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FMU receives $100,000 from McLeod Health for Nursing Program

FLORENCE – McLeod Health has once again partnered with Francis Marion University to support the university’s nursing program. McLeod Regional Medical Center's President Rob Colones, Chief Nursing Officer Leanne Huminski and FMU Nursing School graduate and McLeod Registered Nurse Megan Welch were on hand Tuesday, Dec. 16, to present a $100,000 gift to FMU.

In the same ceremony, FMU officials presented Colones with a bronze bust cast in the likeness of Gen. Francis Marion.

“We want to thank McLeod Health and Rob Colones for the continuing support to our nursing program,” said FMU President Fred Carter. “Gifts such as this allow us to continue to develop the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and will ultimately provide the resources necessary to fund other comprehensive health programs. This university is very appreciative of McLeod's generosity and support.”

This donation by McLeod Health reflects continued financial support of the nursing program at FMU. This is the third time that McLeod has provided this level of support directly to the nursing program at FMU, in addition to McLeod’s previous contributions to nursing education through the Medical University of South Carolina satellite nursing program at FMU for six years.

The Medical University of South Carolina began operating a satellite nursing program at FMU in 1982. Carter and MUSC President Raymond S. Greenberg agreed in 2004 to transfer control of the program to FMU. Sylvia Lufkin was hired that year to head FMU’s new Department of Nursing, and she has led the effort to hire faculty, develop the curriculum and library resources, recruit students and obtain all necessary accreditations and state approvals.

Bricks and mortar came with the $5.5 million donation made by the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation of Florence toward the Dr. Frank B. Lee Nursing Building, a $7.6 million, 30,000-plus square foot building to house FMU’s stand-alone baccalaureate nursing program. Located just north of the campus pond and adjacent to the McNair Science Building, the two-story building contains all classrooms, patient care labs and support spaces needed for an expanded nursing program at FMU.

Enrollment in the program has doubled since its inception. That increase is a direct result of the quality of the program.

“This gift recognizes the University and its nursing program for their commitment to the development of outstanding health care professionals for the Pee Dee Region, which helps to offset critical shortages in nursing, both statewide and nationally,” stated Leanne Huminski, chief nursing officer for McLeod.

“Because nurses are so vital to health care, the Pee Dee is very fortunate to have two excellent nursing education programs in Florence at Francis Marion University and Florence-Darlington Technical College,” Huminski said. “These two programs are the cornerstone for recruiting, retention and cultivation of exceptional nurses by McLeod and other health care providers in the region.”

This is particularly important in offsetting the state and national shortage of nurses. According to the South Carolina nursing statistics, hospitals across the state are reporting an average nurse vacancy rate of approximately 12.6 percent. The success of the relationships with the two college nursing programs, coupled with strong recruiting efforts, has helped McLeod and other health care providers in the region to reduce their nursing vacancy rate considerably.

The region needs nurses for hospitals, home health services, hospice services, physician offices, school nursing programs and other areas of health care.

“These nursing programs are vital to McLeod as the medical center continues to grow and expand to meet the needs of the region's patients as well as offer enhanced services which will require need additional staffing and nurses,” added Huminski.

Lufkin underscored the importance of the financial support as well as the clinical support in nursing education by McLeod Health.

“The clinical practice piece is what nursing is all about,” said Lufkin. “By participating in patient care at the hospital, our nurses graduate with a more complete understanding of how to care for an individual. In a hospital setting, a nurse needs to not only be able to care for the patient while in the hospital, but also to help prepare them for going home - such as education for home care, and referrals to community agencies.

 “Having McLeod staff function as clinical instructors brings a level of expertise to the program,” said Lufkin. “These clinical instructors meet with the university professors to make sure that what is being taught in class is supported in the clinical environment.”

Additionally, McLeod serves as a learning site for more than 100 nurses a year who are students in local nursing programs.

“Most of our students are from the Pee Dee and want to stay here after graduation to work,” said Lufkin. “Expanding this program to meet the nursing needs of this region is very beneficial to everyone.”

In addition to this year’s gifts to the FMU and FDTC nursing programs, McLeod also offers scholarships to eligible students who need financial aid with nursing school. McLeod scholarships are available to college students who have been accepted in an accredited allied healthcare program such as nursing. For fiscal year 2007-08, McLeod Health awarded scholarships to nursing students in excess of $197,000.

#81 / 12-16-08


Last Published: January 8, 2009 2:51 PM
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