The University of Nebraska at Kearney has received a $1 million leadership gift from Good Samaritan Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives to support building a new $19 million Health Science Education Complex on its campus.
The new complex will provide state-of-the-art facilities that will enable UNK and the University of Nebraska Medical Center to expand enrollment opportunities in the existing nursing division by nearly 50 percent and begin offering professional programs in physical therapy, physician assistant, radiography, diagnostic medical sonography, and clinical laboratory science on the UNK campus.
"We have always valued our relationship with Good Samaritan Hospital, and this gift further strengthens our ties," said UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen.
Kristensen also expressed appreciation for the hospital's pledge to provide expanded internship, preceptorship and clinical rotation opportunities for students in the new Kearney-based allied health programs.
"We are truly grateful for this gift and pledge, both of which speak volumes about Good Samaritan Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives' commitment to UNK, the Kearney community and to rural healthcare in central Nebraska," he said.
Mike Schnieders, president of Good Samaritan Hospital, said the hospital is pleased to be a philanthropic partner in this critical project for Kearney and the region.
"In the spirit of its founders, Good Samaritan serves not only as a medical facility, but also as a community partner," he said. "Supporting health science education is an especially good fit, as the hospital is called by its mission to devote funding and resources to programs and services that improve the health of the communities we serve."
UNK must raise $3 million in private funds for the new facility to access $15 million appropriated for the project by the Nebraska Legislature within the Building a Healthier Nebraska initiative, a bill sponsored last year by Sen. Galen Hadley and supported by Gov. Dave Heineman. While the $3 million amount is necessary to access state funds, UNK will raise an additional $1 million to fully fund the $19 million construction project.
Brian Hastings, president and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation, said the gift from Good Samaritan Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives provides UNK with critical momentum for its current fundraising initiative.
"New generations of healthcare professionals and the countless people they will help are certain to benefit most from this gift," Hastings said. "Their generosity and leadership demonstrate a strong interest in helping us reach our goals for this UNK health science education initiative, which is incredibly important to Nebraskans."
In announcing the gift, Chancellor Kristensen said, "The impending critical shortage of healthcare professionals has been well documented, and rural areas are especially vulnerable. This initiative will improve healthcare, especially in rural Nebraska, meet work force needs, create high-quality jobs and expand educational opportunities for young people in our state."
Bob Lanik, senior vice president of operations for Catholic Health Initiatives in Nebraska, said the donation is just one example of how Catholic Health Initiatives is committed to Kearney and to Nebraska.
"Innovative partnerships like this one create opportunities that keep needed healthcare services close to home while bolstering our economy through job creation," Lanik said. "This work will prepare our system and our region for the next era of healthcare. We are honored to be a part of an important endeavor to train future healthcare professionals."
Although the final location of the new complex has not been determined, Kristensen said it will likely be constructed on the west side of the UNK campus. With approximately 30,000 square feet, it will be constructed to enable possible future expansion. Initial building plans include a clinical simulation laboratory, anatomy and physiology laboratories, and technology for distance education, all dedicated to nursing and allied health programs.
The Building a Healthier Nebraska initiative also involves creating a $370 million Cancer Center Campus in Omaha and a new Veterinary Diagnostic Center in Lincoln. As with UNK's health science education project, these projects also require significant private support to receive the state allocations.
Established by the Sisters of Saint Francis in 1924, Good Samaritan Hospital is a 287-bed regional referral center in Kearney, Neb. A member of Catholic Health Initiatives, Good Samaritan provides specialty care to more than 350,000 residents of central Nebraska and northern Kansas. It boasts Nebraska's first accredited Chest Pain Center, a Level II trauma center featuring AirCare emergency helicopter transport, advanced orthopedic care, comprehensive neurosurgery and a nationally accredited cancer center among its many unique tertiary care services.
Catholic Health Initiatives is a national nonprofit health system with headquarters in Englewood, Colo. The faith-based system operates in 18 states and includes 80 hospitals; 40 long-term care, assisted- and residential-living facilities; two community health-services organizations; two accredited nursing colleges; and home health agencies. In fiscal year 2012, CHI provided more than $715 million in charity care and community benefit, including services for the poor, free clinics, education and research. With total annual revenues of more than $10.7 billion and approximately 86,000 employees, CHI ranks as the nation's second-largest faith-based health system.
The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization raising private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for more than 75 years. In 2012, donors provided the university with $165 million for scholarships, medical and other research, academic programs, faculty and buildings. All foundation funds are donor designated. The foundation's comprehensive fundraising campaign, the Campaign for Nebraska, has raised more than $1.2 billion for the university and concludes in 2014. For more information, visit campaignfornebraska.org.