn about the coalition and get feedback for better policy making in future competitions.