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Area Hospitals Partner with CCC to Train Future Nurses

DATE: 01-02-2003

To help relieve the shortage of registered nurses for Oswego County health care providers, a new educational partnership will deliver nursing education to the students' doorstep, at a high-tech learning center in Fulton.

The program promises to improve the staffing pool for area hospitals, while enhancing career prospects for would-be nurses. It will offer unprecedented educational access to Oswego County residents who want to pursue a nursing degree but face schedule pressures involving transportation, jobs, and family care.

The partnership of Oswego Hospital, A. L. Lee Memorial Hospital in Fulton, and Cayuga Community College will enable 20 students at a time to complete a Fulton-based nursing program leading to the Associate in Applied Science degree. This degree qualifies the graduate to take the national examination for licensing as a registered nurse. Without such a partnership program, students would have to reside in-or commute to-another county to pursue a nursing degree.

A signing ceremony at the Cayuga Community College Fulton Center, located in the Fulton Commons plaza on Route 3, will bring the three institutions' CEOs together on January 6, 2003. Dennis Golladay, Ph.D., president of Cayuga Community College; Dennis Casey, executive director and CEO of A. L. Lee Memorial Hospital; and Corte Spencer, RN, Oswego Hospital administrator and CEO, will officially launch the partnership.

Also signing, on behalf of area organizations that contributed funding for the initiative, will be Collene Alexander, director of the Rural Health Network of Oswego County, Joanne Race Borfitz, executive director of the Central New York Area Health Education Center, and Eileen Ensworth, executive director of Integrated Community Planning.

The Fulton Center, a 50,000-square-foot satellite of College's main campus in Auburn, will house the nursing education program.

"It is gratifying to work with health care agencies who share our College's commitment to outstanding nursing education," stated Cayuga Community College president Golladay. "This partnership also supports our mission to help area residents fulfill their career goals through higher education."

The program will use interactive video technology to present theory and academic courses, taught by CCC faculty, in the Fulton Center's distance-learning classrooms. Real-time video and audio of a class session conducted at the College's Auburn campus will be transmitted live to large-screen monitors in the Fulton classroom. The Fulton students, too, will be on camera, for live interaction by both classrooms.

Clinical experience and lab instruction, beginning in the first semester of the program, will be provided at both Lee Memorial and Oswego Hospitals, along with some additional instruction at Syracuse hospitals.

"Through this collaboration," said Nancy Deavers, director of nursing at Lee Memorial, "graduates will already be familiar with our hospital if they come to work here, and we'll know we're getting a well-trained professional."

The costs of the nursing education program are being shared in an innovative partnering arrangement by CCC and the two hospitals. While today's nursing graduates are in critical demand, the cost of a quality degree program is dauntingly high for colleges. The financial assistance of the two partner hospitals helps defray some of the program costs for Cayuga Community College, while increasing the future pool of registered nurses to meet Oswego County's health care needs.

"The national shortage of health care professionals is affecting all hospitals, including Lee Memorial," stated Dennis A. Casey, executive director of that hospital. "We have made a commitment to start addressing this shortage here at home by investing our resources and expertise in training people in our own community."

"Community hospitals offer a unique opportunity for those seeking to enter the health care field," said Corte Spencer, Oswego Hospital administrator and CEO. "We are pleased to work with our fellow providers and Cayuga Community College to offer this educational opportunity for students interested in a career in nursing."

Additional financial support for the program was provided by the Central New York Area Health Education Center, a community-based organization seeking to increase the number and quality of local health care professionals through community-academic partnerships. The Fulton partnership program was coordinated by the Rural Health Network of Oswego County.

"The Fulton nursing education partnership was developed in an atmosphere of trust, collaboration, and communication," said Collene Alexander of Rural Health Network. "This program is a strong foundation to build a pool of 'home-grown' nurses-a priority in Oswego County."

Annette Pittsley of Fulton, who has been studying at the CCC Fulton Center to complete prerequisites for the nursing degree program, will be a member of the fall entering class.

"Taking courses without having to travel is important to me, because I have three children at home," said Pittsley, who is considering a career in adolescent, family, or psychiatric nursing.

"We need nurses right here in our county," she added. "This program will benefit all of our health care providers." "This collaborative effort will serve as a model program to bring nursing education programs to rural communities through distance learning," said Joanne Race Borfitz of CNYAHEC, "and graduates can then go on to work in their own communities."

Students in the Fulton program can study full- or part-time. Twenty students will be admitted for the first semester in fall 2003. The same number will be admitted in the next enrollment cohort in fall 2005.

Capacity is limited, and interest is high among prospective nursing students. An information session for interested candidates will be held at Cayuga Community College's Fulton Center from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 14, 2003. Details on the information session are available at 315-592-4143.

A. L. Lee Memorial Hospital in Fulton is a not-for-profit community hospital with 60 adult medical-surgical beds and 7 intensive care beds. Over 75 percent of the active medical staff members are board certified. The hospital serves over 14,000 patients annually in its emergency room, provides a full range of outpatient testing and surgical services, and operates an adjacent medical office building.

Oswego Hospital is a 164-bed community hospital offering medical/surgical care, surgery, pediatrics, maternity, mental health, laboratory, radiology, primary care, intensive care services, and more. The hospital is part of the Oswego Health system that includes the Manor at Seneca Hill, a skilled nursing facility; Springside at Seneca Hill, a retirement living community; the Fulton Health Services Center; and other services around Oswego County.

The Central New York Area Health Education Center, located in Cortland, is a community-based organization dedicated to improving the quality and availability of health professionals in a 14-county upstate area. CNYAHEC assists in developing training solutions that make use of interdisciplinary education, electronic and distance learning, and student access to library and research resources.

The Rural Health Network of Oswego County includes A. L. Lee Memorial Hospital, long-term care administrators, Northern Oswego County Health Services, Oswego Hospital, Oswego Dental Society, the Oswego County Health and Social Services Departments, Oswego County Mental Health, and Oswego County Opportunities, in a coalition to improve health care quality and access for providers and consumers. Integrated Community Planning, the Oswego County-based parent company, oversees the Child Care Council and Family Services Task Force, as well as Rural Health Network.