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Mennonite College of Nursing wins $2.8 million grant to launch CAUSE Project

The Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) at Illinois State University received a $2.8 million Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) grant to launch the Change Agents to the Underserved: Service Education (CAUSE) project. MCN is one of 42 universities nationwide and four universities in the state of Illinois to receive the grant.

“As health care changes and shifts increasingly towards prevention, it is important that nursing education move in accordance with that shift. At Mennonite College of Nursing, we believe that delivering an excellent education to our students means that we stay on the leading edge of where health care is going. Because of that, we’re incorporating more and more primary care and preventative practice into our curriculum, first with America’s Promise and now with CAUSE,” said MCN Dean Judy Neubrander.

Increasing number of nurses in primary care

The CAUSE project aims to increase the number of nurses working in primary care at the full scope of their license, improve the health and well-being of patients outside the hospital, prevent hospital readmission, and ultimately, coordinate care and management of chronic illness, mental health, and substance use issues.

In order to accomplish this, MCN has partnered with three area organizations: McLean County Health Department (MCHD), Community Health Care Clinic (CHCC), and Chestnut Family Health Center. RNs will be embedded at each location.

Shifting toward prevention

“This truly is a partnership. Two RNs will be embedded in our clinic in order to meet the needs of patients and their families with chronic complex illnesses and health management,” said Dietra Kulicke, executive director of Chestnut Family Health Center.

“The benefits to the community are going to be profound,” said Angie McLaughlin, executive director of CHCC. “We are shifting the model of health care toward prevention. I firmly believe this is the path to the future.”

Additionally, embedded RNs will serve as preceptors to MCN’s nursing student participants, allowing students new experiences in diverse clinical settings.

Progress through partnership

“I am beyond excited to be a part of this project,” said Susie Watkins, newly hired MCN faculty member and the project’s director. “My background and doctoral research is all focused on primary care, with a special emphasis on the RN working primary care. I really look forward to see this come to life!”

“McLean County is the largest county in Illinois. Twenty-six percent of people living below 200 percent of poverty are uninsured. Beyond that, we are facing a rapidly growing 65 and older population. It is critical that we continue to shift to a more preventative model if we want to keep people healthy and out of the hospital. CAUSE is a large step in that direction,” said Cathy Coverston Anderson, assistant director at MCHD.

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