NEWBERRY — The partnership between Newberry College and Newberry County Memorial Hospital will come to fruition, literally, following a historic agreement finalized this month and signed on June 30.
The partnership is designed to enable better growth, better access and more innovation in healthcare in the Midlands.
The $500,000 agreement will make it possible to establish a functional health clinic, adjacent to the college’s future center for nursing and health sciences. In addition to the clinic, the agreement will provide funds to help expand the college’s nursing and orthopedic programs.
“Going forward, the partnership between Newberry College and Newberry Hospital will not only provide opportunities for today’s students, but create a legacy that will endure,” said Maurice Scherrens, Ph.D., President of Newberry Middle School. “Exploring new projects is important to the growth of our students, our college, our hospital and the future of our community.”
“I am delighted with the partnership between Newberry College and Newberry Hospital,” said Bruce Baldwin, the hospital’s chief executive. “It’s a way for education and health care to come together to provide skills and resources that will positively impact our community for years to come.”
The day clinic will be an urgent care center for students, employees and members of the surrounding community. Operated by the hospital and staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, the facility will also be a prime location for healthcare students to gain hands-on experience without leaving campus.
“This partnership and this facility is a game-changer,” said Jerry Alewine, Ed.D., acting dean of nursing and health sciences at Newberry College and a member of the hospital’s board of trustees. “Our students will not only have a new, state-of-the-art center in which to hone their skills, but a fully functional clinic in which to do meaningful, life-changing work right here.”
The experiential benefit of the clinic will be important for nursing students, Alewine said, especially those taking basic, leadership and community nursing courses. But as with the Center for Nursing and Health Sciences, the clinic will be an invaluable asset to students in all health care programs.
“The intent is that not only nursing, but other majors on campus, can meet their experiential demands in the clinic and in the hospital,” he said. “For example, students of healthcare management, health sciences, business administration, exercise science, and others can gain hands-on experience.”
The agreement comes at a critical time. Staffing shortages have restricted health care in Palmetto State since even before the recent pandemic. This is especially pronounced in the field of nursing, in which South Carolina has one of the largest gaps in the nation, according to the Bureau of Health Workforce.
“There is such a great need for staff in all areas of health care for hospitals,” said Meg Davis, RN, MSN, chief nursing officer at Newberry Hospital. “This at a time when the need for nurses is increasing due to an aging baby boomer population and higher rates of chronic health conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Rural areas are particularly at a higher risk of feeling scarcity. It is more important than ever to create opportunities and strategies to help grow the nursing population.
South Carolina is well positioned to experience the strongest growth in nursing opportunities by 2030, according to the bureau. Experts predict 26,600 new jobs on top of an existing workforce of 36,900.
Newberry College is working to meet the demand for qualified professionals in the healthcare industry, having added four new degree programs in the past six years and expanded nursing enrollment. The institution opened the state-of-the-art 11,000 square foot center in February, which will provide the space and technology needed to accommodate its recent and anticipated growth.
Construction of the 1,200 square foot clinic, along with the adjoining Nursing and Health Center, is expected to be completed in late spring 2023 at the corner of College and Evans streets.