BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced that the Alabama Health Action Coalition is one of 30 state coalitions to receive grant funding as
part of the Future of Nursing State Implementation Program (SIP). The program is helping states prepare the nursing profession to address our nation’s most pressing
health care challenges—access, quality, and cost.
The Alabama Health Action Coalition (AL-HAC) was established in late 2012 and is part of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. Its co-leaders are Kathleen A. Ladner,
PhD, RN, FACHE, visiting professor at the UAB School of Nursing and Carol J. Ratcliffe, DNP, RN, FACHE, associate professor at the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing at Samford University.
The nursing lead partner of the AL-HAC is the Alabama Organization of Nursing Executives (AlaONE) and the other lead partner is Blue Cross
and Blue Shield of Alabama (BCBSAL). Other partners of record are the Alabama Hospital Association (AlaHA), the Medical Association for the State of Alabama (MASA),
and AARP Alabama.
The State Implementation Program (SIP) bolsters efforts already underway in 50 states and the District of Columbia—the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action—to improve
health and health care through nursing. A joint initiative of AARP and RWJF, the Campaign is working to implement the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) evidence-based
recommendations on the future of nursing. It provides a vehicle for nurses at all levels to lead system change to improve care for patients and families through collaboration with
business, consumer, and other health professional organizations.
“We are confident that these grants will help spur progress across the country,” said Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, RWJF senior adviser for nursing and director of
the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. “Our Action Coalitions are already doing notable work to transform nursing practice and education, and support nurse leadership.
The Foundation is committed to helping states build a more highly educated, diverse nursing workforce so that everyone in America can live a healthier life, supported by a
system in which nurses are essential partners in providing care and promoting health.”
The $4.5 million State Implementation Program (SIP) is providing two-year grants of up to $150,000 to state-based Action Coalitions that have developed or made substantial
progress toward implementing the IOM recommendations. States had to obtain matching funds to receive their grants. For the AL-HAC, “a grassroots effort was
conducted to raise the funds during the past year,” Ladner and Ratcliffe said. “Nursing, medicine, health care and businesses from all over Alabama were among those that
responded quickly and generously to the call for donations.” Professional nursing organizations donating include the State of Alabama Association of Colleges of Nursing
(SAACN), AlaONE, the Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Alabama and Regional Groups from West, Central, and Montgomery Areas, the Birmingham Regional Organization of
Nurse Leaders, the Birmingham Black Nurses Association, Inc., and the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing at Samford University.
Schools of nursing that donated over and above what SAACN donated included the University of Mobile, the University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing, the Ida V.
Moffett School of Nursing at Samford University, and the University of North Alabama College of Nursing and Allied Health.
Health care affiliates supporting the AL-HAC through generous donations include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, AlaHA, MASA, Alacare Home Health and Hospice,
Millport Family Practice, McWhorter School of Pharmacy at Samford University, VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, and Coosa Valley Medical Center in Sylacauga.
Businesses in Alabama recognizing the need to support the AL-HAC are the Business Council of Alabama and the Drummond Company. AARP Alabama also provided
support. In addition, there were anonymous donations from health care and academic organizations, schools of nursing, and individual supporters. “In addition to the monetary
donations, tremendous in-kind contributions from UAB School of Nursing, Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, Capstone College of Nursing, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama,
the Alabama Hospital Association, Alacare Home Health and Hospice, and the Alabama Board of Nursing were invaluable,” noted Ratcliffe and Ladner. “And of course,
countless individual nurses and physicians contributed from all over Alabama.”
“Because of the generous donations and hard work from our supporters, partners and volunteers, we were able to raise the $75,000 in just a few short months,” noted
Ratcliffe. “We had to demonstrate and show proof that we had pledges and/or the required seed dollars in order to apply for the matching grant of $150,000 from RWJF.”
“It was a joyous day when we had the funds accounted for,” Ladner added.
Grant recipients for the SIP will implement programs that prepare nurses to lead system change, strengthen nursing education, expand access to care by maximizing the use of
nurses, recruit and train a more diverse nursing workforce, and improve quality and coordination of health care. The Center to Champion Nursing in America (CCNA)—an
initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—serves as the national program office for the Future of Nursing State Implementation
“This new program will help Action Coalitions get the strategic and technical support required to advance their goals,” said Susan Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior vice
president of the AARP Public Policy Institute and chief strategist at CCNA. “Our hope is that with this support, we will see even more progress, and states will be even more
effective in improving health outcomes for patients, families, and communities.”
When official news of the SIP grants was made public by the RWJF, the partners of the AL-HAC were ecstatic. “The diverse leadership and partnership of the Alabama Health
Action Coalition and our focus on meaningful outcomes that improve care were key factors in Alabama being selected,” Ratcliffe said. “We are part of a powerful movement
that is improving health care for all Americans. The Alabama Health Action Coalition is grateful to RWJF for this support, which will strengthen our work immeasurably.”
Ladner noted, “Our primary focus for the AL-HAC in the next year is to implement a seamless transition for nurses who are not already prepared at the college level to
achieve a Bachelor of Science degree. This initiative is known as the 80/20.” Alabama is just one of the many states working to get 80 percent of the nursing workforce prepared
at a minimum at the BSN level in order to reduce health disparities in the state. “The overall goal is to improve the health outcomes of citizens because countless studies
prove that nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher have better patient outcomes.”
“Giving back to the community is one of our core values, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is proud to partner with the Alabama Health Action Coalition”, said
Dr. Dow Briggs, Senior Vice President of Business Operations, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. “We appreciate the opportunity to support our state’s nursing
profession along with the many other health care initiatives that provide access to quality medical care for all Alabamians.”
“Each partner brings unique contributions to the Coalition,” Ladner said. “It is so exciting to see nursing and medicine working together for the betterment of patients in
Alabama.” The President of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, Michael Flanagan, MD agreed: “The better the care coordination, the better our outcomes will
be, and the team-based approach is the best one for providing comprehensive care to patients. As the largest physicians’ organization in Alabama, we are proud to support
efforts to strengthen the health care team and improve outcomes for patients.”
J. Michael Horsley, FACHE and president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said, “In reforming the health care delivery system, a key component is having a well-trained
workforce with the skills needed to provide effective and efficient care. Alabama’s hospitals are pleased to be a part of this important initiative.”
For more information on the Alabama Health Action Coalition or to make a donation please email: AlabamaActionCoalition@gmail.com.