Grant Opens Door for Nursing Center

By Beacon Staff

Two classrooms, a lab that was once a janitor’s closet and a few offices in a trailer.

Or what the Flathead Valley Community College’s nursing program calls home.

But not for long, thanks to a $4 million donation that will help construct a new nursing and health care building on FVCC’s Kalispell campus. Last week, the college announced that it received the gift from the Broussard family as a tribute to nurse and philanthropist Rebecca Broussard, who passed away in December 2010.

“The Broussards are a very visionary family,” said Colleen Unterreiner, executive director of institutional advancement. “Becky was a nurse and having good medicine in the community was important to her.”

Rebecca’s husband Jerome said that she was always a supporter of FVCC and the nursing program.

“We decided that it would be a great tribute to Becky and it would help the community,” he said.

Myrna Ridenour, director of the nursing program, said the school first began to offer courses in the field in 2005 and has only grown since then. So much so that it can’t fit in its current location in the back corner of the Science and Technology Building.

Ridenour said she had previously discussed the need for a new building to house the program, but the money wasn’t there.

“We’ve had conversations and wishes to have a building, because it’s obvious that the need for community health care has grown,” Ridenour said.

Currently the program offers an associate of applied science in practical nursing, but Ridenour said the school is currently waiting for approval from the Montana Board of Nursing to offer courses that would allow students to become registered nurses. The Board of Regents has already approved the move.

“It’s a really important program, not just to our college but to our community,” FVCC President Jane Karas said.

Karas added that heath care needs in the community are growing along with Kalispell’s population and this expansion can only be beneficial. But before construction can begin on the new building another $1 million needs to be raised. For this, Karas said the school will turn to the Flathead Valley Community College Foundation and, with any luck, construction on the new building will break ground by this time next year.

Ridenour said the new building will provide the program with much-needed space and students with a more hands-on education.

“I’m very pleased and rather humbled in the Broussards confidence in us as a school and our ability to train qualified nurses,” she said. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity for this valley, students and health care.”

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