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September 13, 2012

Clark Foundation grant will benefit Hartwick nursing program


ONEONTA — Hartwick College is the recipient of a grant of $250,000, payable over two years, from The Clark Foundation. The funding will be used to acquire the next generation of distance education and simulation equipment for the Hartwick Department of Nursing to help address an ongoing need for nurses in rural parts of the state, according to a media release from the college.

“The Board of Directors of The Clark Foundation is delighted to be supporting Hartwick so we can begin to immediately address the nursing shortage in rural regions,” Jane Forbes Clark, President of The Clark Foundation said in the release. “The graduates of Hartwick’s nursing program are very talented individuals who are needed urgently, and we feel that this program will help sustain the nursing needs well into the future.”

According to the release, data from the New York State Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that the demand for RNs in the state will exceed supply by 37,000 by 2015.

Only eight percent of New York State’s registered nurses work in rural counties. According to the Hospital Association of New York, registered nurses are the most difficult health care positions to retain, and rural health care organizations have greater difficulty attracting and retaining nurses. At Bassett Healthcare Network, the vacancy rate has climbed from a low of five percent to 11 percent over the last year and is expected to return to the pre-recession level of 15 percent, the release stated.

“At Bassett Healthcare we must to continue to prepare local nurses who have ties to our communities and will stay and grow in our local hospitals,” Connie A. Jastremski, RN, MS, MBA, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services for Bassett

Healthcare said in the release. “The quality nursing program at Hartwick College is now enhanced with new simulator technology which will provide the students and our future nurses with the leading edge skills they need so that they will be better prepared to care for the very sick patients in our hospitals.”

The new simulator technology, as well as a new electronic medical records system and additional distance learning capacity, will enhance the faculty’s ability to offer flexible learning options, meet the needs of students in multiple locations, to collaborate on the

delivery of instruction to pre-service nursing students and to offer continued training to nurses practicing throughout the region, according to the release.

“These high-end simulators have pulses, they can speak, they have bowel and heart sounds. You can program them to pretty much do anything. They are so much more lifelike than practicing on a mannequin,” Hartwick Professor of Nursing and Department

Chair Jeanne-Marie Havener said in the release. “Simulation technology like this allows

for our students to keep up with a wide range of practice, so we can ensure our students are much better prepared for the realities of the healthcare field.”

In New York, and the upstate region in particular, the release stated, there is a need to expand educational options for prospective nurses. The grant from The Clark Foundation will help the Hartwick College Nursing Department expand its capacity, training more nurses in upstate New York, who are more likely to live and work in upstate New York. The upstate and central New York region has experienced a 24.6 percent drop in nurse graduation rates; primarily due to school closings and a lack of capacity in existing programs. The NYS Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Panel on the Nursing Workforce Shortage recommended increasing the capacity of the educational pipeline.

The Clark Foundation, founded in 1931, supports nonprofit organizations, institutions, and programs in New York City and Cooperstown.