HARTFORD – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the Connecticut Department of Public Health has been awarded a $32,253,484 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will be used to support the state agency’s newly launched Office of Public Heath Workforce Development.
The initiative was created by Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD, in August and is operating directly out of her office. It will have a broad focus on ensuring that the workforce development needs at state, local, and nonprofit public health agencies are met, specifically regarding future pipeline development academic and professional training, standards of practice, and workforce diversification.
The federal funding was awarded through the CDC’s Strengthening U.S. Public Health Infrastructure, Workforce, and Data Systems grant, which is a groundbreaking investment that supports critical public health infrastructure needs of jurisdictions across the United States.
The governor made the announcement during a news conference that was held at Gateway Community College in New Haven, which is one of the schools of the Connecticut State College and Universities (CSCU) system that will be developing new pathways to public health care careers with new associates degree and certificate programs in public health.
“The COVID-19 pandemic made clear that our ability to respond to public health threats hinges on the people in our local, state, and federal health departments. From day one, they have been in the trenches, working tirelessly to keep our families and communities safe. This grant will help support these dedicated public servants and ensure we have the workforce we need to respond to future public health emergencies,” said Senator Murphy.
“This is a first-of-its-kind investment of more than $32 million over the next five years that will specifically and directly support the Connecticut public health workforce,” Governor Lamont said. “Additionally, more than $12 million from this grant will be distributed directly to local health departments to assist them with supporting their infrastructure, their own workforce development, and their needs for post-COVID-19 recovery and rebuilding.”
“All our local health departments have been the boots on the ground and an invaluable resource to us as a department and to their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Commissioner Juthani said. “We are very happy to have them partner with us in this initiative. In addition to supporting all the great public health workers currently working in our state, this money will also be used to build the pipeline of future public health workers who will be ready and able to respond to new and emerging public health threats.”
Commissioner Juthani added that the Department of Public Health will be working with academic partners to ensure that the existing public health education landscape in Connecticut continues to produce a sufficiently sized, well-trained, and diverse workforce to address the needs of communities throughout the state.
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted just how important our health care workers are – going above and beyond to help others every day,” U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said. “This significant investment will support the work our health care heroes are already doing on the ground and help Connecticut grow its public health work force. I am so pleased that the CDC awarded Connecticut this funding and I will keep fighting for more resources to ensure the health and safety of our communities.”
“Under Governor Lamont’s leadership, Connecticut has been a leader in pandemic recovery, and this historic investment in our state’s public health workforce and infrastructure will pay dividends in the years to come,” U.S. Representative John B. Larson (CT-01) said. “It is especially critical that funding will directly support the local health departments who best know the unique needs in each of their communities. I am committed to supporting efforts to bolster public health preparedness so we can come out of this pandemic stronger than before. I was proud to stand with Chairwoman DeLauro and the entire Connecticut delegation to support this grant program aimed at doing just that.”
“Investing in a stronger, more skilled workforce to power our economy and improve people’s lives was one of the most important goals of the American Rescue Plan Act, and there’s no better sector to focus these efforts on right now than public health,” U.S. Representative Joe Courtney (CT-02) said. “We’ve got to do more to care for and train up the next generation of qualified health care professionals that we need to help prevent illness and treat it. There are already some promising health care training programs in the district at Three Rivers Community College that have demonstrated that an accelerated curriculum for hospital staffing does work, and that’s exactly the sort of effort this grant program was intended to support. I’m glad to see these resources coming home to Connecticut to bolster our public health infrastructure and workforce.”
Some other goals of the Office of Public Health Workforce Development include: