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Nursing Program Facility Ribbon Cutting Planned
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Modesto Junior College, Columbia College and the Yosemite Community College District will hold a Redbud Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Open House on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 3p.m. in the Redbud Building at Columbia College, 11600 Columbia College Drive, Sonora. The ceremony will be teleconferenced to Glacier Hall on MJC’s West Campus, 2201 Blue Gum Ave., Modesto. Both event sites are open to the public and will offer light refreshments. Self-guided tours of Redbud will also be available following the ribbon cutting.

The newly remodeled Redbud provides instructional space for 40 nursing students enrolled in the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program at MJC who attend classes via distance education (DE) on the Columbia campus.

With the help of bond funds from Measure E, the upstairs of the Redbud Building was remodeled to provide a six-bed skills lab, two Human Patient Simulation Labs (HPSL) equipped with three video cameras each, a lab housing 10 computers for student use, two control rooms for the HPSL, three staff offices, two restrooms, a conference and debriefing room, and two distance education classrooms with LCD screens and headphones for adjusted audio.

“The remodel is state of the art and perfect for the students” said Lisa Riggs, ADN program director. “The cohort has been moved eight times over the last 12 years and it will be nice to finally have a permanent home.”

The DE cohort began in 2001 under the leadership of Bonnie Costello, the ADN program director at that time, in an effort to alleviate Tuolumne County’s nursing shortage. Beginning with 10 students in the first cohort, the program has grown over the past 12 years.

“The MJC Nursing program has a reputation for excellence and for being in the forefront of innovation and technology. This is just another example that is consistent with the college’s mission for community outreach and collaboration,” said Patrick Bettencourt, dean of Allied Health and Family and Consumer Science.

Students in the cohort attend classes on the Columbia campus and clinical training off campus, mainly at Sonora Regional Medical Center (SRMC). Classes are video conferenced from Glacier Hall at MJC to Columbia College to minimize travel. The end result has been greater availability of nursing education for students in remote sites, cost reduction in transportation and child care, a valuable collaboration between colleges and more nurses for the region.

To date, 168 prospective nurses have graduated from the cohort. According to Riggs, virtually all of the graduates are employed in Tuolumne County. Riggs credits the program’s success to support from Julie Kline, Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services at SRMC, and ADN faculty member Danise Rapetti, who oversees the daily activities at the Columbia site and attends to student needs.

“Danise has been invaluable for the students, the MJC faculty, the hospital, the college and the community,” said Riggs.

To comply with Title V requirements and support the DE project, MJC’s nursing leadership and Rapetti authored grants and utilized enrollment growth funds to hire additional nursing faculty and purchase equipment. As the cohort expanded, additional support became necessary and Maureen Warren was hired as an administrative assistant.  Riggs points out that Warren’s organization and attention to detail came at a crucial time when technology was expanding.

“MJC’s instructional support specialist Scotty Gonser and information systems specialist Mel Ainsworth have spent countless hours traveling between campuses, examining plans, and monitoring progress to make sure that every technical detail of the building is just right,” reported Riggs.

For more information contact Patrick Bettencourt, Dean of Allied Health and Family and Consumer Science at 575-6373.