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WSU Professor Debbie Brinker Honored by WSNA

At the Washington State Nurses Convention, WSNA recognized and honored colleagues and community partners who have made significant personal and professional contributions towards the advancement of nurses, the profession and the association. Debbie Brinker, WSU College of Nursing faculty and co-director of the undergraduate program, was selected a WSNA’s Nurse Educator of the Year. » More …

Kennewick, Prosser Hospitals Join Nursing Partnership

Kennewick, Prosser Hospitals Join Nursing Partnership

Friday, Jan. 25, 2013

By Melissa O’Neil Perdue, WSU Tri-Cities

Kennewick, Prosser hospitals join nursing partnership Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 By Melissa O’Neil Perdue, WSU Tri-Cities

Kennewick General Hospital and Prosser Memorial Hospital Foundation have joined the Washington State University Tri-Cities Nursing Partnership with donations that will help create a state-of-the-art teaching facility for the WSU College of Nursing program.

About seven weeks ago, WSU Tri-Cities announced $2.9 million in contributions from regional healthcare agencies toward renovating a vacant commercial building at 1268 Lee Blvd., Richland. Today (Jan. 25), Kennewick General Hospital announced a $150,000 pledge and Prosser Memorial Hospital Foundation committed $20,000 toward the project.

“Kennewick General Hospital is solidly committed to delivering high-quality healthcare services in the Tri-Cities,” said Brenda Atencio, assistant chief nursing officer at the hospital. “Highly skilled and supportive nursing care is at the heart of that, and that foundation is built on an excellent nursing education.

“KGH is pleased to partner in support of WSU’s effort to improve the nursing education facilities to provide an optimal place to prepare new nurses for successful careers in healthcare,” said Atencio, who has strong connections to WSU Tri-Cities: she earned her master’s degree in nursing and nursing administration at WSU Tri-Cities and has served as an instructor.

On Nov. 30, 2012, leaders from Group Health Cooperative, Lourdes Health Network, Kadlec Health System and Lampson International announced a regional partnership for the $4.4 million project. Kadlec offered a $1-per-year lease for 20 years, with an additional 10-year extension for the 10,000-square-foot facility. This lease, valued at $2.4 million, was approved this morning by the WSU Board of Regents.

A total of $980,000 was needed for high-tech equipment, especially in the simulation lab. About $280,000 remains to be raised. Contributions for the equipment include:

  • Kadlec Health System: $250,000
  • Lourdes Health Network: $150,000
  • Kennewick General Hospital: $150,000
  • Group Health Cooperative: $75,000
  • Lampson International: $50,000
  • Prosser Memorial Hospital Foundation: $20,000

In addition, WSU President Elson S. Floyd has committed $1 million toward the construction cost after WSU Tri-Cities raises the balance of the amount needed.

Construction on the former retail space is expected to start in April and be complete in December, with nursing classes held there starting in January 2014.

Through WSU Tri-Cities, students can earn the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN), the Master of Nursing (MN) in Advanced Population Health, and Post-Master’s Certificates.

The nursing program at WSU Tri-Cities is quite competitive, with more than 120 students applying for no more than 48 openings each year, said Patricia Butterfield, dean of the WSU College of Nursing.

“From a high-fidelity simulation lab and larger practice lab, to improved classrooms and staff offices, the new building will be a catalyst for best preparing nurses across the region,” Butterfield said. “I am in awe of how you have all come together for the greater cause to help bring talented, educated and dedicated nurses into your community.”

The future location of the nursing program — in a large building formerly occupied by a Rite Aid store — puts WSU instructors and students closer to Columbia Basin College’s two-year nursing program with the intent of creating more synergy between the programs.

