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Casey and Kanjorski Announce $745,513 Federal Grant to Fund
Development of Health Career Enrichment Program
WILKES-BARRE – Today, The Commonwealth Medical College announced a partnership with area educational institutions to expand the number of applicants entering healthcare professions in Northeast Pennsylvania (NEPA). Through the “Regional Education Academy for Careers in Science-Higher Education Initiative (REACH-HEI)” (pronounced reach high),   TCMC is partnering with Misericordia University, Luzerne County Community College, East Stroudsburg University, Northeast Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center (AHEC), The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS), and Scranton Area high school to assist students from disadvantaged backgrounds to successfully enter and graduate from medical or other health profession schools.
The REACH-HEI program is funded by a Health Careers Opportunity (HCOP) federal grant awarded to TCMC and supported by Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) and Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11), to strengthen and expand the health professions workforce by increasing diversity in the health professions.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in its Notice of Grant Award authorized $745, 513 for year one and recommended future support of over $800, 000 for each of the next two years.  
“A diverse, well-trained workforce is essential to improving the accessibility, affordability and quality of healthcare and I am pleased to see funds going to programs that will help prepare Pennsylvania’s health care professionals to meet the demands and challenges facing our health system today,” said Senator Casey.    
“With this funding, we will combine the strengths of our local colleges and universities to offer more educational opportunities for Northeastern Pennsylvania’s young people,” said Congressman Kanjorski.  “This funding will help our area further develop its health care industry, which has only improved with the creation of The Commonwealth Medical College.  I applaud the participating partners for joining in this initiative that will benefit our region’s students, our local economy, and Northeastern Pennsylvania’s growing health care industry.  I will work to ensure that The Commonwealth Medical College continues to receive this funding in the next few years.”
Over the next three years, TCMC and its REACH-HEI partners will develop programs tailored to the needs of students that will educate, support and mentor students who desire to pursue healthcare professions.
“Enhancing the academic performance of students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds will prepare them for careers in the health professions. These programs work and provide students with a future they may never have dreamed of having,” said Robert D’ Alessandri, MD, TCMC President and Dean.
REACH-HEI’s long-term impact is the creation of a qualified and diverse workforce of healthcare professionals who will stay in NEPA to serve others through careers in medicine, dentistry, physical or occupational therapy, psychology, speech language pathology, medical technology, health education, podiatric medical sonography, rehabilitation services, Emergency Medical Service, respiratory therapy, mortuary science and optometry.
“It is a privilege to be among this prestigious group of regional institutions who recognize the need for improved healthcare and are eager to join together to educate and mentor students on many levels with the goal to improve access to care across the spectrum of all healthcare services,” said Michael MacDowell, President, Misericordia University.
Through the comprehensive REACH-HEI program, TCMC in partnership with its regional educational partners will develop a broad range of academic and support programs to address a variety of needs in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe and Wayne counties. From summer enrichment programs to after-school programs and research internships, REACH-HEI will cultivate student interest in healthcare careers, support and encourage the pursuit of health-related professions and strengthen skills in the math and sciences.  In addition, REACH-HEI will provide additional opportunities in clinical, science, public health, and research internships to facilitate the transition for incoming medical students and aid academic and personal success. 
According to Ida Castro, MA, JD, Vice President of Social Justice and Diversity, TCMC, who will be overseeing the program, TCMC– working together with its partners–will develop a unique pathway programs for economically disadvantaged/first generation college and minorities high school students  providing them with academic support in math and science, career development and support service that will allow them to seamlessly pursue college and post graduate education in health related professions. Importantly, these programs will also involve parents to increase their ability to support their child’s dream to become a physician, dentist or other health care professional. 
“This is a very significant milestone for TCMC as we continue our mission to educate the next generation of physicians but more importantly, provide the vision and leadership to assist in the transformation of the healthcare systems,” stated Robert W. Naismith, Phd, Chair, TCMC Board of Trustees.

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