Polk County Funds Healthcare Collaborative

Published 2/22/2023 1:10:02 PM

DES MOINES, IA  The Polk County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday announced a $1 million grant for the creation of a new Health Care Workforce Collaborative in Central Iowa. The funds will have a direct impact on recruiting and retaining a vibrant health care workforce in Central Iowa.


The $1 million investment will jump-start a collaborative effort between educators and the health care community to encourage and connect students interested in a health care career with educational and employment opportunities among the Polk County partners. The initial funding will be used for community outreach and staffing of the Polk County Health Care Workforce Collaborative. Partners include; Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), Grand View University, Des Moines University, Mercy College of Health Sciences, Broadlawns, MercyOne and UnityPoint Health-Des Moines.


Polk County Board Chair Tom Hockensmith says, “We felt very strongly that funds made available from ARPA should be used in a collaborative and strategic manner. We knew that there were tremendous challenges in the health care workforce and we are so thankful that each of the partners here took the collaboration part of this seriously, the only way to solve big problems like health care workforce, is to do it together.”


While other institutes of higher learning will be partners in the Health Care Workforce Collaborative, DMACC will serve in the administrative role of the program. “DMACC is proud to be part of the new Health Care Workforce Collaborative, which will help ensure an increase in the number of students enrolled in health care education,” said DMACC President Rob Denson. “In Central Iowa, there are many great educational opportunities and in-demand careers available for individuals who are interested in health care. This unique collaborative will help educational institutions connect students with employers, supporting both long-term student success and the critical needs of our healthcare community.”


The Polk County Health Care Workforce Collaborative is currently looking for staff to fulfill this mission. To learn more, watch the full announcement here.


What Polk County Health Care Collaborative Partners Are Saying


“A talented and diverse workforce is at the heart of our health care system. Our nation faces a shortage of physicians, nurses and other critical health care providers. Des Moines University recognizes how important it is to educate and recruit tomorrow’s health care heroes to ensure access to care for our community. We are excited to work side by side with other health care educators and leaders in Polk County to strengthen the health care workforce and impact a positive change for those we serve,”

-Angela L. Walker Franklin

President, Licensed Clinical Psychologist -Des Moines University



“There is nothing more important than improving the health status of our community.  Providing high-quality health care requires the continuous recruitment and retention of top talent in the health care field. This effort brings all our health systems together to address significant workforce shortages in a systematic and methodical way. “Many hands make light work,” and the Polk County Health Care Workforce Collaborative makes us stronger together, rather than as one hospital alone.  Thank you to Polk County Board of Supervisors for making this collaborative possible.”

-Tony Coleman, DHA

President/ CEO -Broadlawns Medical Center



“We are proud of the continued collaboration by so many community partners that was so effective during the pandemic. The need for health care workers is greater than ever before and we know that by working together we can meet the health care needs of our community. This collaboration enables us to connect with students interested in health care careers and build a strong healthcare workforce for years to come.”

-David Stark

President/ CEO -UnityPoint Health – Des Moines



“Education is the first step in ensuring a strong and sustainable health care workforce. We are proud to collaborate with institutions that usually compete with each other and are instead working together to solve this community problem. We look forward to engaging more future students and showing them the amazing career opportunities that health care offers and attracting those students into health care educational programs. This collaboration will help students and Polk County succeed.”

-Dr. Carl Moses

Provost/ Vice President for Academic Affairs -Grand View University



"We are excited to be part of the health care workforce collaborative between health care providers and educational partners across Polk County. Health care has faced increasing challenges to fill job opportunities and through this partnership a program has been created to grow a greater interest in health care careers and increase educational opportunities. The ultimate definition of success will be a rapidly growing interest in health care professionals to help provide excellent health care for residents of Polk County and Iowa across our health care organizations."

-Bob Ritz

CEO/ President –MercyOne



"We are excited that this collaborative will expose individuals in our community to healthcare careers they might have never dreamed of otherwise. Ensuring quality healthcare for the future means providing access to high quality education now, and Mercy College is proud to work alongside our collaborative partners to meet that goal. We look forward to continuing to provide opportunities to well-paying and in-demand healthcare occupations for years to come."

-Adreain Henry, OD, EdD,

President of Mercy College of Health Sciences