March 3, 2017

Letter to the Editor

As President of Parkland Health Center, I see every day how a dedicated, well-trained workforce can make a difference in the health and well-being of our fellow citizens. It isnít an exaggeration to say, their training often means the difference between a good health care experience, and a bad one.

A significant percentage of our employees bring an excellent collection of training and skills from their education at Mineral Area College (MAC). For decades, our hospital has offered clinical education to MAC nursing students. And, MACís Allied Health Department is recognized for highly-skilled, focused graduates.

A full range of healthcare education is offered, including education and training for future paramedics, radiologists, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and pharmacy technicians. The college offers training for healthcare facility maintenance workers and medical coders. MAC has also expanded its Allied Health wing to include a modern simulated-patient lab, classrooms and student intake area. Given a shortage of healthcare workers in our state, this expansion comes at an opportune time. According to the Missouri Hospital Associationís 2016 workforce report, there was 23.6% turnover in 36 different healthcare positions in southeast Missouri alone.

I was therefore very disappointed to learn that Mineral Area College is one of many colleges and universities in Missouri to have their funding withheld from the state this year, with threats of further cuts next fiscal year. I am concerned about the impacts these cuts will have on programs and on future graduates that deliver healthcare to Missouri citizens.

Not only are healthcare jobs important to patients, they are also important to the economy. These are good jobs with good pay, and with the right training there are numerous opportunities to have a successful career in the healthcare field. Additionally, there are many opportunities that do not require four years of education. For many, the kind of affordable education provided by Mineral Area College helps to ensure our fellow Missourians can make a good wage, contributing to our stateís economy, stability and well-being.

I urge Governor Greitens, his administration, and our legislators in Jefferson City to strongly reconsider the stateís current cuts and to restore funding levels to the education and job-training programs that help ensure we have a strong and stable workforce across Missouri.

Tom Karl

President, Parkland BJC