GARDNER – Mount Wachusett Community College has been awarded state funding to provide suicide prevention training to more than 730 Heywood Hospital healthcare employees. MWCC is the only one of 10 community colleges in Massachusetts awarded two grants totaling $123,073 in Rapid Response funding, Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland announced Tuesday, May 28.
With $73,968 of the funding, MWCC and Heywood Hospital will partner to provide healthcare workers with training in suicide prevention techniques to address a regional concern. Gardner and its surrounding area have experienced a suicide rate that far exceeds the state average. The remaining $49,105 funds will be utilized to address “skills gap” training needs with another growing company in Gardner, TerraTherm. This additional partnership will allow for career growth within the incumbent staff, freeing up space for newer job growth and expanded economic development.
The suicide prevention training, which will increase the likelihood that a patient considering suicide will encounter an intervention within the healthcare system, will be provided to employees from across the hospital’s system of care, including primary care providers, nurses, and other allied health workers.
“We have long partnered with Heywood Hospital on a variety of health, wellness and academic training programs, and we are grateful to receive funding for this new initiative,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “This training for Heywood’s health care workers will ultimately benefit countless lives and families in our region at a time when they are most in need of support, compassion and assistance.”
“This funding provides a solid foundation for all employees to become knowledgeable of suicide prevention techniques, and significantly enhances the efforts of the Greater Gardner Suicide Prevention Task Force, an initiative of Heywood Hospital,” said Heywood Hospital President and CEO, Win Brown. “Suicide rates in our region are reaching epidemic proportions. We are pleased to continue to work in partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College to address the needs of our community.”
The grant program reflects the goals of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s community college agenda, specifically the commitment to create new opportunities for locally developed, regionally specific jobs and skills training. In some cases, local employers project that training opportunities through the Rapid Response program will allow them to grow the number of jobs available in their companies. Many of the grants are also designed to help community colleges meet the scheduling needs of working adults by providing classes at their place of employment.
“These grants offer a lifeline to employees who are eager for training but who may lack the means to advance their education,” said Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland. “For our community colleges and local business and industry, the grants offer a chance to work together in common cause, building those ‘middle skills’ so essential to meaningful employment opportunities and industry growth.”