Billions going toward public health as part of American Rescue Plan

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Looking at the entire landscape of the health care system is what new funding under the Biden administration is aiming to do.

Roughly $7 billion from the American Rescue Plan is being set aside for the training, recruitment and hiring of health care workers across the country.

In North Carolina, health care educators are talking about how this money could impact students.

“I think that it is sorely needed and it’s going to do a lot more than just COVID-19,” said Dean Lenora Campbell, of North Carolina A&T State University Health and Human Sciences.

Campbell said she believes providing students in this field with more opportunities could be a game-changer for the system as a whole.

“It’s just very exciting that the Biden-Harris team recognizes that we have to have something bold like this to protect the health of the country,” Campbell said.

Protecting the health of the country is vital and pricey. It takes a $7.4-billion chunk of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

A price some health care professionals call an investment.

“The resources are critical. The resources in terms of finances, in terms of scholarships, in terms of recruiting students into those programs so that you have that pipeline,” Campbell said.

More than $4 billion will go to staffing at public health departments to help with vaccine administration, testing and PPE deliveries.

Another $337 million will go to public health laboratory fellowships and internships for undergrad students.

“For many of them it’s not a part of their radar that they can be a part of a team that really is dealing with public health emergencies and then to give them some experience on top of that,” she said.

Programs the dean hopes her health and human science students will benefit from.

“We also need a diverse public health workforce. People who can go into their respective communities and who can provide the kind of assistance and have that kind of credibility that people will hear and listen to,” Campbell said.

The plan will even include a new grant program for those hired for COVID-19 response to further their careers as professionals.

“It’s going to create that pipeline in terms of getting people interested, it will provide the resources for them to be able to engage in that educational experience,” Campbell said.

There’s also money allotted to prepare for future pandemics.

Campbell said what she wanted to see included in the plan is a focus on recruitment beyond college. She said getting students interested earlier on is key.

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