Niagara University receives $500,000 in grants for training nurses, probation officers

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Feb. 15—Niagara University has received two grants totaling $500,000 that will go toward workforce training for nurses and Erie County probation officers.

Both grants come from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. The first donation of $300,000 is for the College of Nursing. It will go toward enhancing the academic preparation of students and improving the quality of care for patients by expanding the use of virtual reality, telemedicine training, and other patient-care simulation experiences and training.

The funds will also support the new position of resilience and resource officer, who will work with pre-service nursing and other students, novice nurses, care teams, and healthcare workers to develop the skills and tools necessary to reduce on-the-job stress and anxiety leading to burnout.

Professional development opportunities will be offered to nursing students, recent graduates, and other healthcare workers.

The other donation of $200,000 will be for expanding specialized training for the Erie County Probation department in the areas of disabilities and substance use disorder. It will increase knowledge and awareness among probation officers, improving probationer healthcare and healthcare-related services, and potentially reducing recidivism among probation clients with complex needs.

"Everyone needs disability awareness training," said David Whalen, the project director of Niagara University's First Responder Disability Awareness Training. "This grant will enable NU FRDAT to extend its customized training to probation staff at the Erie County Probation Department to better prepare them to recognize, identify, approach, interact, and respond to their probationers with disabilities and substance use disorder."

Previous research conducted by faculty in Niagara University's Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice indicated that probationers who have mental health and substance use issues that are not properly addressed are more likely to have their probation revoked or be incarcerated. Without proper training, probation officers are often unable to identify specific needs when not disclosed by probationers.

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers, bolster health outcomes of vulnerable communities, and bridge gaps in health services. Last year, the foundation provided $400,000 to support nursing and public health in the region and $150,000 for customized training for the Niagara County Probation Department.

"At a moment when New York state's health needs are both acute and wide-ranging, the foundation is supporting hundreds of programs addressing the needs of vulnerable New Yorkers and underserved communities across the state," said Alfred F. Kelly Jr., the executive chairman of Visa and chair of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation Board.