Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Partnership aims to help resolve nursing shortages at long-term care facilities

Monroe Community College nursing students stand around a simulation patient in a downtown campus classroom.
Racquel Stephen
/
WXXI News
Monroe Community College nursing students stand around a simulation patient in a downtown campus classroom.

Nursing school was something Brandi Pittman and her daughter Brianna Muhammad manifested. The duo created vision boards, which encompassed everything they wanted to accomplish within the coming year.

“One of my personal visions was to have school completely paid for, and be debt free,” Pittman said.

Pittman and Muhammad said they come from a family of nurses and that nursing was in their DNA.

To continue that legacy, the mother and daughter pair enrolled in Monroe Community College’s licensed practical nursing program together, unaware that they’d be able to get benefits that would assist during their pursuit for an education.

“We just knew that it was another program that offered what we wanted,” Pittman said, “But once we got here, it felt like home.”

Finger Lakes Performing Provider System and MCC have partnered to provide students pursuing careers in nursing with financial and extracurricular support. FLPPS is a local nonprofit that provides nursing students with assistance for housing, transportation, and childcare, so those individuals can focus on their academic and career goals.

Sponsor Message
Brandi Pittman and her daughter Brianna Muhammad stand in between Adam Bello, Monroe County Executive and Carol Tegas, FLPPS CEO. The mother and daughter pair are both students at MCC's LPN program at the downtown campus.
Racquel Stephen
/
WXXI News
Brandi Pittman and her daughter Brianna Muhammad stand in between Adam Bello, Monroe County Executive and Carol Tegas, FLPPS CEO. The mother and daughter pair are both students at MCC's LPN program at the downtown campus.

“The key component of this unique program is that it provides social support to alleviate barriers that individuals may face when trying to advance in their career,” said Carol Tegas, FLPPS, CEO. “We have designed career pathway systems that will cover training costs, tuition, and other education related expenses for certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses.”

Muhammad is married with two kids, but even with a supportive husband and her mother by her side in class, life can get tough.

“Even with all that support it’s still hard,” Muhammad said. “I can only Imagine a single mother with children who might not have the best support system.”

Like many places, Monroe County has nurse shortages that have reached crisis level. More than 700 beds are empty among the county’s 35 nursing homes, according to Steven Goldstein, Strong Memorial Hospital president. Roughly 300 beds are currently occupied with patients who can go to a nursing home.

But the FLPSS solution piqued the interest of county officials. County Executive Adam Bello announced on Tuesday that the county will provide $11 million in federal pandemic relief funding for the partnership between the college and the nonprofit, which he framed as a long-term care workforce development program.

“If you're training someone just for the sake of training them it's wasting everybody's time,” Bello said. “We need to train people for jobs that are open.”

Half of the $11 million investment will go towards reimbursing the health care agencies and institutions that train new nurses. The other half will go towards the supports that FLPPS is providing.

Tegas said she anticipates more than 200 nurses will be trained through this program.

“We need to ensure there's a skilled and sufficient health care workforce, not only right now, but for years to come,” Tegas said.

Racquel Stephen is WXXI's health, equity and community reporter and producer. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.