Editorial l Investing in future health care providers

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THE ISSUE: Citrus County Hospital Board may donate a $1 million endowment to benefit health care students at College of Central Florida.

OUR OPINION: Great investment that comes with hopes for recipients to stay local.

At its recent meeting, the Citrus County Hospital Board (CCHB) proposed giving a $1 million endowment to the College of Central Florida Foundation for the benefit of Citrus County students enrolled in health care programs. The CCHB owns Citrus Memorial Hospital on behalf of the public, and is the entity that leased the facility to Hospital Corporation of America (HCA).

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CCHB asked its attorney to draw up a memorandum of understanding for review by the college’s board. They want the college to invest the gift, using the investment proceeds to pay tuition for Citrus County health care program students who have exhausted other forms of financial assistance. We applaud this gesture, and hope the two entities can agree on terms.

Health care is one of the targeted industries here, and program graduates are practically guaranteed employment locally. According to CareerSource, there have been far more job postings than hires. The need spans the range of functions, from health care practitioners, to technical occupations in health care, to health care support occupations of all types. In a county with a significant proportion of 65-and-older population, health care will continue to be important.

The hope is, of course, that students who emerge with degrees or certifications in health care fields will remain in Citrus County to practice. Financial aid generally comes with strings attached, and it might be worth considering that this assistance award could include a requirement for a term of local work, perhaps at the hospital itself if appropriate.

Health care is a solid career choice for younger students or for those making mid-career changes. Training is available; we hope more people will consider it.