WSU Tri-Cities is located along the scenic Columbia River in Richland, Wash. Established in 1989 with upper division and graduate programs, WSU Tri-Cities expanded in 2007 to a four-year undergraduate campus offering 18 bachelor’s, 10 master’s and six doctoral degree programs. Learn about the most diverse campus in the WSU system at and about the WSU College of Nursing at

Kennewick General Hospital is a publicly owned hospital and the anchor facility of Kennewick Public Hospital District. KGH has more than 280 medical staff throughout the Tri-Cities, including practices and services at its Medical Mall, urgent care and walk-in clinics and a network of physician offices. A state-of-the-art hospital at Southridge is under construction for a 2014 opening; it will accommodate the medical needs of the area’s fast-growing population. See

Prosser Memorial Hospital Foundation strives to improve the healthcare in the community by supporting PMH Medical Center’s activities and its mission through education, volunteerism and fundraising. PMH Medical Center is a full-service, community based, nonprofit medical center dedicated to serving the needs of local residents. PMH Medical Center is a Level 4 Trauma Center with 25 licensed CAH beds. For more than 60 years, PMH has provided exceptional healthcare services and the latest in diagnostic and patient care technology to the residents of the Yakima Valley. See

Doctoral student examines barriers to fitness after birth for military moms

By Doug Nadvornick

New mothers who serve as active duty military members share many of the same issues as new mothers in civilian life. But there is one difference: within a certain time period after giving birth – usually six months — military mothers are required to take fitness tests. Those who don’t pass the tests face negative consequences, such as unsatisfactory job evaluations or even discharge from the service.

The burden of having to take a fitness test causes plenty of stress for some new moms, says Nicole Armitage, a PhD student in the WSU College of Nursing. Armitage recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s TriService Nursing Research Program to study why some new mothers in the Air Force struggle to regain the fitness levels needed to stay in the military. » More …

WSU’s Nahashnee Creates Possibilities

PULLMAN, Wash. – Across the United States, there are less than 20 Native Americans who have earned a PhD in Nursing. Robbie Paul, Native American Health Sciences director at WSU Spokane, is dedicated to increasing the number of Native Americans practicing health sciences in the Northwest.

Her dedication is one of the reasons that 25 high school students from 16 Native American tribes and 27 Washington high school students will complete an immersion experience at the Na-ha-shnee Health Science Institute on the campus of Washington State University over the next two weeks. » More …

WSU College of Nursing Students Provide Community Service in Clinicals

Francis sat contently in her chair, nibbling on a cookie and quietly enjoying the foot care exam she received from two WSU College of Nursing students. At 91, she’s nearly blind yet she manages to live independently, by her own choice. Francis was one of the many seniors living with a disability who received important, routine health care from an interprofessional team of students representing WSU’s College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, and massage students from Carrington College.

As part of the WSU College of Nursing’s Community Health clinical in Spokane, a class of BSN students organized a health fair for individuals served by the local Lilac Services for the Blind. Blood pressure, blood sugar, vision and hearing screening, hand and foot care, and massage were provided at the free event. » More …

Nursing Degree Completes Life Journey for Spokane Graduate

By Judith Van Dongen

With one hand clutching a grenade, Faye Mezengie dashed across the border of his war-torn home country of Eritrea into Sudan. It was a dangerous undertaking, and the young soldier hadn’t known for sure whether he would make it. But he had decided that he’d rather die trying than be forced back into the senseless and deadly border conflict with Ethiopia.

Mezengie made it, and he has come far since then. Last Friday at the WSU Spokane Commencement ceremony he received his bachelor of science in nursing degree and served as the student speaker, sharing his story with fellow graduates and their families. » More …

Bed Rest for the Weary

Mike Hamilton, a regular client of the House of Charity, lost most of his fingers to frostbite and spent months in the hospital. A program proposed by WSU nursing student Rebecca Doughty would create respite care beds for homeless men to recuperate at the shelter.

Mike Hamilton’s hands tell the story. His fingers are short and thick – too short, you realize – and it’s hard not to look at them and wonder what happened.

Back in December of 2009, Hamilton was clearing away snow for a place to camp, in a below-freezing wind chill. He’d lost his gloves. When he noticed, eventually, the blackening of his fingers, he tried without success to wash it off. » More …

Nursing Visits Associated with Improved Environmental Health in Rural Low-Income Families

Public Health Nursing Visits Associated with Improved Environmental Health Outcomes in Rural Low-Income Families

Recent study published in American Journal of Health finds nursing interventions
increase adoption of precautionary environmental improvements

Spokane, WA – The financial cost of environmental disease in U.S. children was recently estimated at more than $75 billion per year. However, parents know that the real costs of environmental disease are much more than financial; they come from seeing a child suffer from asthma, cancer, or renal disease. Preventing diseases like childhood asthma or cancer often require parents to know about risks in their home and how to take action to reduce these risks.

