New Nursing Innovation Center to Address Nursing Shortage and Improve Patient Outcomes

KANSAS CITY, MO – The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas (Health Forward) and the REACH Healthcare Foundation have been selected as two of 18 foundations nationwide to receive funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations’ (RWJF) Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future (PIN) initiative to create a new Bi-State Nursing Workforce Innovation Center.

The Center will be located at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing and will focus on improving the nursing environment in order to retain quality nurses within the community. The Center will be developed and implemented with funds from Health Forward ($250,838 cash and $78,339 in-kind), RWJ ($250,000), REACH ($105,000), Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics ($40,000) and UMKC School of Nursing ($24,000 in-kind).

“We are excited to be nationally recognized by the RWJF for this project, which is the first of its kind in the country,” said Mary McEniry, Health Forward Program Officer. “Although some states have nursing centers that focus on gathering data, no other group has a bi-state center that serves as a catalyst and regional think tank for innovative ideas and implementation strategies, all focused on improving patient outcomes for the most vulnerable patients.”

In its first two years, the Center will:

Survey local hospitals/clinics to identify work environment issues for improvement
Create a Clinical Scene Investigator Academy (CSI) to provide education and technical support for selected staff nurses in three inpatient settings within the region
Conduct a regional conference on nursing workforce innovation
Susan Lacey, PhD, RN and Director of the Nursing Workforce and Systems Analysis at Children’s Mercy Hospital will serve as Project Director for the Center. “We believe the Center will serve as a national model for strategic innovation in healthcare transformation. It is truly one of a kind.”

Need for such a center was determined after Health Forward and REACH conducted an environmental scan of regional public schools of nursing and key community health leaders. The scan identified several key issues that converged to create a looming nursing crisis, including:

Demand that outstrips supply fueled by growing baby boomer population
Supply that is limited by the ability of nursing schools to accept qualified applicants due to an aging faculty, limitations on number of clinical sites, aging nursing workforce and a large number of nurses who are leaving the field early due to dissatisfaction and burnout
“Many experts have indicated that the demand will outstrip the supply of nurses, but that reflects maintaining the status quo in how nurses practice and how the healthcare systems use the available nursing resources,” said Lacey. “This Center chooses a different approach – one that is far more innovative and forward thinking. We believe we can meet the demands with the available resources if we help to improve the environment in which nurses are working.”

Led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation, PIN energizes local foundations to act as community catalysts to develop strategies for creating and sustaining a viable nursing workforce. The 10 grants awarded this year represent the involvement of 18 local foundations and diverse other funding sources.

“As the severity of the nursing shortage continues to grow, the stability and quality of our nation’s health care stands at risk,” said Susan B. Hassmiller, R.N., Ph.D., F.A.A.N., senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “It’s not only a national problem, but a local issue that demands community-based interventions and innovative solutions.”

This marks the third year of a five-year, $10 million commitment by Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future which funds partnerships of up to $250,000 each. During the program’s first two years, 21 foundation partners in 19 states established more than 215 local partnerships between nursing organizations, funders and workforce development boards to address the nursing shortage. Health Forward and REACH are the first organizations to be funded in Missouri and Kansas. For more information about Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future, go to

“The nursing shortage crisis is an important issue for all of us,” said Brenda Sharpe, President/CEO of the REACH Healthcare Foundation. “We are honored to have convened so many qualified organizations to work together to better the quality of life for those in our community.”