Nor-Lea gifts $300,000 for training equipment to NMJC
New Mexico Junior College President Kelvin Sharp may have stood behind the large check for a photo, but he kept the real one pretty close inside his suit jacket.
“I’m keeping the real check with me,” he said with a smile.
Sharp and everyone with NMJC has a good reason to smile, as the $300,000 grant donation to the school’s foundation by Nor-Lea Hospital will be allocated to the simulation lab in the school’s new Allied Health Nursing Center currently under construction. The presentation was made during Thursday’s NMJC board meeting.
Nor-Lea CEO David Shaw told the board he has been at the hospital for 19 years. The hospital had around 90 employees and five physicians when he first started. Today, its roster has grown to more than 500 and 60 providers.
“So one of the challenges for us is providing education and training for our staff,” Shaw said. “The partnership we have had for all those years with the New Mexico Junior College has been very important to us. We provide scholarships for our nurses to go to school here and we could not staff our facility if it weren’t for all of the education that’s provided through the junior college. So we appreciate everything you have done to help make Nor-Lea a success.”
Nor-Lea’s physical growth comes with another challenge. There isn’t adequate training space nor equipment to train its current staff.
“So as we became aware of this Allied Health building that is under construction and the opportunities there for training, we came forward to the junior college and proposed the idea that we would partner with you and provide a grant to help purchase the equipment for the simulation lab,” Shaw told the board. “The simulation lab with allow our nurses and staff to get real live training that they need to improve their skills and maintain that high level of quality as an organization.”
The state-of-the-art simulation lab is four hospital rooms, each featuring a simulation mannequin that can be given a variety of ailments for the nursing students to discover and treat. Each room is set up with a monitoring station and computer system to activate and program different ailments to each mannequin. Each mannequin and the affiliated computer software and equipment costs around $125,000, for an overall price tag of around $500,000. There will be different mannequins available such as a male, female and small child.
Shaw believes the combination of resources between NMJC and the hospital will save Nor-Lea Hospital District taxpayers millions.
“We would have had to spend $2 to $3 million to build a facility and equip it,” Shaw said. “Since the junior college is already doing it, they are a partner. We can combine our resources together. It saves the junior college and benefits our hospital. The grant is either a four- or five-year grant with the intent that at the end of that period the equipment will need to be replaced and (the school) can come back to us with a request for another grant. Because we want this partnership to continue.”
Currently, Nor-Lea has two educators on staff that provide training to nurses. However, as Shaw stated, the technology and training equipment that NMJC will have is a higher level than what Nor-Lea uses now.
NMJC Vice President for Instruction Larry Sanderson said the donation is a huge gift for the school. It is scheduled to be ready for students in January 2019.
“Half of the training that we do now for our nurses can be done in the labs,” Sanderson said. “Instead of having to go out for clinicals, it also allows Nor-Lea to bring their staff and schedule simulations, deliveries, heart simulations and trauma simulations and keep current with what they are doing.”
Sanderson said the school will hire a full-time simulation lab manager to schedule and run the simulations.
“It’s not as simple as just going into a room and flipping on a switch,” Sanderson said. “You go into the software and type in different scenarios.”
The building comes at a time when the NMJC nursing program is in need of a larger facility. In 2016, the program had 22 graduates. It increased to 26 in 2017. Sanderson said the majority of nursing students come from the Lea County area, including a couple neighboring counties in Texas.
Since 2014, the majority of students from outside of the Lea County area come from Albuquerque (26 students). In a distant second place is Mexico (three), California (two) and one student each from Las Cruces, Farmington, Silver City, Odessa, El Paso, Waco and one each from Arizona and Virginia.