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JCCHC Opening Announcement



Johnson City Downtown Clinic Groundbreaking Ceremony


Friday, August 19           10 A.M..


  The ETSU College of Nursing will break ground Friday, August. 19, on the building site for the new Johnson City Downtown Clinic, and we invite you to join us as we celebrate this exciting day for the university, as well as the patients throughout the region who turn to us for health care.

The new building will be located off State of Franklin Road, near ETSU’s P.L. Robinson Clinical Education Building and between Woodridge Psychiatric Hospital and the Mountain States Health Alliance Rehabilitation Center – formerly the Washington County Health Department. The groundbreaking ceremony begins at 10 A.M..

The new clinic will mark a new, significant chapter for the JCDC, which the College of Nursing has operated since 1990. When completed in the fall of 2012, the JCDC will stand as a state-of-the-art facility for the delivery of primary health care services and the education of students.

The 28,000-square-foot facility will offer double the current space available to see patients. The College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences will be a primary partner with the College of Nursing in delivering care to patients and educating students there, but the new clinic will bring together   many of the programs of study in all five colleges that make up ETSU’s Division of Health Sciences and other departments in the university.


JCDC now offering evening hours; new nurse practitioner joins staff

JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University’s Johnson City Downtown Clinic (JCDC) has begun staying open weekday evenings to better meet the health care needs of working adults.

A service of the ETSU College of Nursing, the JCDC has been delivering primary health care services to patients for 21 years, and now it can serve more people than ever. Grant funding from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration made the expansion of hours possible at the JCDC. The clinic is now open each weekday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

“Everyone needs a good primary care provider, but for some people, the responsibilities of job and family can make it a challenge to see someone before closing time,” said Dr. Patti Vanhook, Associate Dean for Practice and Community Partnerships with the College of Nursing. “Some face the predicament of choosing between work and health care. We want to remove that hurdle for them.”

The HRSA grant allowed the college to hire additional staff to expand hours, and most patients who visit the JCDC during evening hours will see the clinic’s newest nurse practitioner, Leah McLin. She recently moved from the Ohio region of Appalachia to the Tri-Cities. McLin earned her master of science in nursing degree from Ohio University in Athens.

“Having lived in Appalachia my entire life, I didn’t want to work in any area other than Appalachia,” McLin said. “While working in public health I realized the barriers that people face just to be able to get simple health care, and I wanted to be a provider who helped them get the services they need to be healthy.”

Come autumn, the JCDC will begin seeing patients on Saturday mornings as well, said Sue Reed, the clinic director. The JCDC accepts most major insurance plans and charges for services on a sliding fee scale. No one is ever turned away due to inability to pay for health care.

“We’re pleased that Leah, who is very skilled and dedicated to patient care, has joined our staff,” Reed said, “and we’re excited that her arrival coincides with the fact that we’re able to serve patients better than ever.”

Media Contact: Brad Lifford
April 28, 2011

ETSU College of Nursing study will address needs of rural family caregivers

JOHNSON CITY – A researcher in East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing is conducting a study of people who act as rural caregivers to family members in hopes of answering a question that often goes unanswered, or perhaps even unasked: What kind of support do the caregivers themselves need?

Dr. Florence Weierbach, an assistant professor in the ETSU College of Nursing, said that informal caregiving by family members is so pervasive that more attention needs to be paid to the toll it can exact on those who provide the care. She is seeking caregivers who are willing to participate in the study, which is referred to as the People Helping People Health Study.

Weierbach said that estimates indicate approximately 14 percent of the nation’s 49 million family caregivers live in rural areas, but their plight can go unnoticed. Compared to non-caregivers, caregivers have higher rates of depression, incur more physician visits, and experience losses associated with time and money, while estimates reveal that 40 percent of caregivers will die before the care recipient.

 “There are few studies that have addressed the unique health needs of the caregivers themselves, so there’s a pressing need for more research,” Weierbach said. “The responsibilities they assume can often lead to significant personal challenges, even to their own health. This study is one step in identifying the most significant concerns for caregivers, with the goal of developing community-based services that will provide help for them and their elderly care recipients.”

Weierbach’s study is supported by grant funding from the American Nurses Foundation (ANF), the ETSU Center for Nursing Research and the ETSU Research Development Committee. Through her support from the ANF, Weierbach was named a 2010 Virginia Kelley CRNA/ANF Scholar.

Study participants must be at least 21 years old and provide assistance to a friend or relative who is 65 or older and is living in the same home as the caregiver. Participants need only to complete a series of questionnaires during the 16-week study and will be paid a $15 stipend.

