August 16, 2022
Tallahassee Community College has received $500,000 from Sunshine Health to build on the success of the Gadsden Connect initiative. Gadsden Connect began as a pilot project that launched in 2020 with a primary focus of addressing the shortage of healthcare workers by providing scholarships to Gadsden County residents who meet the eligibility criteria for Nursing Assistant and Home Health Aide certification programs. In the pilot year, 60 Gadsden County residents enrolled and completed the program.
Through their generous donation, Sunshine Health Works programs and scholarships will be available to students in the entire service area of TCC.
“This announcement is such an amazing shot in the arm to really elevate what we’re doing in Gadsden County, in particular with the Gadsden Connect initiative,” said Dr. Jim Murdaugh, president of TCC. “Students who go through our institution in programs like these get jobs and get jobs that pay well in high-demand fields. I cannot thank Sunshine Health enough for what they’re doing.”
“We want to ensure that the healthiest communities are possible for all Floridians,” said Nathan Landsbaum, CEO of Sunshine Health. “We joined forces with TCC to remove financial barriers that hinder people from going into the healthcare field through Gadsden Connect which empowered students to jump-start their careers in healthcare. By providing them with industry-recognized training and certifications, the programs not only made them more marketable for the workplace, but local employers also benefitted by being able to hire much-needed, skilled healthcare workers. Now, we are pleased to say that TCC and Sunshine Health are partnering to replicate this success statewide.”
Plans are underway to expand Sunshine Health Works to Broward College in Fort Lauderdale and Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.
“The demand for talent and having an established workforce is probably more critical than ever before and it’s certainly not far-fetched that a business would look for a strategy to meet that specific need,” said Dr. Kimberly Moore, Vice President of Workforce Development at TCC. “However, what’s not so common is what Sunshine Health is opted to do. Nearly two years ago we had our first conversation with the focus on making an investment in Gadsden County where we knew that the community ranked 65 out of 67 counties in Florida in health outcomes and had one of the highest rates of unemployment. The conversations took on a different form and it became a discussion more about impact, and what it means to create access and opportunity for a community. Sunshine Health, I have learned, is a company who is committed to the communities that it serves.”
Elizabeth Aviles, a life-long Gadsden County resident is the perfect example of what a program like this can do. “My story with TCC began as a promise,” said Aviles. “I promised my daughter that if she had the courage to apply for nursing school, I would go back to get my GED.” Aviles earned her GED in record-time and immediately applied for the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program through Gadsden Connect. “After being a housewife and mother for 30 years, I can now be an example to my girls. With hard work and dedication, dreams are possible. Now that my children are adults, I knew I wanted to do something more. Thanks to TCC CNA program, I discovered a love and dedication to the medical field.”
Headquartered in Broward County and with offices across the state, Sunshine Health is among the largest healthcare plans in Florida. Offering coordinated care and a network of support for their members, Sunshine Health is transforming the health of the community, one person at a time. Sunshine Health is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, a diversified, multi-national healthcare enterprise. Sunshine Health offers government-sponsored managed care through Medicaid, Long Term Care, the Health Insurance Marketplace (Ambetter), and Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans (Wellcare). Specialty plans include the Child Welfare Specialty Plan serving children in or adopted from the state's Child Welfare system; the Serious Mental Illness Specialty Plan for people living with serious mental illness; and the Children's Medical Services Health Plan, operated by Sunshine Health on behalf of the Florida Department of Health for children and adolescents with special healthcare needs.