MARBLE FALLS, Texas (KXAN) — Rural counties and cities in Central Texas have been making a push to attract quality health care workers, so people don’t have to drive into Austin to receive care.
An initiative through Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area launched Wednesday that aims to get more providers in places like Lampasas, Burnet and Llano.
“I am almost 44 in February … I’ve always wanted to go into some sort of nursing, I just never did,” said Brandi Hoover.
Hoover spent the past few years in and out of the hospital but not because she wanted to be there.
“I ended up having to have more colon surgeries and more kidney surgeries; it was leading on and on,” said Hoover.
Hoover’s medical condition is what kept delaying her dreams, but her interactions with the hospital staff is also what inspired her.
“It seemed like over time, I had the money saved up, and then I’d have another surgery, and I ended up having to pay the doctors,” said Hoover.
A grant from Texas Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area will help pave Hoover’s path.
“It was about a $2 million grant that was awarded from the Department of Labor to the Workforce Board,” said Paul Fletcher, CEO for Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area.
The money is being used to train students in health care careers. Hoover is going to the Central Texas College in Marble Falls to complete her program.
“They helped with everything — tuition, books, supplied and gas,” said Hoover.
Right now, the hospital staffing at Baylor Scott & White in Marble Falls is at a safe level, but the hospital’s president said that’s by the grace of many staff members working countless hours of overtime.
“The lure of the bigger city is where they want to be. Many of them trained in the bigger city,” said Timothy Ols, Hill Country Baylor Scott & White president. “Sometimes it’s a challenge to say ‘hey, come to the small town, you can do that… we’re within striking distance of the bigger city.'”
Ols believes programs like the one launched through Workforce Solutions will provide an easier way for people to transition into health care.
“So many people are interested in it, but they see the tuition,” said Ols. “The time away from work is what makes it difficult for them.”
There are several different health care occupations participants can go into through this initiative, including becoming a certified nursing assistant, a home health aide and a mental health counselor.