To enroll in the study, or to request more information or detailed eligibility requirements, call Weierbach at (423) 439-4588, toll free at (866) 297-8188, or send e-mails to .

Media Contact: Brad Lifford
March 22, 2011

ETSU College of Nursing research project focuses on experiences of early practice RNs

JOHNSON CITY – Two faculty members from East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing are seeking to interview registered nurses from an earlier generation to understand how their education and experiences helped shape the profession.

The research project by Drs. Sharon Loury and Florence Weierbach, Oral Histories of Early Practice Nurses, is part of ETSU’s Centennial celebration and is funded by a grant from the ETSU Centennial Committee. The university has awarded a series of mini-grants to fund projects that are contributing to the commemoration of 100 years at ETSU, which was founded in 1911.

Weierbach and Loury are planning to record the oral history accounts of registered nurses, either practicing or retired, who received their nursing education prior to 1960. They will focus on nurses from Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky.

“We want to help the nurses and other health care professionals of today’s generation understand what it was like to be a registered nurse during the mid-20th century,” Loury said. “We’re eager to capture the stories of those pioneering nurses to help ensure their experiences are not lost. We look forward to gaining their insight and perspective, which will provide context for understanding the complexity of nursing’s professional development.”

Each recording session will be conducted at a location convenient for those being interviewed, said Loury, who is principal investigator. Weierbach is co-principal investigator.

For more information or to participate in the project, call Loury at (423) 439-4057 or Weierbach at (423) 439-4588, or send e-mails to or
Media Contact: Brad Lifford
March 16, 2011

ETSU College of Nursing recognizing Wear Red Day to promote awareness of heart disease in women

JOHNSON CITY – To promote awareness of heart disease in women, East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing is observing Wear Red Day on Wednesday, Feb. 23.

Many ETSU College of Nursing faculty, staff and students will wear red Wednesday in honor of the American Heart Association (AHA) Go Red For Women campaign to educate people about the dangers of heart disease in women. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women age 20 and over, and more women die of cardiovascular disease than the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer.

AHA statistics paint a stark picture not only in terms of the likelihood women will develop heart disease, but also of the public’s awareness of its pervasiveness. The AHA reports that one in 30 American women will die of breast cancer, but almost one in three women will die of cardiovascular disease – despite the fact that only one in five women believes heart disease is her greatest health threat.

“We’re encouraging everyone at the college to join in wearing red for the day, because heart disease is a serious but often underappreciated health issue where women are concerned,” said Jill Bumpus, coordinator of the ETSU Center for Nursing Research and the college’s organizer of Wear Red Day. “The statistics often surprise people, so increased education is one goal we’re striving toward. You can’t solve a problem or curtail its effects unless you appreciate the scope of the problem, so we want more people to be aware that heart disease is the most pressing health issue that women face.”

Go Red For Women has raised more than $200 million to benefit women’s cardiovascular health. The AHA uses all revenues from local and national Go Red For Women activities to support awareness, research, education and community programs to benefit women.

Media Contact: Brad Lifford
February 21, 2011

ETSU College of Nursing operating new satellite clinic through $1.4 million Primary Care in Public Housing grant

JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing has been awarded a $1.4 million federal grant to deliver primary care for public housing residents at a new satellite location, the Johnson City Downtown Clinic /Johnson City Housing Authority (JCDC/JCHA) Partners in Health Clinic. The clinic, located in the Keystone Community, began serving its first patients this week.

By expanding the outreach of the university’s flagship nurse-managed community health center, the JCDC, to public housing residents of Johnson City, the new satellite clinic will significantly expand access to primary health care and advanced practice nurse case management.

The JCDC/JCHA Partners in Health Clinic is located adjacent to the Children First Development Center in the Keystone Community. Located at 1136 E. Main St., the Keystone Community is a residential development that is operated by the Johnson City Housing Authority, which is partnering with the ETSU College of Nursing on this project. The satellite clinic is funded by a grant from the United States Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Dr. Patricia Hayes, an associate professor of nursing at ETSU and principal investigator for the grant, said that preventive health care is key to the public housing clinic services, while providing access to consistent primary care and case management services are critical to sustained improvements in health status for these communities. The clinic will maintain extended hours to best meet the needs of residents.

A full range of nurse-managed primary care services will be offered for all age groups located within the eight Johnson City public housing communities. Additionally, in-home primary care and case management services for older adult members of the public housing population will be available.

“For those who aren’t in the immediate walking vicinity of the clinic, the Johnson City Housing Authority will offer transportation to the clinic,” Hayes said. “The housing authority is also providing the space and paying utilities. We’ve partnered with them before, and they are great to work with.

“I think we are going to meet a lot of unmet needs.”

