December 14, 1999
Initiative Would Standardize Training for Employed Health Care Workers
A coalition of labor unions, Baltimore hospitals and state and local government agencies has been awarded nearly $1 million by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to develop a program of portable, transferable training for health care workers. Details of the grant will be presented at a press briefing on Dec. 17 at 9 a.m. in rooms 2134 and 2140 of The Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center located on North Caroline Street.
Called the Baltimore Regional Healthcare Training Partnership, the program is designed to ensure that current health care workers receive the training and education necessary for promotion and job retention. By developing a training system and skill standards that all coalition partners recognize, program participants are expected to find it much easier to transfer from one institution to another.
The partnership, a program of Community Services of Central Maryland/AFL-CIO, includes The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Sinai Hospital, Maryland General Hospital, the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, the Service Employees International Union District 1199E-DC, -- the largest healthcare union in Maryland-- the City of Baltimore's Office of Employment Development, and the Maryland State Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation.
Starting in February, the partnership will begin training workers currently employed in the participating hospitals in four occupations: patient care technician, medical billing, unit secretary, and surgical technician. The training will be recognized by all four institutions. The partnership already has begun an external diploma program (for those without high school diplomas), academic tutoring, and basic computer classes to improve the computer literacy of health care employees.
Employment in health care continues to grow in the Baltimore region, with one of five private-sector workers in Baltimore City employed in the industry. Yet many currently employed workers are at risk for becoming unemployed or joining the ranks of those on public assistance because of rapid changes in the health care environment, according to Robert Moore, president of the Service Employees International Union, District 1199E-DC. "Managed care and the reengineering of hospital jobs mean that many workers face unexpected challenges," he says. "The skills that were once perfectly adequate for the old jobs are insufficient for the new ones. Furthermore, many jobs have moved from inpatient acute care hospitals to outpatient clinics or long-term care facilities. Making a transition can be difficult for workers without high school diplomas or with low literacy skills." Moore notes that even workers with higher level skills can still be at risk for unemployment if those skills are not recognized by different health care institutions due to a lack of standardized, certifiable training.
The partnership demonstrates the value of labor and management working together for common goals, says Moore. "Labor and management each bring a commitment to quality care to this partnership. Together we can work for better educated workers, more satisfying jobs at fair wages, and better health care for the community, he says."
In time, says Moore, the partnership hopes to expand to additional hospitals and health care institutions in the city.
Baltimore Regional Healthcare Training Partnership: Laura Chenven, 410-332-1199, ext. 102
District 1199E-DC, SEIU: Michele Thompson, 410-332-1199, ext. 111
Johns Hopkins Medicine: Gary M. Stephenson, 410-955-5384