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$3.2 Million Decatur Memorial Foundation Gift to Expand Richland Community College Nursing Programs

DECATUR – A $3.2 million grant from the Decatur Memorial Foundation will expand Richland Community College’s nursing and clinical programs over the next four years, as both organizations address the unprecedented shortage of nurses and other health professionals in the area.

Through the collaboration, Decatur Memorial Hospital and Richland Community College plan to triple the number of qualified students applying for enrollment into the college’s nursing and healthcare professions programs. In addition, the infusion of essential skills and trauma-informed practices through the EnRich Program at Richland will help build a stronger and more resilient workforce, leading more individuals on the path to success.

The grant is the largest ever awarded by Decatur Memorial Foundation.

“The partnership between the hospital and the community college will not only help expand the nursing program at Richland, which benefits both Richland and the hospital, but we are also creating unique educational grant opportunities to remove barriers that many community members face when trying to pursue higher education,” said Julie Bilbrey, executive director of the Decatur Memorial Foundation. Students in the program will have opportunity to work and learn on the DMH campus with the hope that they will become DMH colleagues upon program completion.

“Our partnership provides real solutions to the health care workforce shortage and workforce development issues in our community,” said Drew Early, president and CEO of Decatur Memorial Hospital.

The $3.2 million grant will allow Richland to integrate and expand on the use of technology in the classroom, implementing increased simulation learning in classroom, lab and clinical settings. In addition, the community college will create at least three faculty positions and four new administrative positions to accommodate the program’s expansion.

The grant will also allow substantial scholarships to be made available to prospective nursing and clinical students.

“This collaborative work will not only increase health care education opportunities, but it will also meet workforce needs in the Decatur area,” said Dr. Cristobal “Cris” Valdez, president of Richland Community College. “This partnership will positively impact the communities we serve for generations to come.”

“The mission of the foundation is to use local donations to help improve health in Macon County and the surrounding communities,” said William P. “Pen” Shade IV, a member of the foundation’s board of directors. “This $3.2 million grant is a direct investment to increase the quality of care to our residents and at the same time enable participants in these programs to have very fulfilling careers that can last a lifetime.”

“This tremendous community investment is made possible by the generosity of Decatur Memorial Foundation donors,” said Bilbrey. “If you would like to donate to the RCC Nursing Expansion project, please visit designate your gift to Health Care Education.”

For more information about the Decatur Memorial Foundation, call 217-876-2146.

Individuals interested in learning more about Richland’s EnRich Healthcare Program can

Richland Community College District 537 includes all of Macon County and parts of Christian, DeWitt, Logan, Moultrie, Piatt, Sangamon and Shelby counties, serving 7,600 students annually at its main campus in Decatur, at its Clinton Higher Education Center and at several other locations throughout the district.

Decatur Memorial Hospital is a 300-bed nonprofit hospital with 2,000 employees and 300 physicians. DMH is one of five Memorial Health hospitals in central Illinois. Memorial Health is a Springfield-based nonprofit corporation dedicated to patient care, education and research.

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