Natchez Community gives grant to Alcorn School of Nursing

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 13, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; An increasing need for health care services has developed into a greater need for health care professionals.

In an effort to meet those needs here, Health Management Associates Inc. of Mississippi and Natchez Community Hospital presented a check Monday for $65,000 to Alcorn State University School of Nursing. The grant will be used to help the school support its nursing faculty.

&uot;It means we can retain well-prepared faculty to teach the increasing number of nursing students,&uot; said Dr. Frances Henderson, dean of Alcorn State University School of Nursing.

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The nursing school maintains a faculty staff of 18 and will graduate nearly 55 students this year.

&uot;We normally graduate about 35 students, but the number has increased in the last year,&uot; Henderson said. &uot;We want to prepare nursing students to meet the needs of the nursing shortage.&uot;

Henderson said the school started working with the hospital on the grant request in November.

&uot;HMA has been very responsive to us,&uot; she added.

The Mississippi division of Health Management Associates Inc. operates 44 hospitals in the United State, nine of which are located within Mississippi.

Allen Tyra, CEO of Natchez Community , believes the grant is a way for the hospital to form a better partnership with the nursing school. &uot;We’re in a nationwide nursing shortage, and nurses are the primary care givers in hospitals,&uot; Tyra said. &uot;Well-trained nurses are vital to our hospitals. This donation represents our desire to support the nursing program at Alcorn State University, which is designed to prepare nursing students to give quality care. By assisting the university in its efforts to attract and retain high-quality instructors, we are forming a partnership that will hopefully ultimately increase the total number of nursing students and registered nurses caring for the people of Mississippi.&uot;

The grant is unique to the company, Tyra said. &uot;It’s a huge investment on our part,&uot; he said.

Henderson said the school now has 160 students enrolled in one of the three nursing programs. Alcorn offers a two-year associate’s degree, a bachelor’s program for students in their junior and senior years and a master’s program.

Henderson said the money will help the school fund its faculty through the remainder of the year. &uot;We’re truly grateful for the grant. I think it will truly benefit a lot of people in the area,&uot; she said.