Reed & Whitehouse Deliver $1.49M Boost for RI Health Care Workforce Pipeline

In an effort to increase the number of health care professionals in Rhode Island, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse today delivered a $1,498,000 federal earmark for Thundermist Health Center’s clinical workforce development programs. 

Locally, nearly one out of every five Rhode Islanders do not have a primary care provider. For those who do, wait times for an appointment can stretch on for months due to large waves of health care professionals leaving their field across the nation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This federal funding will help strengthen Thundermist’s ability to provide affordable care for Rhode Islanders and it will help bolster health care across Rhode Island by creating a new, innovative workforce development pipeline for the next generation of health care workers in our state,” said Senator Reed. “Thundermist, and all of Rhode Island’s tremendous community health centers, really stepped up to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been on the frontlines, tailoring services to best care for our communities from mental health care services to responding to the opioid crisis. More than ever, our health centers deserve our appreciation and support and I’m proud to team up with Senator Whitehouse to deliver this important funding.”

“When health care facilities aren’t able to hire enough staff, patients experience long wait times and health care workers get burned out. Senator Reed and I delivered this earmark to get more Rhode Islanders into these in-demand jobs and build up the state’s health care workforce. Thundermist continues to do excellent work in partnership with URI, RIC, and CCRI to train the next generation of nurses and health care professionals,” said Senator Whitehouse.

“The impact of the workforce development programs has been extraordinary,” said Jeanne LaChance, president/CEO of Thundermist Health Center. “These programs are making a difference for so many people.  They’re helping Rhode Islanders get the care they need. More people are prepared for good jobs with great benefits and steady employment. And, health professionals have the opportunities they need to advance their careers.”

The $1.498 million federal earmark for Thundermist has helped to foster new and expanded partnerships with the University of Rhode Island (URI), Rhode Island College (RIC), and the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI). Senators Reed and Whitehouse secured this funding in the Fiscal Year 2023 Consolidated Appropriations law.

In the first year alone, Thundermist’s workforce development programs have trained 62 health care professionals and 145 student nurses for jobs in numerous health care fields. The training enabled by this earmark provides:

  • Financial support for the costs of certifications and training;
  • Paid stipends to employees working full-time while earning their credentials;
  • Partnerships with higher education providers in Rhode Island to create a bridge from classroom learning to hands-on application of skills, and;
  • Partnerships with specialty health service providers to expand provider knowledge in specialized fields of care.

Furthermore, this federal funding for Thundermist has increased the organization’s capacity to introduce new training programs both internally and with partnering institutions, including: 

  • Development of a Family Medicine Physician Residency program
  • Expanding URI College of Nursing curriculum to include Primary Care
  • Training for new nurse preceptors to expand the capacity for new students
  • Providing incumbent workers’ bachelor’s degree completion in behavioral health
  • Strengthening recruitment efforts through in-house training for Dental and Medical assistants

Thundermist Health Center is a full-service primary care provider with dental and behavioral health services. The non-profit community health center aims to improve the health of patients and communities by delivering exceptional health care, removing barriers to that care, and advancing healthy lifestyles. Thundermist has locations in West Warwick, Woonsocket, and South County. The organization cares for patients regardless of insurance and ability to pay. In 2022, Thundermist cared for nearly 58,000 patients.




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