Sequoia Healthcare District has been granting $1,000,000/year since 2004 in subsidies to students enrolled in a Baccalaureate Nursing program established by the District in conjunction with SF State University and Cañada College.
The target was to enroll 40 nurses each year.
As a Board Member, I suggested that funding should have come from the Nurse's Union, which could then collect repayment from wages just as they collect union dues. This could have avoided the situation where 9 nurses subsidized by the District taxpayers took their newly acquired skills to Palm Springs.
This recent memo from CEO Lee Michelson opens up discussion on the issue:
"As you are aware, we are in year 8 of a 10 year commitment to fund the nursing program at a cost of $1 million per year. As the program is a 2 year academic program, we will need to indicate prior to December if we plan to renew our commitment and if so, for how long."
Lee further opines:
"As I see it, we have many options to consider. One is simply to renew for a period of time. Another is to declare victory and say we have accomplished our goal. A third is to alter our approach to offer a scholarship program and/ or a loan program."
He then adds this:
"Yesterday, Kim and I met with representatives from San Francisco State University and Sequoia Hospital Nursing about an additional or alternative program, modeled on a program now in operation at San Francisco General Hospital. The concept is a simple one. SFSU would bring their curriculum and faculty to the campus of Sequoia Hospital and offer a B.A. in nursing to staff nurses who want to upgrade their education. The hospital would arrange work shifts to accommodate these classes and they would also invite nurses working at SMMC and Kaiser to attend."
Lee provided details:
"The cost to offer this program would run about $30,000 per student or about $15,000 per year. The students/nurses could be expected to pay a portion, other donors could contribute and the District could either offer grants, scholarships or loans. Obviously, the nurses already have the clinical requirements and they have jobs so this program does not add new nurses in to the system, but upgrades skills and therefore improves care. A big component of the education is the requirement that the nurses devote numerous hours in the community, so we could help place them in our schools and the nonprofits that we support."
Mr. Michelson concludes by saying:
"I will keep you update as more information becomes available."
Readers can be assured that I will do likewise.