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The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida Receives Grant to Address National/Regional Nursing Shortages
Date:8/18/2009

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Aug. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida, the philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF), announced today that it has been chosen as one of 10 foundations nationwide to receive funding from Partners Investing in Nursing's Future, a unique national initiative to help address the long-term shortage of available nurses across the country. To date, this is the first Florida organization to have been funded through Partners Investing in Nursing's Future.

Through Partners Investing in Nursing's Future, initiative directors are hoping that local and regional foundations create a domino effect - where innovative ideas are tested locally and shared nationally with an exponential effect on the workforce shortage. To help develop solutions and lead efforts within Florida, The Blue Foundation has been awarded a two-year grant of $250,000 to promote the use of simulation technology in Florida nurse education. The grant to The Blue Foundation will be matched by funds from BCBSF.

Led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation, Partners Investing in Nursing's Future is in its fourth year providing support to local foundations to act as catalysts in their own communities and develop strategies for creating and sustaining a viable nursing workforce. These foundations have forged local partnerships to apply for the competitive grant, raising awareness of the nursing shortage in their own communities.

"We are excited at this opportunity to partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation," said Susan B. Towler, executive director, The Blue Foundation. "By addressing one of the primary barriers to expansion of Florida's nurse education programs, the supply of nurses will increase, and the quality and quantity of health care available to Floridians will benefit from improved nurse staffing."

"Nurses are the nation's most direct link to patient safety and quality of care. We are committed to helping find the most innovative solutions to the nursing shortage so we can protect patients now and over the long term," said Susan B. Hassmiller, R.N., Ph.D., F.A.A.N., senior adviser for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "This unique partnership of the philanthropic community helps identify new approaches that go well beyond what any one foundation could do alone."

The 2009 grant cycle marks the fourth year of funding, totaling more than $10 million of investment by the program in local partnerships. In addition, Partners Investing in Nursing's Future has leveraged more than $8 million in local and regional funding, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the projects. For more information about Partners Investing in Nursing's Future, go to www.PartnersinNursing.org.

During the program's first three years, 69 foundation partners in 24 states and the territories of the Western Pacific established more than 300 local partnerships among nursing organizations, funders and workforce development boards to address the nursing shortage

Mary Lou Brunell, R.N., M.S.N., executive director, The Florida Center for Nursing, and lead for the research, explained that a continuing, aggregate decline in the nursing workforce is expected due to a complex combination of factors including an aging population needing more and intensive health care services, an aging nursing workforce unable to sustain its numbers, and a nursing education system with too few educators to train the next generation of nurses.

"This grant will help us expand our efforts to maximize the use of simulation technology in the preparation of new and continuing education of current RNs in Florida," noted Brunell. "If we don't deal with our shortage of nurses now, not only is patient care in our area at stake, but the health of the nation as a whole."

BCBSF established Generation RN(sm) to address the nursing workforce shortage in Florida. Since 2004, BCBSF has donated more than $17 million to Florida's nursing schools to increase the nursing workforce. Over 200 nursing students each year are receiving full BCBSF scholarships, and three schools have endowed professorships.

The Blue Foundation and The Florida Center for Nursing, based at the University of Central Florida, will facilitate further collaboration in developing a well-prepared nursing workforce to address the health care needs of all Floridians.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 30 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.

Founded in 1997, the Northwest Health Foundation is an independent, charitable foundation committed to advancing, supporting, and promoting the health of the people of Oregon and southwest Washington. Embracing its role as the community's partner for better health, the Foundation achieves its mission primarily through grantmaking and support for advocacy efforts that influence public policy. See www.nwhf.org.

The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida is a separate, philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF), incorporated in the state of Florida. The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida, and its parent, BCBSF, are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information on The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida, please visit its Web site at http://www.bluefoundationfl.com/.

Celebrating 65 years as Florida's leader in the health industry, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida is mission-driven to improve affordable access to health care. BCBSF is a not-for-profit, policyholder-owned, tax-paying mutual company. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., BCBSF is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information concerning BCBSF, please visit www.bcbsfl.com or to listen to Floridians speak out on health care issues visit www.thepowerofthehumanvoice.com.


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SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida
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