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IPFW nursing students, from left, BreAnn Johnson, Tiffany Myers, Haley Napier, Philip Roberts and Maria Workman practice delivering a baby in a simulation room.
IPFW nursing program unchanged by cuts

Parkview trims financial support

Photos by Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
IPFW nursing student Danielle Grau acts out the role of a patient during a physical examination by Chelsea Hannie in a simulation room.

– Parkview Health and the department of nursing at IPFW have had an agreement since 2006 to partner on nursing education to graduate high-quality nurses.

Up until 2010, Parkview provided about $409,000 for operating expenses in the nursing department, but its latest contribution totaled $150,000 as part of a one-year contract through June 30.

Parkview Health spokesman Eric Clabaugh said when the agreement for the nursing program was reached in 2006, both parties understood that Parkview was providing initial funding.

Changes to agreements with Parkview have resulted in a $237,000 total shortfall for next year, said Walt Branson, vice chancellor for academic affairs. The university also contracts with Parkview in its radiography program, but Steve Sarratore, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the majority of the shortfall is in the nursing department.

“There’s always been an understanding that as the contract went on, there would be fewer funds allocated as the university becomes more self-sufficient,” he said.

In the beginning, Parkview provided funding for capital improvements and general operating expenses, but funding since July 2011 has been earmarked for salaries and other related operating expenses.

The drawdown of funding has occurred as both Parkview and Lutheran Health Network are experiencing shortages of nurses and other health care workers.

“At a time when we desperately need nurses with baccalaureate and higher degrees, it would be very beneficial to have our area hospital systems supporting nursing schools, especially the public universities,” said Carol Sternberger, department chairwoman and associate vice chancellor for faculty development at IPFW.

Despite cuts in financial support from Parkview Health, IPFW is committed to maintaining its nursing program at the current level even as it faces a budget deficit, Branson said.

The funding cuts from Parkview also come at a time when IPFW faces an $8.4 million shortfall in its budget. In years of enrollment growth, the university’s practice was to pay certain unbudgeted expenses using year-end cash, but with an enrollment dip last year, IPFW will no longer have the cash to pay for these items. The $237,000 shortfall is categorized as part of the unbudgeted expenses.

But the university has committed to funding the $237,000 shortfall as a result of the agreement changes, Branson said.

“We’ve done this in a way that our nursing program will not change,” he said.

When the contract was first signed in 2006, Parkview provided $48,000 for capital improvements and an additional $361,000 for operating expenses and capital improvements. Parkview also provided $25,000 for nursing scholarships and $25,000 for the nursing program endowment.

In 2011, Parkview cut its funding for capital improvements and operational expenses to $240,000. Funding for the endowment and scholarships was maintained through July 2011, but all $50,000 was cut for the next school year. Sternberger said scholarships are still awarded through earnings from the endowment.

According to the agreement, IPFW was to exclude Parkview’s financial support when determining funding for the department. But funding since 2011 has been earmarked for “salaries and other such expenses related to the school undergraduate and graduate IPFW nursing programs.”

The agreement also requires IPFW to ensure that most of the clinical nursing research is conducted at Parkview, and to notify and consult with Parkview in the event IPFW considers “forming an alliance, whether financial or otherwise, with another healthcare entity.”

Other stipulations include input from Parkview about curriculum and faculty decisions and online classes in medical terminology and critical care and maintenance of medical equipment in the nursing skills lab “consistent with (Parkview’s) technology, incorporating (Parkview’s) computer and virtual initiatives.”

Clabaugh said Parkview is happy with the performance of the university’s nursing program and its direction of funding to bachelor’s and masters programs.

IPFW’s budget cuts and area nursing shortages are conditions Parkview will take into account when renegotiating the agreement, Clabaugh said.

“The current climate will always be taken into consideration,” he said.