Testifiers show support for UNK-UNMC rural health project during legislative hearing for LB 721

Last week, several testifiers voiced their support for a project that would expand health care education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, a member of Bio Nebraska, by utilizing federal funds from the American Rescue Plan.

Article by Tyler Ellyson, UNK Communications

Calling it an opportunity to “change rural Nebraska forever,” University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen and other testifiers voiced their support Thursday for a project that would expand health care education at UNK.

Speaking before the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, Kristensen promoted the proposed Nebraska Rural Health Education Building as a way to address urgent health care workforce shortages while strengthening communities across the state.

“The pandemic has had a major impact on every facet of rural health providers. Clinics and hospitals can confirm the problems they have in hiring staff to provide care to the residents of this state,” he told lawmakers. “These shortages limit the health care that we in rural Nebraska can access, and they severely impact the ability of communities to attract new residents and businesses.”

LB721, which allocates $60 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to the project, is a chance to deliver the high-quality health care rural Nebraska desperately needs and deserves, Kristensen said. “Our goal today is to take once-in-a-lifetime federal funds and expand the world-class skills of UNMC in such a meaningful way that we can change rural Nebraska forever.”