Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation of Florence is making a home for the nursing program at Francis Marion University a reality.
The university will receive the largest single gift in its history--a $5 million donation--to build a 30,000-plus square foot building to house the new baccalaureate nursing program.
Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation Board of Trustees approved the gift during a meeting May 18. Foundation Chairman Dr. Frank B. Lee, Sr. and FMU President Fred Carter jointly made the announcement today (May 19) during a news conference on the FMU campus.
“The only area of South Carolina without a stand-alone bachelor’s of nursing program is the Pee Dee,” said Dr. Lee. “According to some estimates, only one in 10 nurses educated outside the Pee Dee returns to practice in the area. It’s not surprising then that hospitals throughout our region face a serious shortage of nurses.”
For that reason, Dr. Lee said, “Building a facility to educate nurses at FMU is a perfect fit for Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation and justifies such a sizeable contribution. It meshes well with the health-related objectives of our foundation,” he said.
“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation’s leaders for sharing our vision of creating a nursing program to serve this region, said Carter. “Not only is this the largest gift ever received by the university, but it catapults our five-year capital campaign well beyond its $12 million goal,” said Carter.
The FMU president also said this is one of the largest private gifts ever received by a state teaching university in South Carolina. Ending its third year, the Campaign for Excellence has now topped $17 million in support of the university, said Carter. The university’s first-ever capital campaign ends in 2006.
Carter said that if Florence is to continue developing as a major medical center, local hospitals will require even more skilled nursing personnel.
Carter and Medical University of South Carolina President Raymond S. Greenberg agreed in February to transfer administrative control to FMU of the baccalaureate nursing program being offered by MUSC on the FMU campus. MUSC has operated the satellite nursing program as an adjunct program at Francis Marion since 1982.
“There is a nursing shortage throughout South Carolina,” said Carter. “As part of our academic mission, we want to make sure we are meeting the demands of our primary service area.
“There is a need within the Pee Dee region for more bachelor-prepared registered nurse professionals,” he added. “There is wide support within the region for FMU to produce more health care professionals. With our strong science programs, it is natural for us to move in this direction.”
According to a 2001 study produced by the S.C. Colleagues in Caring Project, only 34 percent of South Carolina registered nurses have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 44 percent nationally. However, only 22 percent of total registered nurses in seven Pee Dee counties have a bachelor’s degree, according to 2002 data from the Office of Research and Statistics of the Budget and Control Board.
To be located just north of the campus pond and adjacent to the McNair Science Building, the two-story building will contain all classrooms, patient care labs and support spaces needed for an expanded nursing program at FMU.
The exterior of the building will be primarily brick with precast accents to match other buildings on campus. Construction will begin as soon as all necessary state approvals are obtained.
The building’s first floor will include an auditorium situated to allow community use, a patient care lab and administrative offices. The patient care lab will include 16 beds designed to allow for extensive patient care training in a flexible layout. The patient care areas will replicate a typical hospital environment with hospital beds and equipment set-ups to allow a smooth transition to the working environment for greater focus on patient needs. Three special procedure areas will allow specialized training by simulating a birthing room, intensive care area and semi-private areas with bathing facilities.
The second floor will contain classrooms and computer training areas for the nursing program. All classrooms, offices and patient care areas will be networked for computer access and electronic learning.
Carter recently appointed a seven-member committee to assist with the transition of the MUSC nursing program to FMU. This committee will make recommendations to help with that transition as well as examine the feasibility of creating other allied health care programs that would be consistent with the mission of FMU.
MUSC began the satellite nursing program on the FMU campus in 1982 with five students enrolled. Today, there are 61 students enrolled as undergraduate nursing majors, taught by five faculty members. Over the last 22 years, 435 students have earned degrees through this program. While those degrees were awarded by MUSC, those students completed many courses taught by FMU faculty.
In addition, there are currently 204 pre-nursing majors enrolled at FMU, more than a 100 percent increase since 1999 and up 37 percent since last year.
“With this many students interested in a nursing career, our goal will be to broaden the program and educate more qualified nurses to meet the needs of the health care profession,” said Carter.
Located in Florence, Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation was established in 1995 upon the sale of Carolinas Hospital System. This medical system was the result of the merger of two community-based hospitals, Bruce Hospital System, and Florence General Hospital, which were the consummation of the energies, creativity and dedication of Dr. John L. Bruce, Dr. Lamar Lee, and Dr. Frank B. Lee, Sr.
The proceeds from the sale, approximately $90 million, remained in the not-for-profit sector for the benefit of the Florence community. The foundation’s board of trustees (previously the board of Carolinas Hospital System and its predecessor institutions) then opted to organize itself as a private, independent, grantmaking foundation in order to effectively carry out its stated mission. The foundation’s geographic area of interest is currently deemed to be the service areas of its previously owned hospitals.
#177 / 5-19-04 / L, R, dailies