Alabamians today are confronted with a declining rate of health status and disjointed goals among our state’s healthcare organizations. Currently, Alabama lacks the ability to track career progression among nursing professionals to assess the state’s need now and for the future. To understand AL-HAC’s history, it is vital to understand the despondent landscape of Alabama’s healthcare at the time of AL-HAC’s inception.
In 2011, Alabama ranked 46th in health status among all states (a drop in ranks from previous two years). Alabama also has higher rates of adults who report being in fair or poor health, premature death, preventable hospital stays, children living in poverty, and obesity. Alabama also has fewer primary care physicians and dentists. Listed below are some of the concerning facts and trends in healthcare for Alabama:
All of Alabama’s 67 counties contain federally designated medically underserved areas or medically underserved populations
Of Alabama’s 67 counties, 62 are designated as health professional shortage areas
Infant mortality rate ranks 48th in the United States
Mortality rates in Alabama are higher than national rates for strokes, heart disease, accidents, pulmonary disease and cancer
The impending nursing shortage in Alabama will affect all areas of the health care delivery system, particularly hospitals and rural areas where the demand for a qualified nurse workforce is the greatest
Despite a growing number of culturally diverse patients in Alabama, the diversity among nursing professionals has shown little to no growth in recent years, contributing to further health disparities in Alabama’s population
In 2012, a small group of nursing professionals with decades of experience and leadership in the nursing profession, recognized the need to reverse the declining ranks in Alabama’s health care and established the state’s first Action Coalition to improve the future of healthcare for our citizens. The initial collaboration between nursing professionals garnered attention from local nursing and non-nursing organizations in addition to community leaders who wanted to affectively influence the future of Alabama’s health care, thus developing into the Alabama Health Action Coalition (AL-HAC).
AL-HAC was first convened to focus on advancing the Future of Nursing (FON): Campaign for Action, a national collaboration created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the AARP Foundation. AL-HAC received recognition as a State Action Coalition by the Campaign for Action in the Spring of 2012. This initiative was designed to ensure that all Americans have access to high quality, patient-centered health care, with nurses practicing to the full extent of their training and education.
By November 2013, AL-HAC had raised over $75,000 in its first capital campaign thereby making AL-HAC eligible for matching 2:1 grant funds from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), State Implementation Program (SIP), a $4.5 million nationwide initiative seeking to implement the recommended changes from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The Alabama Health Action Coalition incorporates the Future of Nursing Campaign and broadens our scope to include the Healthy People 2020 initiatives with the goal of enhancing health outcomes for all Alabamians.
As a recipient of the SIP grant, AL-HAC received resources to assist with the implementation of the IOM’s report recommendations. Through SIP guidance, AL-HAC has established its initial work plan—a complex, multi-step plan that specifies goals and objectives through November 2015. AL-HAC also has a diverse group of supporters that includes key influencers in Alabama. Not only does AL-HAC have an established donor base from its initial capital campaign, it is also supported through in-kind support from several of Alabama’s largest universities, a core group of over 40 stakeholders representing statewide professionals with a vested interest in better healthcare in Alabama, and a list of other partners. One such partner is the Alabama Hospital Association (AlaHA) and its Research and Education Foundation. AL-HAC established its nonprofit status through its affiliation with AlaHA continuing today. AlaHA is not only a collaborating partner, it is represented on AL-HAC’s leadership team through one our four co-leads.
AL-HAC believes that with inter-professional and community collaboration, the seriously negative health trends that challenge Alabama today can be reversed and that we can shape a better future for the healthcare of all citizens of Alabama.