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A Community Fights for Light Rail, and its Health

Jun 16, 2014, 8:43 PM, Posted by Doran Schrantz

After 15 years of hard work and tireless commitment on the part of so many people—elected officials, engineers, urban planners, community leaders―the Green Line light rail line connecting downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul is open for riders. The light rail runs through the very heart of the Twin Cities region and touches people in every walk of life—with the potential to transform economic opportunity, equity, and health.

It is our hope that once residents begin to use the line, they will find it easier to get to places where they can buy affordable healthy foods. Air quality will improve because there are fewer cars on the road. People may even lose some weight―a study in Charlotte showed that a year after that city opened a rail line, residents who used it regularly shed a few pounds.

But even as we celebrate the Green Line, we also want to solidify the lessons we have learned over the past decade and a half spent designing and building the project. Because a critical part of the Green Line’s story is how its planning and construction created the opportunity for communities to organize themselves, to ensure that this historic opportunity did not pass them by.

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Milwaukee Nurses Rebuild Pipeline of Public Health Nurses

Jan 18, 2012, 2:30 PM, Posted by Paula Lucey

By Paula Lucey, MSN, RN, Administrator, Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program alumna (1999-2001)

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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Partners Investing in Nursing program (commonly called PIN) is a wonderful way to address nursing workforce efforts. The Foundation created this program with the concept that nursing workforce efforts needed to become the work of not only nursing but the work of partnership with local foundations and employers.

In Milwaukee, our first PIN grant focused on the impending crisis in public health related to the nursing workforce. We had data that suggested that upwards of 50 percent of the current workforce could retire in the next five years. While not all will do so, this was a wake up call that we needed to begin to work to develop the next generation of public health nurses.

Our program was able to energize some senior nursing students to consider careers in public health. While our numbers were under 20, the students spread the word to their fellow students, and we believe we created a ripple of interest among students at several of the local BSN programs.

As important as the immediate efforts related to these students were, some of the project’s accomplishments will form the foundation for long-term solutions. The most important was increased awareness of the importance of public health and the vital role that nursing plays among our three foundation partners.

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