Dr. Wendy Nehring, dean of the College of Nursing, said the program is designed to improve the health of residents in the housing authority developments as well as the community at large. The college will collaborate with the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy and the nutrition and foods program from the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences.

“Preventive care will be a key focus for us,” Nehring said. “This program will also have a significant interprofessional piece that we’re very excited about, as pharmacy and nutrition students will be making rounds with a nurse practitioner during home visits.”

The JCDC/JCHA Partners in Health Clinic recently hired Dr. Lisa Ousley, who holds a doctor of nursing practice degree with a family practice emphasis, as the primary clinical provider, and Katie Jeter to manage the clinic.

The clinic is open Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and also from 6:30-8:30 p.m. every Thursday. Johnson City Housing Authority residents can schedule patient appointments by calling (423) 722-0808, but walk-ins are welcome.

Media Contact: Brad Lifford
January 4, 2011


ETSU College of Nursing holding annual Homecoming Tea

JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing will hold its second annual Homecoming Tea Saturday, Nov. 20, at Roy S. Nicks Hall.

Dr. Wendy Nehring, dean of the college, and faculty members will be joined by leaders of the ETSU College of Nursing Alumni Society in hosting the event. The tea will be held from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Nehring said the enthusiastic response from alumni last November made it an easy decision to make the tea a homecoming tradition.

“We were pleased with the turnout last year and expect even more participants this time around,” Nehring said. “I invite anyone who earned a nursing degree from ETSU to spend a little time with us during homecoming. Alumni will have a chance to catch up with old classmates, tour Nicks Hall and learn about some of the exciting things going on at their College of Nursing. I look forward to meeting and speaking with each and every person who joins us.”

After the tea, the college will continue celebrating at ETSU’s annual Alumni Luncheon Under the Dome, set for noon-3 p.m. in the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. Reserved seating will be available for College of Nursing alumni.

Tea and light refreshments will be served. For more information, or to request special accommodations, call Ann Eargle at (423) 439-7051 or send an e-mail to

Media Contact: Brad Lifford
November 10, 2010

ETSU gets $6.8 million grant for new clinic

JOHNSON CITY – During a news conference this morning, officials from East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing and the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences announced that a $6.8 million grant has been secured from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to build a new comprehensive health care facility that will house the Johnson City Downtown Clinic (JCDC) as well as other allied health services.  These include speech-language pathology, audiology, nutrition, physical therapy, radiography and dental hygiene.

Groundbreaking for the 22,000-square-foot clinic is anticipated to take place in fall 2010.

The JCDC, which is managed by the College of Nursing and a Community Health Center Governing Board, provides primary, prenatal and behavioral care and outreach services to many underserved and at-risk populations, including those with no health care insurance.

“One of the greatest challenges the Johnson City Downtown Clinic has been facing for quite some time has been inadequate space,” said Dr. Wendy Nehring, ETSU Dean of Nursing.  “This has been a serious issue almost since the first day we moved into our current clinic, and it is one that has been mirrored by a dramatic rise in the number of patients turning to us for care.  In fact, we are continuing to set records for the number of monthly client encounters.”

During the past five years, the clinic has reported some 38,350 patient visits.

The new facility will be located on N. State of Franklin Road across from Johnson City Medical Center. Another federal grant recently awarded to the College of Nursing will allow the JCDC and two other nurse-managed clinics to offer extended weekday and weekend hours, a move expected to reduce the number of patients who visit the emergency room for non-emergent needs.

The center will be more than just a new home for the Johnson City Downtown Clinic.  With the expanded space, the university will bring other patient care and teaching services to this facility, according to ETSU Dean of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences Dr. Nancy Scherer.

“Throughout the history of the allied health college, we’ve never had an opportunity to train students together in one central location,” Scherer said.  “We will continue utilizing our facilities on the ETSU and VA campuses and at the Nave Center in Elizabethton, but now we are in the position to expand, particularly in the scope of our current patient care for the ETSU Dental Hygiene Clinic and the Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic.”

Media Contact: Joe Smith
October 11, 2010

ETSU College of Nursing receives $1.4 million federal grant to offer extended hours at three clinics, including JCDC
JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing has received a $1.4 million federal grant that will allow three clinics managed by the college – in Johnson City, Mountain City and Hancock County – to offer extended hours on weekdays and add weekend hours so patients will have increased access to primary health care.

The university received the grant from a U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) program, “Affordable Care Act: Nurse-Managed Clinics.” The ETSU College of Nursing will apply the grant to the Johnson City Downtown Clinic (JCDC), the Mountain City Extended Hours Health Center and the Hancock County School-Based Health Centers, three of the nine clinics in the college’s Faculty Practice Network.

