Umpqua Community College will receive $500,000 in financial assistance from CHI Mercy Medical Center to revive its nationally accredited nursing program, according to Kelly Morgan, CEO of Mercy Medical.

Morgan made the statement during Tuesday’s meeting of the Umpqua Valley Development Corporation, a group consisting of community members looking to build a new medical college in Roseburg.

“What we’ve agreed to do is: we will provide $100,000 to UCC for each of the next five years so they can go back and get their accreditation and retain it,” Morgan said. “That way we can train more nurses here and accommodate all the needs for George Fox as well as UCC.”

CHI Mercy Medical spokesperson Kathleen Nickel did not respond to requests for more information as of Thursday morning.

“This will just be a huge win for the college. It will really help this new program that George Fox is going to bring to the community,” UCC board chair Steve Loosley said. “The gesture, the graciousness of Mercy hospital to help fund this position. When I first heard it I was emotionally moved. It’s a really kind thing to do and it just shows Mercy’s commitment to Umpqua and to the community to make this program work.”

George Fox University signed an agreement in March 2019 to offer bachelor’s and advanced degrees in various medical fields at the proposed new college.

UCC and George Fox University would both need to place students at medical facilities in the area for clinical rotations, a task Mercy Medical Center is unable to take on by itself.

“If we’re going to have a (bachelor of science in nursing) program here in town, obviously the VA needs to be in the clinical rotation,” Morgan said. “The two directors of nursing met with some of the folks from George Fox and from UCC. So long as UCC gets their federal accreditation back, we can accommodate all the rotations with the expanded UCC associate nursing degree as well as the BSN.”

Building a medical college in Roseburg in an effort to get more medical personnel in the area and boost the local economy has been in the works for more than a decade.

In the past two years, the project saw a $10 million financial commitment from the state, a $10 million commitment from the city and an agreement with George Fox University to provide the education.

Umpqua Community College has a growing state-accredited nursing program that will accommodate 64 students this fall, most of whom will have clinical cohorts at CHI Mercy Medical Center.

“The last few months here, the college has been working all-hands-on-deck to grow the cohort up to 64. It’s taken a lot of effort to get there,” Loosley said. “Now that that’s under our belt, my understanding is in the near future that this is on the radar to begin on regaining the national accreditation. I think it’s sooner rather than later, this is a priority for the college.”

The school dropped its national accreditation in 2018 due to budgetary and time constraints. Students with a two-year nursing degree need to be nationally accredited to work for the Roseburg VA Medical Center.

It is unclear how long it would take the college to regain national accreditation and whether UCC wants to regain its national accreditation.

Loosley was present at the Umpqua Valley Development Corporation meeting and is a member of several boards related to health care in the community.

“I think it’ll be really good,” Loosley said. “It’s a huge win for everybody in our community. It’s a big win for the medical college. It’s a win for Umpqua. It will certainly help the overall health care in our community.”

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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Mike

I'm confused (happens all the time). First, the article says Mercy has committed to give UCC $500,000 to regain its national nursing accreditation. Then it says it is unclear "whether UCC wants to regain its national accreditation." Shouldn't determining whether UCC wants to regain it national accreditation have been the first thing to decide?

Second, if UCC becomes nationally accredited for nursing, is there then one less reason to build the new Fox University Medical School in Roseburg?

Sanne Godfrey Staff
Sanne Godfrey

Clarifications (hopefully):

First: The News-Review was unable to reach a college administrator to confirm whether the college had accepted the gift and/or whether the college wants to regain national accreditation. So, it is possible that UCC will turn down half a million dollars.. if that happens we'll follow up. However, we felt pretty certain after talking with UCC board chair Steve Loosley that the college would accept and move forward. BUT the school board doesn't get to choose whether to accept this, so it's possible (although unlikely) that the college doesn't move forward with this.

