NTCC, LSUBMC partners in Washington Parish health care

Published 7:32 am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Michelle Lyons, the newly appointed dean of the Health Sciences division of Northshore Technical Community College, told the Bogalusa Rotary Club last week there are “exciting things going on at our campus right now… a lot of positive changes.”

Lyons, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from LSU, has a background as a clinical nurse specialist and ICU nurse and has worked in a home health hospital setting. More recently she has worked in the world of academia, first at Southeastern Louisiana University and currently at NTCC.

“Our home base is here at Sullivan,” she said, “but we actually have an instructional site at Slidell, a campus in Hammond and a campus at Florida Parishes, but Sullivan is the main hub for the whole college.”

She said growth is coming in all areas.

The link between the school and LSU Bogalusa Medical Center is key to that growth, Lyons said, by allowing students in the practical nursing and patient care divisions to experience a hospital setting, visiting a number of areas within the facility. She cited former vo-tech students Beverly Sheridan, Janice Augustine and Regina Runfalo, all in the audience, as helping to create and maintain the partnership between the hospital and the college.

“That allows our students to meet and exceed our expectations and goals, which is nice,” she said. “And then the other facet to it is the more clinical opportunities that we can provide for them here in our community the more likely we are to retain them in our community, which is essentially what we would like to do, educate them and retain them.”

And while educating young people right out of high school is a priority, Northshore also wants former students and older adults to further their education.

“We have instructors who were LPNs that have gone on to further their degrees,” she said. “We have CNA students who come back to our practical nursing program, patient care technicians who come back, so we actually want them to view our college as a stepping stone in their educational journey. We don’t want them to stop there.

Health Sciences courses offered at Northshore include nursing assistant, patient care technician, pharmacy technician, medical assistant and practical nursing. Also, Northshore students can receive an associate degree with an emphasis in radiology tech, where they complete the first part of their coursework at North Oaks Radiology School and complete the rest of the components at NTCC.

North Oaks is a “fabulous school,” said Lyons, “and very competitive and very good.”

The college has also begun to add general education courses at each campus as well as its location in Covington and on the Southeastern campus.

“We’ve also started our “Connect to Success” program, a multi-faceted program that could be for students wishing to obtain general education classes at a lower cost,” she said.

Housed on Southeastern’s campus, the program’s courses “will seamlessly transfer to Southeastern if they are taken there on the Southeastern campus,” Lyons said. “It’s a great agreement.”

The school is also partnered with the Louisiana Workforce Commission in St. Tammany Parish and is helping to provide training and job skills to the LPNs affected by the recent closure of Southeastern Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville.

“We’re providing them with training and job skills so that they can get back into the hospital setting because so many of them have been just doing mental health for 10-15 years,” she said. “It’s much harder to go out into a hospital. We hope to be offering them certification courses as well.”

Lyons also noted that the workforce development program has also provided grant funds to provide CNA training in Slidell and on the Hammond campus at a reduced cost.

Northshore Technical College Chancellor Will Wainwright gave some closing remarks, thanking the Rotarians for their support throughout the years as the college has continued to evolve.

“We are very fortunate that Mickey Murphy, as fellow Rotarian, actually serves as chair of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System board of supervisors, which is a really big deal,” he said, “and provides us continuous support as we move this process along.”

Wainwright explained that the college has a new system for enrolling students, a system that is used at every community college in the state, making transferring much easier for students.

“We are working very hard on college readiness — working with our local school system to ensure that when a student leaves high school and graduates as a senior their applications are already complete, like any other higher education institution in the state of Louisiana, since we are all governed by the Board of Regents.”

Going back to the collaboration between hospital and college Wainwright said, “We certainly would not be where we are with this program if we did not have the relationship we have with LSUBMC.”