“This is great news for our clinics and the patients who rely on them for primary health care,” said Dr. Patti Vanhook, Associate Dean for Practice and Community Partnerships and principal investigator for the grant. “We’ve received abundant feedback from patients who said they need health care after normal business hours, so we applied for this grant with those folks in mind.

“We expect to see a significant increase in our patient numbers because we’re expanding access.”

The College of Nursing’s oldest clinic and its flagship clinic, the JCDC, will institute evening hours within the month and Saturday morning hours as well. The Mountain City clinic will also add more evening hours, and the Hancock County clinics will begin opening on weekends during the second year of the three-year grant. All of the Faculty Practice Network clinics deliver primary health care for historically underserved populations, serving a wide spectrum of patients that include those with TennCare, the underinsured and the uninsured on a sliding fee scale.

Vanhook estimates the three clinics will see a 35 percent increase in patient encounters over the life of the grant. The JCDC, for example, had 38,350 patient visits last year, and expanded hours would increase volume by more than 13,000 visits in three years. This will enable the College of Nursing to hire additional nurse practitioners, a faculty nurse practitioner, registered nurses and administrative staff.

Dr. Wendy Nehring, Dean of the College of Nursing, said the HRSA grant will not only offer patients increased access but also provide more training opportunities for students enrolled in other ETSU Division of Health Sciences programs.

“The most important aspect of this grant is our increased ability to meet the unmet needs of patients – that will be an immediate benefit that will improve their lives immensely,” Nehring said. “The long-term benefit is that we can expand the depth and breadth of clinical training experiences for our nursing students, as well as those opportunities for allied health, behavioral health, pharmacy, public health, social work and medical students. All will have better access to valuable training that will make them better professionals who will help improve the health of our region over the long term.”

Vanhook said after-hours availability of primary care will also reduce the numbers of patients who visit the emergency room for non-emergent needs, and to that end, Johnson City Medical Center provided relevant data in support of the grant. More than 10,000 visits to the JCMC emergency department over the past two years were for non-emergent care, the hospital estimates.

“An important point to make is that in the vast majority of those cases, no one is claiming those patients aren’t in need of care – they just aren’t in need of emergent care,” Vanhook said. “What they really need is primary care and preventive care. They may be visiting the ER because they don’t have many options for after-hours care, and keeping the JCDC open late will help fill that gap.”

# # #

October 4, 2010
Media Relations Contact: Brad Lifford

ETSU Health Services: "Not enough students get meningitis vaccine"

Colleges across the country recommend students get vaccinated before arriving on their campuses.  The disease is easily transmitted inside their ivy walls.

State health departments and private doctors offer the vaccine, but it is only available to people age eleven and up.

Tennessee does not mandate that college students be immunized for meningitis before coming to campus, but it is highly recommended at schools like ETSU.

"Especially for any college students living in the dorms.  They tend to live in close quarters, they don't sleep right, eat right, they stay up too late they party too hardy," said Elizabeth Simpson, Clinical Director for ETSU's health services.

The commonwealth even goes beyond recommending.  In Virginia, all full-time college students have to be vaccinated for meningitis before enrolling, unless they sign a waiver.

ETSU College of Nursing Ph.D. program receives $890,000 grant; enrolls largest class in program history  

JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing has received an $890,000 grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support its growing nursing doctor of philosophy in nursing program, which enrolled its largest class ever this semester.

The HRSA Advanced Education Nursing Grant will be used to support a Ph.D. program that the College of Nursing recently transitioned to a blended model of education that combines online instruction with short academic and professional development sessions on campus each semester.

The class of 11 is the largest cohort in the history of the Ph.D. program, and it includes not only in-state students but also those from South Carolina, Virginia and North Carolina. The HRSA grant will be used to enhance online teaching and learning resources for faculty and students and to support faculty development in online teaching strategies.

 “Our Ph.D. program is already highly regarded for preparing nurses for careers in nursing research, leadership or academia, and the increase in class size shows that this new curriculum model resonates with students,” said Dr. Wendy Nehring, dean of the college. “The HRSA grant will help as we continue to evolve the program to meet student need for more distance learning without sacrificing the face-to-face education experience, which provides an extra layer of support through getting to know your professors and developing camaraderie with your cohort.”

The grant of nearly $900,000 and the increase in Ph.D. enrollment marks another leap forward for doctoral education at the College of Nursing. Earlier this month, the college received approval from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and the Tennessee Board of Regents to begin a doctor of nursing practice program, which will enroll its first students in January 2011.

