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Eastern celebrates National Nurses Week

Published on May 15, 2024

Eastern celebrates National Nurses Week

nursing lead
Eastern nursing students and faculty gather for a group photo with Hartford HealthCare partners and University administrators to commemorate National Nurses Week at Eastern.   

State officials, representatives from Hartford HealthCare and other dignitaries joined Eastern Connecticut State University faculty and administrators to celebrate National Nurses Week May 6–12. The opening event, held May 6 in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Room in the J. Eugene Smith Library, also celebrated Eastern’s new Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. The degree program, a partnership between Eastern and Hartford HealthCare, seeks to address the nursing shortage in eastern Connecticut and elsewhere.

Christina Nadeau, director of clinical education for Eastern’s nursing program, convened the festivities, describing why she and other nurses join the profession: “Nursing gives back to us and fills our cup.” Nadeau then showed a video that set the historical stage, recalling Florence Nightingale’s ground-breaking nursing work during the Crimean War in the 1850s, and detailing nurses’ more recent roles in combatting polio, infant mortality, AIDS and Ebola.

State Comptroller Sean Scanlon, the father of two children, called attention to the all-too-familiar situation for parents — “that powerless feeling when your child is sick. It is the nurses who are the difference makers in healing your child.” Scanlon said Connecticut needed 3,000 new nurses a year to keep up with demand, while current nurse training programs are only graduating 1,900 a year. “Connecticut’s state universities play an important role in preparing the people who will care for Connecticut residents in the future.”

Terrence Cheng, chancellor of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities

Donna Handley, senior vice president and east region president for Hartford HealthCare

Christina Nadeau, director of clinical education for Eastern’s nursing program

Yaw Nsiah, chair of the Department of Health Sciences and Nursing

William Salka, provost and VP for Academic Affairs

Sean Scanlon, state comptroller

“Nursing lights the soul and puts people in touch with one another,” said Father Laurence LaPointe of Eastern’s Campus Ministry, praying that students in the program would “gain new energy when weary” so that they could “share hope, life and courage with all they interact with.” The first cohort of 35 students are finished their prerequisite courses this at the conclusion of the spring 2024 semester and will begin nursing courses this coming fall.

As Eastern’s major partner in the new nursing program, Hartford HealthCare will supply teaching facilities, clinical placements and other support. Noting that “this partnership is such an important initiative for our community and region,” Donna Handley, senior vice president and east region president for Hartford HealthCare, urged students present to “make a difference in the life of every person you touch.” She concluded her remarks saying, “This new four-year program at Eastern is a really big deal, and it is exciting for me to see students’ passion and energy.”

Eastern Provost Bill Salka said the program owed its existence to Dr. Rocco Orlando, Hartford HealthCare’s chief academic officer. “Eastern could not afford this program on our own. When Dr. Orlando offered to build a simulation lab at Windham Hospital and we successfully applied for a $1.2 million Connecticut Health Horizons grant from the State of Connecticut to hire faculty and purchase instructional equipment, we were on our way.”

Salka acknowledged the work of Yaw Nsiah, department chair, and Professor Amy Bataille for creating the nursing curriculum in “record time” — three months from start to finish.

“Connecticut needed Eastern to have a nursing program,” said Salka. “Our graduates will be liberally educated nurses; in addition to being highly skilled at nursing, they will be critical thinkers, problem-solvers, communicators — leaders in their field.”

Nsiah called the new nursing program “a dream come true,” thanking his Eastern colleagues and Hartford HealthCare partners for providing the resources and for the collaborative spirit that has marked the program’s launch. “It is my hope that our students will stay in eastern Connecticut to serve our local region.”

Nursing students and faculty use a high-fidelity manikin in renovated simulation space in Goddard Hall.

Nursing students and faculty use a virtual dissection table in renovated classroom space.

Other speakers included Dr. Warly Remegio, vice president of nursing professional development and practice excellence at Hartford HealthCare; Terrence Cheng, chancellor of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System; Emily Todd, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences; and Stephen Donahue, director of operations of Hartford HealthCare’s Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation.

Additional invited guests included Michael Davis, senior director of operations and nursing at Windham Hospital; Kaitlin Bolster, regional director of professional practice in the East Region of Hartford HealthCare; local clinical placement partners; area school guidance counselors, and students from the new nursing program.

Following the formal remarks, participants reconvened in Goddard Hall, home to Eastern’s Health Sciences and Nursing Department, to tour the new facilities that will be used by Eastern’s nursing students. The students will practice in three clinical skills labs on campus, including a maternity and pediatric room, a two-bed hospital room and an examination room.

In collaboration with Hartford HealthCare, an additional 6,700 square-foot simulation facility will be completed at Windham Hospital in fall 2025, where students will have access to state-of-the-art equipment and additional nursing instruction from hospital staff. Hartford HealthCare facilities across eastern Connecticut will also be used to provide students with hands-on clinical experiences in preparing them to be professional nurses.

Written by Ed Osborn

Categories: Nursing