I took the rubber band off the Sunday Paper and what was staring me in the face? An excellent article about the national accreditation issues in the Nursing Program at the Umpqua Community College.

The crux of the argument to withdraw from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing was that the program could not afford the approximate cost of $4,700.00. Further justification was provided by Myler that the “decision to end its national accreditation due to budgetary and time constraints”. After over two decades experience in budget requests, justification for line item approvals, and management of the approved budget I deem Myler’s arguments and justification as specious and weak.

From the outside looking in, my observation would be there is little knowledge about the budgeting process or time management to overcome time constraints. Organizationally speaking, there should be a top to bottom review of the management of the program. Such a paltry amount could possibly been had from contingency funds, a supplementary budget request, soliciting assistance from the foundation or from reaching out to community resources. I am sure that if such an effort was undertaken the program would still have its national accreditation.

As chair of a department it is expected the chair is involved with management across the board. Curriculum, teaching staff, support staff, supplies and equipment, and approving the operations budget to ensure students are receiving the education and training that they are paying for. The article also details the impact on graduating students not having a national accreditation and the negative impact this has on employment opportunities. They are excluded from employment in other states, institutions that might have different minimum requirements for employment within the state of Oregon and federal employment.

As noted in the article, the local Veterans Administration Health Center and Hospital needs nurses. Our local citizens will no longer qualify.

For a number of years, the City of Roseburg, The veteran community and the County Board of Commissioners, in concert with the state of Oregon legislators, have been working on fulfilling the dream of Dr. Earle B. Stewart, who over a century ago envisioned a “Soldiers Home” here in Roseburg. His efforts in of least two times lead to frustration and disappointment.

The decades rolled on, and over 10 years ago the cudgel was once again taken up be awarded a State Veterans Home. We are now well on our way to achieving Dr. Stewart’s dream within the next five or so years. The land on the VA Campus is in the process of being deeded over to the state for the home. A great majority of the necessary local and state funding is secured. VA funding will be necessary to continue with construction. Once all the remaining i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed, construction will commence. The newest state Veterans Home in Lebanon is a 154 bed facility. The average of the resident is 81 years with over 38% diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. On a daily basis each patient need approximately 378 minutes of care from a staff of RNs LPNs and CNAs.

As noted, there will be a need for more nursing staff for all levels of care than is presently available in the local labor market. One of the main justifications for placing a Veterans Home here would be that it could be properly staffed locally.

It is my contention that the Nursing Program at Umpqua Community College should be beefing up rather than tearing it down. We need to be nationally accredited — become a pipeline of qualified professional and paraprofessional nurses and assistants, and adding additional programs of shorter duration for LPNs, CNAs, aides, and medical support personnel.

Myself and many, many other veterans, elected officials and citizens have worked too long and too hard and finally to have won a home only to have it possibly delayed because we cannot adequately staff the facility. It is incumbent upon UCC and other local entities to insure that we have an adequate pool of applicants.

It is time for UCC to step up to the plate and assume a leadership role in helping fashion our locality as a place over 150 veterans can call home to be cared for in all the later stages of life. They and their families deserve such services.

In conclusion, the UCC Nursing program can either lead the way for fall by the side. It is my fervid desire to see the Program grow and fulfill its manifest destiny in the valley. Good luck!

Lawrence D. Hill was an HR specialist at San Francisco State University for 22 years, and served 10 years in the HR department for the U.S. Army.

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