Tuesday, December 16, 2014

$12.2 M In Training Grants Awarded To Reduce Health Care Costs


Rachel Kaprielian

Media Contact
Contact: Ann Dufresne (617) 626-7121

For Immediate Release - December 10, 2014

$12.2 M in training grants awarded to reduce health care costs

Award is second round of grants to train health care workers under landmark Health Care Cost Containment Act

Lowell, Wednesday, December 10, 2014 – Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rachel Kaprielian today awarded more than $12.2 million in the latest round of grants to help train health care providers to improve patient service and reduce health care costs. The funding goes to 53 organizations across the state as part of the Patrick Administration’s effort to encourage economic growth by supporting innovation in the Commonwealth’s health care industry. Secretary Kaprielian announced the awards at the Lowell Community Health Center, one of the grant recipients.

“These grants will help ensure health care providers succeed in implementing new models of service delivery and adapt to new payment structures,’ said Secretary Kaprielian. “By providing resources to develop new and innovative training and education programs, Massachusetts will continue to solidify its place as a leader in health care modernization and advances.” 

In 2012, Governor Deval Patrick signed Chapter 224 making Massachusetts the first state in the country to enact health care quality improvement and cost containment legislation. The Health Care Cost Containment Act allocated $20 million to prepare the health care industry for the new demands and innovations called for in the legislation.

Governor Patrick announced the first round of grants in March which allowed businesses to assess their workforce and determine what skills and training they will need to change operations and deliver more efficient health care. For many of today’s grantees, the training activity ahead builds on that planning work. All the grantees have identified a set of operational changes that are driving their need for increased workforce skills. The training activity will support new models for coordinating care across professions, institutions and settings, focus on patient-centered care, stronger patient engagement and health education to promote health and wellness, integration of primary care and behavioral health and process improvement.

“This important grant will ensure that the health care industry continues to provide the resources necessary to remain innovative,” said Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr.  “It will also ensure quality of care by enhancing the skills of its workers.  This in turn will foster economic growth and opportunity in our Commonwealth.”

The Lowell Community Health Center, which has served the communities of greater Lowell since 1970, will partner with the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and Northern Essex Community College on a $250,000 grant to deliver a training plan that will improve the quality of patient care by strengthening the skills of frontline community health workers and medical assistants.

 “We now care for nearly half of all Lowell residents, or nearly 50,000 individuals, said Dorcas Grigg-Saito, CEO of the Lowell Community Health Center. “This unique training opportunity will help us ensure that we have the skilled workforce we need to achieve our mission of delivering high quality and cost effective patient care to each and every patient we serve.”

Niem Nay-Kret, one of a number of center workers slated to receive the new training said “Since I primarily serve members of Lowell's large concentration of Cambodians, I am excited by the opportunity to expand my clinical knowledge and case management skills because the patients I serve face so many obstacles to better health.”

Health Care Workforce Transformation Grants announced on Wednesday are administered by the Commonwealth Corporation under the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.  Awarded grants ranged in size from $30,300 to $250,000.  Grant recipients represent every region of the Commonwealth and every subsector of the health care industry. 

The following received grants during this round of funding:

Lead Applicant                                                  Total $ Requested       WIB Region 

Lowell Community Health Center                             $250,000.00           Greater Lowell  

Lowell General Hospital                                           $244,354.13           Greater Lowell  

Anna Jaques Hospital                                              $249,973.37         Merrimack Valley

Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board         $250,000.00         Merrimack Valley

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

HNTB marks 100 years
By Dan O'Brien
Updated:   12/07/2014
CHELMSFORD -- From the formation of the Massachusetts Turnpike, the expansion of South Station to the design of the iconic Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, HNTB has had its fingerprints on nearly every key transportation-infrastructure project in Massachusetts since its arrival in the state in 1954.

The Kansas City-based designer of bridges, roadways, airports, stadiums and rail systems recently marked its 100th anniversary in business, an event that drew local legislators and town officials to the company's Apollo Drive offices last week.
State Reps. David Nangle and Tom Golden, both D-Lowell, delivered a state proclamation to the business, and were joined by Town Manager Paul Cohen and Selectmen George Dixon and Pat Wojtas. 

Steven McElligott, the company's Northeast Division president, said HNTB has been in Chelmsford since 2008. It employs 85 of its approximately 200 Massachusetts workers there (the rest are in Boston), and is seeking to grow.
"We're looking for about 20 percent more space," he said, noting the company occupies about 15,000 square feet. "We expect to grow to over 100 people here."
Cohen was pleased to hear HNTB would be expanding within its existing building, seeing it as a sign that there is satisfaction with Chelmsford.

"With any business, we just try to convey that we're willing to assist in any way possible in terms of addressing their needs," Cohen said. "They'll be bringing in more people as part of that expansion, which of course is good news."
McElligott said several major projects in Massachusetts have put HNTB on a growth track in the region. Among those are an extension of the MBTA's Green Line and the expansion of South Station. 

HNTB came to Massachusetts in 1954 as plans began to create the state turnpike.
"We were the first consultant," McElligott said.

Other signature projects in the region include the replacement of the Whittier Bridge (spanning Newbury and Amesbury) and the conversion to open-road tolling at the Hampton (N.H.) Toll Plaza.

HNTB is an employee-owned firm serving public and private owners and contractors, including the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 

"It (our status) provides our employees a sense of ownership, and there is pride in doing the best job possible," McElligott said. 

The company is organized into three main groups:
* Infrastructure, which serves public infrastructure clients.
* Design-build, which serves national and international contractors
* Architecture, which serves public and private infrastructure clients and contractors.

McElligott said strapped state and municipal budgets have not been a deterrent to HNTB's business because it provides a necessary service and looks to work with clients to minimize costs. 

"The infrastructure is going to be there. When it ages, it impacts the mobility of the region, and that impacts commerce," he said. 

He gave the example of a commuter-rail rehabilitation project on the Fitchburg/South Acton Line that was estimated to cost $300 million but which the state had budgeted just half that.
"We were able to work with clients to find what was unnecessary, and get that cost down to $150 million," McElligott said. "We look to deliver the same utility at a lower cost."
Privately-held HNTB employs 3,700 people in numerous offices across the United States.



State Rep. David Nangle, D-Lowell, speaks as he presents a proclamation from the Legislature to HNTB Corp., a provider of transportation-infrastructure design and services, at the company's offices in Chelmsford on Tuesday. Looking on are state Rep. Tom Golden, D-Lowell, left, and Steven McElligott, Northeast Division president of HNTB. The Kansas City-based company plans to add to its 85-man roster in Chelmsford.

Weekly Recap 12-1-2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014