OHSU School of Nursing Targets $2 Million for Improving Rural Health Care

09/06/01    Portland, Ore.

Rural health care in Oregon will be able to expand thanks to a new $1 million challenge gift intended to create a $2 million Rural Nursing Excellence Fund, Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing announced today.

An anonymous donor has pledged a $1 million gift challenging the school to match it with an additional $1 million. The school already has secured pledges totaling $225,000 toward this challenge.

"This endowment advances OHSU's assurance to serve rural Oregonians and our most vulnerable populations. This opportunity comes at a time when rural nurses face enormous challenges," Kathleen Potempa, D.N.Sc., R.N., F.A.A.N., Dean of the School of Nursing.

OHSU's School of Nursing serves rural Oregonians through its regional campuses in La Grande at Eastern Oregon University, in Ashland at Southern Oregon University and in Klamath Falls at the Oregon Institute of Technology. The school also operates two rural community clinics in Union and Elgin as well as a network of school-based clinics in Union County.

The national shortage of nurses especially affects rural communities. In Oregon there is expected to be 20 percent fewer registered nurses than will be needed by 2010, according to reports by OHSU's Area Health Education Centers and the Oregon Health Division. This shortfall will disproportionately affect rural communities because they are less able to successfully recruit and retain nurses. Already 21 of Oregon's 25 rural communities have identified nursing shortages.

"Without a genuine long-term commitment on the part of nursing educators -- the kind of assistance that the Rural Nursing Excellence Fund makes possible -- rural communities will be severely impacted from the predicted catastrophic shortage of nurses," Potempa said.

The $2 million fund allows the School of Nursing to provide $100,000 annually to be used in rural communities, possibly for additional health care clinics, nursing scholarships, expansion of programs and, in general, to improve rural Oregonians' access to much needed health care.

The Rural Nursing Excellence Fund is one priority in the School of Nursing's $14 million campaign and is part of The Oregon Opportunity, an OHSU-wide fund-raising initiative to support and expand OHSU programs and initiatives, and to accelerate the institution's research activities.

For more information about The Oregon Opportunity or the Rural Nursing Excellence Fund, contact Barbara Peschiera, director of development for the OHSU School of Nursing, at 503 494-7525 or e-mail at peschier@ohsu.edu. More information about giving opportunities is available on the OHSU School of Nursing's Web site at http://www.ohsu.edu/son-giving/gv-index.html.