Second: If UCC become nationally accredited for nursing it means students would be able to do clinical trials at Roseburg VA. They can still only get an associates degree in nursing at UCC. If a student wants a bachelors degree in nursing, they'd have to go to another school. George Fox University plans to offer several different career paths in the medical field, including social work and physical therapy — all bachelor's and higher degree, none of which are available at UCC.

Mike

Thank you for the clarifications. What now is the status of George Fox University since the big meeting last week?

Cindyblinn

The truth is you have to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing to work at the VA. They don’t hire nurses with AS degrees. The VA does not have the clinical milieus to train student nurses to work in a hospital setting. I wish they did. They’ve got great psych rotations but can probably only handle 4 to 6 students a shift in each of the two programs they have.

All valid nursing programs must be approved by the state board of nursing. UCC received a valiant award of an 8 year approval. The highest approval given.

Few at the community college level have National Accreditation. It’s expensive, a lot of paper work and not much benefit to the students or program. Three in the state of Oregon to be exact have one. Rogue Community College Gabe theirs up a while back. Their local paper hasn’t beat it into the ground. It was hardly a blip on the screen.

Here’s what Lane Community College states on their website.

“Nursing - approved by the Oregon State Board of Nursing. Lane is a member of the Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education (OCNE) and offers a competency-based curriculum. OCNE is a partnership of Oregon nursing programs dedicated to educating future nurses. Faculty from eleven community colleges and six university campuses created – and continue to develop – a shared curriculum taught on all consortium campuses.”

Guess what? Rogue and Umpqua can say the exact same thing. We are all part of OCNE. It’s an honor to be part of Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education (OCNE). We share and learn so much from each other. It adds depth to our program.

You ask if we will accept the gift?

Of course, UCC will graciously accept the gift from Mercy. Are we thankful for the generous offer - the answer is Yes.

The problem comes when the News Review is fixated on the National Accreditation and not on what education UCC provides it’s nursing students. When the News Review says out loud over and over again that UCC Nursing is not accredited it’s misleading. When people in our community read that they think our program has been closed down. This is far from the truth - it’s alive and thriving!

Do we need the accreditation to provide a highly sought out effective program? No. Is it like the icing on the cake? Not really - it’s more like a decoration - one of those fondant flowers that makes the cake look real pretty but doesn’t really add flavor - most people actually remove them before eating the cake.

I’m not sure why the News Review has a bee in their bonnet about this accreditation business. It seems as though you run it every couple of months. It’s misleading at best and malicious at worst. As a nurse practitioner who travels throughout the Umpqua region, I meet people all the time that are surprised that UCC has a thriving nursing program. I am constantly having to set the record straight and undo the misconceptions your articles on accreditation have given.

The caliber of the program UCC runs is top notch. We are so blessed to have this gem in Douglas county. It’s an honor to work alongside a team that really cares about students and patients and is dedicated to each one. Each of us on staff brings an unique array of gifts, skills, and experiences to the table. We all give above and beyond. It sure would be nice if the News Review would focus their attention to this and highlight the phenomenal nurses we are graduating each year.

It is also important to note for our community members that the day UCC nursing students are admitted to our program, they are admitted to OHSU’s bachelor of nursing program. Once they graduate from UCC - they can seamlessly enter OHSU and complete their bachelor’s - most students that go on complete it online. It’s a win win and super cool. I think that gets lost in all the talk about accreditation.

Please stop harping on accreditation. Unfortunately, our local VA doesn’t have a hospital floor where our students can learn what they need to think like a nurse. Today’s nursing students need time on a hospital floor learning to take care of multiple patients at one time with complex chronic conditions. This provides the opportunity to learn time management, nursing skills, therapeutic communication, advocacy, and most importantly critical thinking skills. Nursing is the hardest job I’ve done yet most rewarding and you need critical thinking to do it.

Please - I implore you to stop slamming the priceless gift Umpqua Community College and it’s nursing program are to this area. Start appreciating and sharing the what it brings to the table. It’s a treasure.

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