The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) was approved for a $250,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration that will allow the university to conduct a healthcare needs assessment of Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties over the next year.
The needs assessment will be a comprehensive study of healthcare systems in the three county area and will attempt to uncover holes in insurance coverage, emergency room care, public health, gerontology, office administration, and more.
“This full assessment will give USF Sarasota-Manatee a good handle on what is needed educationally in the healthcare sector of our community,” said Dr. Arthur Guilford, Regional Chancellor of USFSM. “We plan to create university level programming to fill that void and meet local needs.”
Meeting local healthcare needs has been an educational challenge in the past, and USFSM’s plan to provide quality programming has been welcomed by the local healthcare industry. The university is working with Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Manatee Memorial Hospital to provide hands on learning for students.
Some shortfalls that USFSM plans to research include a shortage of nurses in Sarasota and Manatee counties, demand for health-care professionals under new Federal health care legislation, low enrollments in locally-offered nursing courses for the RN to BS degree, and dated simulated-patient equipment for the training of health care professionals.
The study will be led by Lakewood Ranch resident Linda deMello, whose past experiences include developing high achievement teams, alliance networks and nationally acclaimed programs and services in the fields of health care, workforce development and higher education. deMello was formerly the Executive Director of the ALS Association Greater Bay Area Chapter in San Francisco, Ca., President and CEO of Alumnae Resources, and Associate Dean of Students at Notre Dame de Namur University in California.
“I’m excited about this needs assessment because it will enable USF Sarasota-Manatee to align its educational resources with the needs and opportunities in healthcare in this area, ultimately creating a higher quality workforce as well as contributing to the economic viability of the region,” deMello said. “I think we’re going to look back on this time as a turning point in university history.”
With extensive experience in leadership, needs assessments, and organization capacity building, deMello seems the perfect fit for the job. She has received the “Women Who Could Be President Award” from the League of Women Voters, a Community Leadership and Women Who Make a Difference Award, and an Honorary Ph.D. in Humane Letters from Golden Gate University. Another needs assessment employee will be located in USFSM’s new Instructional Site in North Port.
“This grant will provide funding for USF Sarasota-Manatee to create an academic infrastructure that develops a diverse, culturally competent health workforce that provides the highest quality of care for all, particularly the underserved,” Guilford said. “Our goal is to eliminate health barriers, assure quality of care, and improve public health and health care systems by improving the local workforce.”