Cantwell Announces $2.7 Million for Health IT

Funding to Bellevue College will prepare students for cutting-edge health information technology careers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that Bellevue College will receive the second installment of a two-year grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to continue a consortium of community colleges in expanding health information technology (health IT) training. Bellevue College was awarded a total $6 million two-year grant to train students in health IT and ensure that Washington state will continue to be a leader in the rapid adoption of health IT and meaningful use. Last year, the college received the first $3,364,798, and today they second installment of $ 2,798,463. 
“Washington state has long been a leader in the adoption of health information technology,” said Senator Cantwell. “Health IT plays an integral role in improving the health care services we deliver, reducing medical errors, and cutting costs, all leading to better patient outcomes. A recent study estimated that our nation will need a health IT workforce of at least 50,000, so it is vital our colleges are training students in the skills necessary to fill future jobs.”
Bellevue College is home to the Center of Excellence for Information and Computing Technology, a statewide resource for community and technical colleges, the educational system, and the information technology industry. The Center is tasked with preparing the state to become a national model in developing partnerships among business, industry, and education for enhancing economic and workforce development initiatives to meet current and future needs critical to the state’s economic vitality.
Altogether, the consortium plans to train a total of 2,400 new health IT workers between 2010 and 2011 – 300 in Washington state alone – and assist graduates in finding jobs. The other consortium members are Portland Community College (Portland, Ore.), North Idaho College (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho), Salt Lake Community College (Salt Lake City, Utah), Montana Tech (Butte, Mont.), Pueblo Community College ( Pueblo, Col.), Dakota State University (Madison, S. D.), and Lake Region State College (Devils Lake, N. D.). The Washington Health Care Authority (HCA) designated Bellevue College as the lead organization for state ARRA initiatives in the area of “Information Technology Professionals In Health Care.” This responsibility can include health informatics curricula development; student recruitment and retention, and establishing a bridge program to a university.