Budget Cuts Suspend Plans to Enlarge Nursing Program

Shatto Light
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Gov. Gray Davis’ budget cuts have halted construction plans for the new aviation and nursing building on campus.

If the money is not restored, the result would be a restriction on the number of students entering the nursing program and receiving training as nurses, said Sharon Hall, the college’s Associate Dean of Allied Health. Gov. Davis’ $98 million cut in funds for community colleges in the 2001-2002 budget means a loss of more than $600,000 to GCC; money that was to be earmarked for maintenance programs, building projects, and instructional equipment.

Hall said GCC’s goal is to respond to the community’s shortage of nurses by enlarging on the existing program by to provide nurses for area hospitals.

The new facility is crucial to the program, because it will increase classrooms needed for students entering the program.

Besides affecting the nursing program, the budget cut forces the college’s students to work with outdated computers and fewer lab supplies, and could result in higher fees to shoulder expenses.

Neighboring Pasadena City College has not yet felt the crunch, but nursing administrators are looking toward alternative funding for needed equipment, said Mary E. Wynn, Division Chair of Health Sciences at the college.

One possibility is to take money from the state-funded Partnership for Excellence program, which is reserved for academic expenses.

“Our main goal is to increase our retention, and the number of people completing and receiving certificates,” said Wynn. “That probably would qualify us to take some money from the program, to buy equipment for the students.”

At Mt. San Antonio College, Maria Torres, secretary to vacationing Nursing Department Dean Barbara Napper, said, “The state approved grant for the equipment that would benefit the program and the community has been frozen.”

Representatives of the community college districts presented the budget last
month to the governor for a second look. “He [Gov. Davis] can decide what to do: either to sign it or to line it down to a lower amount,” said Hall. “And nobody knows, what he’s going to do with the building project.”

There is a shortage of health professionals nationwide, particularly in California.

“We have to understand how critical [the shortage] of nurses is,” said Hall. “If we don’t have enough nurses in the ER, the emergency room closes. It can’t accept patients. If the operating room is closed and the nursing unit is closed, you can’t deliver health care. We must have an adequate supply of nurses in order to have health care.”

The outcome of the governor’s budget review will be announced next week.