Birdsong funds new LPN program at college

Published 11:04 pm Friday, December 14, 2012

The Birdsong Corp. has provided funding to help build a regional Licensed Practical Nursing program at the Suffolk campus of Paul D. Camp Community College, the college announced Friday.

The move comes after Suffolk Public Schools ended funding for a similar program earlier this year as part of a package of budget cuts.

“We believe in Paul D. Camp Community College and the many educational opportunities it affords area students,” George Birdsong, chief executive officer of the Birdsong Corp., said in a press release. “We are pleased to partner with the college on the LPN program, because the program was dropped by our public schools for cost reasons, and by restarting it, the college will be able to fill a gap in educational and employment opportunities in our region.”

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The $150,000 in funds, donated through the Suffolk Foundation, will be used to remodel and renovate the nursing skills lab already present on the Suffolk campus.

The college already has an LPN education program on the Franklin campus, but this expands the program to Suffolk, making it more accessible to the city and other areas, college spokeswoman Felicia Blow said.

“This fills that void for those in the city of Suffolk,” she said.

Blow said the program must receive clearance from several organizations, including the Virginia Board of Nursing and the Virginia Community College System.

“We are confident we’ll make it through those hurdles,” she said.

The college hopes to begin classes in the new program during the fall 2013 semester, she said. Students will pay the college’s regular tuition.

“We thought it would be a wonderful thing if we could help get the program re-established in our area,” Birdsong said Friday.

Licensed practical nurses provide basic nursing care under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. They can work in many settings, including nursing homes and extended care facilities, hospitals, physicians’ offices and private homes.

To become an LPN, students must complete a one-year, state-approved program and pass a state board exam.

The executive director of the Suffolk Foundation said the organization is “delighted” to participate in the effort.

“Through collaborative efforts such as this, the quality of life in and around the Suffolk community will be enhanced,” William Hill said.

Dr. Paul Conco, president of Paul D. Camp Community College, said the program will help some students achieve their career goal and help others on their way to becoming a registered nurse.

“This commitment by the Birdsong Corp. will go far in bringing those dreams and opportunities to reality,” Conco said. “To put it simply, this investment by the Birdsongs will change lives for the better throughout our regional community.”