SOURCE: Palm Coast Observer
Even before a global pandemic, there was an increasing need for health care workers.
A 2018 report from global health care staffing consultancy Mercer determined that the U.S. needs to hire 2.3 million new health care workers by 2025 to meet the demand of its aging population.
In Florida — which has the second-highest percentage of residents 65 and older, according to the Population Reference Bureau—the need is felt even stronger. A 2020 study from RegisteredNursing.org found that Florida will have the “highest disparity of nursing supply and demand” by 2030, lacking over 57,000 nurses.
Meeting the need for this shortage at a local level is exactly what Douglas Property & Development aims to do. By creating partnerships with institutions that can educate and prepare students for medical and technical jobs, Palm Coast can provide the healthcare services its older residents need and keep local graduates from leaving the county to find work.
Palm Coast City Council recently approved investing $2.5 million to add a regional campus of Jacksonville University to Town Center. The University of North Florida Mednexus is also building a satellite presence there to provide a pathway for students seeking jobs in healthcare and medicine.
“These strategic alliances create high-paying jobs that keep families here while meeting the service needs of the existing people,” said Jeff Douglas, president of Douglas Property Development, Inc. “That keeps
the community healthy, vibrant, and growing, and takes the pressure off increases in taxes."
While the exact design of the UNF Mednexus campus is still in the works, one of the campus’ features will be a simulation lab provided by AdventHealth. The simulation lab will give students the opportunity to practice hands-on scenarios in crisis and high-risk settings. They’ll simulate code situations, respiratory and cardiac emergencies, psychiatric conditions, and other unfamiliar situations.
“Simulations are set up to mimic crisis and high-risk settings, in which students couldn’t normally take part in a clinical area,” said Dr. Cynthia Cummings, UNF School of Nursing Director. “This early preparation will make the nursing students more fully prepared for the critical environment in acute care that they will be entering and allow for a faster and more effective transition into the patient care setting."
While UNF had originally hoped to start classes in early 2021, enrollment is currently planned for the fall of 2021 or spring of 2022.
JU’s Town Center campus will be the first regional expansion in the university’s 86-year history, and it will eventually become an education corridor offering mental health counseling, nursing, and pathology programs. The Palm Coast campus is currently pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The first cohort of students is expected to start in the fall of 2021.
Douglas believes that by providing education for the future healthcare workforce in the area, Palm Coast can fill the gap of keeping young talent and meeting the increasing demand of high-quality healthcare. And by doing so, making Palm Coast a healthier community.
“Let's capitalize on what we are and who we are,” Douglas said. “Obviously, our big age group is a high consumer of medical services. I’m a consumer of the health services here as well, and so is our family.
The nice thing about growth is that it’s bringing a higher class, better class, more efficient class of service. And we want first-class service for residents for all aspects of their livelihood."
In addition to the healthcare training and educational institutions, DPD is revitalizing Palm Coast’s Town Center with more housing, food services, office space, and entertainment.