Researchers from Washington State University and Montana State University recently completed a study that revealed public health nursing interventions might help reduce environmental health risks. The findings, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health, demonstrated that rural low-income parents who received visits from public health nurses were more likely to take precautionary environmental health steps than those who only received similar published literature. The study was funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Rural families face increased potential environmental hazards

Low-income families, who often rent rather than own their home, may be unfamiliar with the environmental safety of their residence and what to do if environmental health problems arise. Families living in rural areas face different living conditions compared to ones residing in urban areas. They are more likely to receive their drinking water from a private well or spring where water may be contaminated from nearby septic systems, agricultural run-off, or heavy metals. Families may also face additional risks from improperly ventilated wood or gas stoves, elevating carbon monoxide levels.

Testing water, air, and soil

A total of 441 adults and 399 children under the age of seven living in Whatcom County, Washington and Gallatin County, Montana participated in the study. Public health nurses and environmental health specialists from Gallatin City County Health Department (Bozeman, Montana) and Whatcom County Health Department (Bellingham, Washington) delivered the intervention.

Homes were tested for multiple contaminants, including E. coli, nitrates, and pesticides in drinking water. Participating families were randomly assigned to receive either four follow up visits from public health nurses or a letter that detailed their test results and referrals to local public health services.

Three months later, adults in the public health nursing visit group had significantly improved outcomes related to precautionary adoption of environmental safety changes and self-efficacy. Self-efficacy improvements were observed for six of the six contaminants being studied; precautionary adoption improvements were seen for questions addressing five of the six contaminants. “Oftentimes environmental health research focuses on a single agent. In contrast this study began with the premise that families live in a home and can act to reduce multiple risks to their children’s health,” said Susan Wilburn, an Occupational and Environmental Health Officer for the World Health Organization. “It’s a subtle difference, but one that is important if we are to be as effective as possible in reducing the burden of environmentally-associated disease in children.”

“We designed our study from the perspective of a parent or guardian who needed to be vigilant about risks in water, air, and soil,” said lead author Patricia Butterfield, PhD, RN. “What we learned is that parents want to take steps to protect their children, but they often don’t know what to do. Much of the environmental health information currently available is technical in nature and doesn’t provide them with the type of actionable advice they need. Our findings indicate that public health nursing interventions can be highly effective in helping parents understand more about common-sense actions in their home.”

The study also provided information about the frequency of household risks in a previously unstudied population of rural families. These findings revealed that 28% of the homes in Gallatin County had airborne radon levels above the threshold level set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Elevated carbon monoxide levels were found in 9% of homes; a few homes had levels that posed immediate life-threatening risks to families. Three percent of children were found to have elevated levels of cotinine in their saliva; this test identified children exposed to high levels of tobacco smoke in their homes. Seventeen percent of homes tested positive for total coliforms and two percent tested positive for E. coli, both indicators of contaminated drinking water.”

“To our knowledge, this is the first study in the nation that used public health nurses to deliver a multi-risk focused program aimed at reducing environmental risks to rural low-income children,” said co-author Dr. Julie Postma, Assistant Professor at Washington State University. “This study is a great example of the impact that local health departments have on the health of their county. Each case of disease prevented saves thousands of dollars in medical costs and untold human suffering. Many rural communities have relatively unique environmental health risks. Local public health providers are experts in understanding those risks and knowing how to protect health at both the family and the community level.”

The Washington State University College of Nursing educates more than 1,000 students working towards their bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. It conducts patient-focused research aimed at transforming and improving health care for all. The college is also a leader in providing distance education, quality interdisciplinary care, and teaching nurses with a hybrid of lecture and hands on experiences. WSU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program will open in 2012, offering a new program of study leading to certification as a family nurse practitioner or a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner.