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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Amy Ford
East Central University
Communications and Marketing
580-559-5650 405-812-1428 (cell)
Or Dr. Debbie Flowers 580-745-3199
TEXOMA HEALTH FOUNDATION AWARDS GRANT TO ECU'S NURSING PROGRAM AT SOUTHEASTERN
The Texoma Health Foundation has approved a three-year, $150,000 grant proposal from East Central University in Ada, Okla., to fund a full-time faculty position for ECU's nursing program in Durant.
The purpose of the THF grant is to increase the number of nursing students graduating each year from the ECU @ Southeastern Nursing Program, which was established on the Southeastern Oklahoma State University campus in 2001.
Dr. Deborah Flowers (front row, from left) and Dr. Gerald Williamson of East Central University in Ada accept a check from Herman Ringler, chairman of the Texoma Health Foundation, and the foundation's Michele Daniel and Michelle Lemming. The gift from the THF will fund a full-time faculty member for three years at the ECU @ Southeastern Nursing Program on the Southeastern Oklahoma State University campus in Durant. Also on hand for the presentation were Dr. Lucretia Scoufos (back row) of SE, Jim Vidmar of Landmark Bank and Dr. Bruce Weems of ECU.
"Southeastern is proud to partner with ECU on this program," said Dr. Lucretia Scoufos, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at Southeastern. "It's a win-win situation for everyone involved, from the institutions to the students and ultimately to the communities that receive these health services. We are also very appreciative of the support provided to the program by the Texoma Health Foundation."
Herman Ringler, chairman of THF, presented the award to ECU on Thursday [FEB. 26] on the SE campus.
Dr. Deborah Flowers, ECU professor of nursing and program coordinator of the ECU @ SE nursing program, has been the primary nursing faculty member on the Southeastern campus. ECU nursing faculty travel from Ada to Durant weekly to teach classes. They also teach classes on the ECU campus which are transmitted to SE classrooms by interactive television.
"One of THF's three priority areas is to increase and retain healthcare professionals in our service area," said Michelle Lemming, the foundation's president and chief executive officer. "ECU's nursing program has an excellent reputation. We are honored to be a part of this partnership and look forward to having additional new nurses available each year to help providers and residents in our area."
Texoma Health Foundation serves residents in Bryan and Marshall Counties in Oklahoma and Grayson and Fannin Counties in Texas.
"THF administers programs and supports nonprofits that advance the health of people in our service area," Ringler said. "We have allocated over $600,000 in funds since our inception in 2007 and we are excited to begin this partnership. The grant to ECU will be the first grant from THF to an organization in Oklahoma."
Lemming said the site visit to deliver funds to ECU was one of the first joint efforts with THF's new corporate sponsors, which include Grayson Home Health and Landmark Bank.
"Both of these organizations help assure that the foundation is able to offer programs and services to residents in need and we are privileged to have them both on our team," Lemming said.
Jim Vidmar, vice president and regional marketing director of Landmark Bank, attended the presentation to support the expansion of the ECU program.
"We are excited to be a corporate sponsor of the Texoma Health Foundation," Vidmar said. "This partnership further reinforces Landmark Bank's commitment to communities we serve in the Texoma area."
Students in the Durant and northern Texas areas can complete coursework to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing from ECU without leaving the SE campus. Their clinical requirements also are completed in the Durant and North Texas area. The only time the ECU @ SE nursing students are required to go to the ECU campus in Ada is for graduation at the end of the program.
"This partnership between ECU and Southeastern already is benefitting southern Oklahoma and northern Texas," said Dr. Joseph Catalano, chair of ECU's Department of Nursing. "Thanks to the Texoma Health Foundation, adding one additional faculty member in Durant will make a big difference in the number of new registered nurses we can graduate to help meet the health care needs of people in these areas."
An additional faculty member also will allow nursing faculty the time to provide more one-on-one mentoring, advisement and retention support for each student, Flowers said.
"This will help our efforts to increase the graduation rate of high quality Registered Nurses and help reduce the shortage of nurses in the four THF service-area counties," she said. "Research has shown that increased contact time between faculty and students for advisement and instruction is one of the critical elements in improving retention and graduation rates."
She said the grant would reduce the current faculty/student contact ratio on the ECU @ SE campus from one faculty member to 43 students to one faculty member for about 22 students.
Kristy Lankford has been hired for the new position which will be funded by the grant through the 2011-12 academic years. ECU will pay the costs of employee benefits and will pick up the entire cost of the position after three years.
Flowers said a 2006 Oklahoma study by the Governor's Council on Workforce and Economic Development projected a shortage of 3,135 registered nurses by 2012 if nothing is done to increase the graduation rate of nurses. A similar study by the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies estimates a shortage of 71,000 nurses in Texas by 2020.
For more information about the ECU nursing program, contact Dr. Deborah Flowers at email@example.com or 580-745-3199.
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