“For any nurse who’s been considering whether to pursue a doctorate in nursing philosophy or practice, there’s never been a better time to go back to school,” said Dr. Kathleen Rayman, director of graduate programs for the college. “The geographic diversity of this Ph.D. cohort speaks to the need for us to emphasize convenience for students. We’re grateful to HRSA for awarding us grant money that will make a strong program even stronger.”

The diversity of the student base was generated in part by a program through the ETSU School of Graduate Studies that, for out-of-state graduate students, provides scholarship funding for part of the out-of-state tuition and thus brings tuition closer to in-state tuition rates.

“Our first charge is always to serve graduate students in our region and our state, but we’re always looking for ways to enhance opportunities for out-of-state students, too,” said Dr. Cecilia McIntosh, dean of the ETSU School of Graduate Studies. “Having a student population from a wide geographic base makes for a richer and stronger academic environment.”

In fact, Dr. Sadie Hutson has fielded inquiries about the doctor of philosophy program from well outside the Southeast – one prospective student called from Alaska – and even outside the country. Hutson is an assistant professor of nursing and coordinator of the Ph.D. program.

“When we conducted a needs assessment of prospective students, by and large what people said we needed was an online option,” Hutson said. “It’s exciting to see so many students in this class. The HRSA grant will allow us to continue to grow and sustain the program, so we can offer students the convenience they need to pursue a degree that will open the door to many new opportunities in nursing science.”

August 31, 2010
Media Relations Contact: Brad Lifford

ETSU College of Nursing receives approval to begin doctor of nursing practice program

JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing received approval today from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to begin a new doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program designed to help students achieve the highest levels of nursing clinical practice.

The College of Nursing will waste no time in setting the DNP program in motion. The college will begin accepting applications soon, and the first class will begin coursework in the spring semester of 2011.

THEC and the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) approved this spring an ETSU proposal to begin planning the program, which allowed the academic and curricular infrastructure to be in place.

As it will focus on advanced nursing specialties and practices, the DNP degree is ideal for nurses who want to practice at the highest levels of the profession in any clinical setting, as well as in executive leadership roles.

 “This is an exciting day for the ETSU College of Nursing because we want to grow our graduate programs, and offering a second doctoral degree is yet another step forward,” said Dr. Wendy Nehring, dean of the college. “I’ll be eager to welcome our first class of DNP students to campus. I expect intense interest, as we’ve been fielding inquiries about the degree for weeks, prior to official approval from THEC and TBR.”

ETSU already offers a doctor of philosophy in nursing degree (Ph.D.) that is designed for those who want to pursue or strengthen existing careers in research, health care administration or academia. As with the Ph.D. students, DNP students will have the benefit of a hybrid model of study where online coursework will be augmented with periodic on-campus academic and professional development experiences.

“This will be the perfect academic experience for the working student, as many of our graduate students have established careers,” said Dr. Kathleen Rayman, associate professor and director of graduate programs for the College of Nursing. “This hybrid model provides a rich academic experience, while also offering the convenience they need to balance a rigorous academic program with work and family commitments. We expect a blend of online and in-person coursework to draw a number of out-of-state students and those in other parts of Tennessee as well.”

Rayman said that with the onset of health care reform, there will be more demand than ever for nurses with advanced training in primary care and executive leadership.

“With health care reform, there is a very clear goal to have more people obtain primary care,” Rayman said, “and we’re poised with the new DNP program to help meet that objective.”

For more information on the DNP program, call the College of Nursing’s office of student services at (423) 439-4578, e-mail or visit the college Web site at Interested students may also contact the ETSU School of Graduate Studies at (423) 439-4221 for admission and application information.

August 4, 2010
Media Relations Contact: Brad Lifford

Dr. Patti Vanhook named chair of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Council

JOHNSON CITY – Dr. Patti Vanhook, Associate Dean for Practice and Community Partnerships in the East Tennessee State University College of Nursing, has been named chair of Tennessee’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Council.

The Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Council is an extension of the Tennessee Department of Health. Vanhook will lead a council charged with implementing statewide programs and activities to improve the cardiovascular health of all Tennesseans.

A board-certified family nurse practitioner, Vanhook has long been an advocate for stroke prevention, which is the third-leading cause of death in Tennessee and the state’s leading cause of disability. She previously chaired the Stroke Registry Sub-Committee of the Tennessee Stroke Systems of Care Task Force, which advocated for a new stroke registry created as part of the Tennessee Stroke Registry Act that became law in 2008.

That same year, Vanhook spearheaded a research study at the ETSU College of Nursing comparing the experiences of men and women who were recovering from strokes.

July 6, 2010
Media Relations Contact: Brad Lifford

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