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$100,000 donated to NFC Foundation Lab to be named in Ireland’s honor

John Willoughby

With gratitude, North Florida College (NFC) graciously accepted a generous donation from the Parker Poe Charitable Trust in the name of the late Kate Ireland, and NFC is set to memorialize the great "Miss Kate" by naming the NFC Nursing Simulation Lab in her honor.

The donation was formally made on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the to-be-named Kate Ireland Simulation Lab in the NFC Career and Technical Education Building on campus. In attendance for the occasion was John Grosskopf, NFC President; Julie Townsend, director of NFC's Nursing and Allied Health program; Judy Lundell, NFC Foundation Director; Janegale Boyd, NFC Foundation Board Member; Kim Scarboro, NFC College Advancement; and Danny MacQuirter, Allen Mooney and Barnes Investment Advisor.

According to Townsend, funds from the Parker Poe Charitable Trust will not only be used to name NFC's simulation lab after Miss Kate, but to further the variety of hands-on education, which is a pertinent asset to NFC and their nursing and allied health program.

"I think it shows confidence on the people we serve; that we are a good investment for them," said President Grosskopf. "For years, we have enjoyed the confidence of our students because –  especially in the 21st century – students have limitless choices for education … but people pick us and they choose us and I think we've proven ourselves worthy."

President Grosskopf believes that the confidence instilled in the nurses that the program produces and the outstanding pass rates NFC boasts gives everyone a sight of value in their investment into the North Florida school.

"One of the reasons why we're able to get those clinical sites and hospitals that are not in our community is because Julie and her instructors hold our students to such a high level," said President Grosskopf. "Hospitals in Tallahassee, for example, prefer our students to [Tallahassee Community College's] students because they preform at a higher professional level."

There's no doubt that Miss Kate's gift of $100,000 will make an even greater difference in the community of North Florida by building a stronger healthcare system. Miss Kate herself was no stranger to helping build and strengthen education and medical services in her community.

Born in Ohio, Miss Kate was considered a local treasure who dedicated herself to restoring and maintaining the Red Hills of North Florida and South Georgia, which she called her home for many years prior to her passing on Feb. 15, 2011, at the age of 80.

Miss Kate descended from a prominent lineage of american businessmen, including her great-grandfather, Howard Melville Hanna, who founded the iron ore processing M.A. Hanna Company, in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1840. Philanthropy, a trait passed down from the Ireland family, was not a hidden desire for Miss Kate, as she lived her life giving.

In the 50s and 60s, Miss Kate's strong leadership skills allowed her to excel within the Frontier Nursing Service, a Kentucky-based organization serving rural, underserved populations. Miss Kate's name was added to the service's Board of Governors and was named national chairperson in 1975. Her inspiration to the service was honored in 1987 when The Kate Ireland Women's Health Care Center was dedicated in her honor with much praise from the Frontier Nursing Service Board of Governors.

In addition to her endeavors, Miss Kate was a founding partner and chairman of Allen Mooney and Barnes Investment Advisors of Thomasville and Tallahassee. She has been honored with many awards such as the Degree of Doctor of Humanitarian Pursuits from Cumberland College, in Williamsburg, Ky.; and the 1995 Volunteer of the Year award by Tallahassee Democrat and Volunteer Big Bend. Miss Kate was also commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Miss Kate's commitment to helping rural communities thrive in education and medical services continues through the Parker Poe Charitable Trust, which was established by Ireland to fund deserving organizations and projects that make a profound difference.

The recent donation by the Parker Poe Charitable Trust will allow the simulation lab to excel by getting OB/GYN mannequins – a mother and a child – for the purpose of giving the students further training in delivery. The pregnant abdomen can also be removed, allowing the mannequin to be used multiple times throughout a semester, not just during OB/GYN training, Townsend added.

"In our six-county service district, there's no maternity services for delivery," said Townsend. "So, we have to go outside to South Georgia Medical Center, in Valdosta; Archbold Hospital, in Thomsville; and then, Lake City, to be able to get that OB/GYN delivery [care]. So, being able to have that simulator here on campus, they can do a large portion of their training and then just go to their clinical site for actual live care to follow up and to finish off that training."

Currently, nursing students, and on occasion, emergency medical technician and paramedic students, can be found in the NFC simulation lab on a weekly basis. A number of high-quality mannequin allow students to work in real-life scenarios to strengthen their ability to perform in live care. The high-fidelity mannequins have lungs, a heart and other characteristics that give students the confidence of working with real patients.

In 2018, the program added a wireless mannequin, which is operated through an internal compressor. This mannequin has the capability of secretion through tear and sweat ducts, and the mannequin's eyes dilate and blink, as well.

"[Miss Kate] would be so proud to know that she's helping these eight counties and students," said Janegale Boyd, member of the NFC Foundation Board. "Miss Kate had a real heart for helping people, especially healthcare."

The NFC nursing programs boast high graduation rates; all of which Miss Kate was very impressed with before her passing. According to NFC, in 2018, NFC RN students had an 86.67 percent first-attempt pass rate compared to the national average of 88.29 percent and Florida average of 72.74 percent. In the same year, NFC Practical Nursing graduates soared above the state and national averages in pass rate with 86.96 percent of graduates passing their licensing exams on their first attempt.

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