Ivy Tech and Union Health Partner to Drive Healthcare Impact in Terre Haute
Impact on Indiana: Ivy Tech and Our Communities is a series of profiles demonstrating how Ivy Tech Community College impacts communities across the state. The following profile spotlights the relationship between the College and Union Health in Terre Haute.
Impact on Indiana: If you need another reason to appreciate how Ivy Tech – which produces more associate nursing degrees than any school in Indiana – impacts the healthcare of Hoosiers, look no further than Union Health in Terre Haute.
The pipeline between the hospital and the College is indispensable to the health and welfare of people in west central Indiana. Union Health is the only Indiana hospital its size with a fully-staffed respiratory unit – thanks largely to health care professionals who have earned degrees at Ivy Tech. In fact, the system director for imaging at the hospital has an entire leadership team made up of Ivy Tech alumni.
About 1 in 5 people on the hospital’s staff – more than 600 – are Ivy Tech graduates. Union Health has served as a clinical site for the Terre Haute campus’s students for more than 50 years. The experiences create an ideal pathway to full-time employment and, last year, the Union Health Foundation announced a $1 million gift to Ivy Tech’s Terre Haute campus, allowing the School of Nursing to expand its enrollment while helping the School of Health Sciences develop a robust pipeline for future healthcare professionals.
Impact on Health: Jimmy McKanna is the director of respiratory therapy at Union Health. He has a degree in respiratory therapy from the Ivy Tech’s Terre Haute campus, and he’s finding ways to solve complex problems for patients and the hospital alike.
“After we got through the majority of COVID-19 at the hospital, I took on another duty called ‘Hospital at Home,’” said McKanna. “Our goal is to give acute care services in people’s homes to move them outside the four walls we have here.”
The pandemic may have changed healthcare forever – but Union Health changed along with it to meet the needs of patients and serve more Hoosiers across Terre Haute.
“We’re doing remote patient monitoring,” McKanna said. “We started doing that during the height of COVID-19 when we had a lot of patients here and needed to send them home a little bit early. We put monitors on them, watch them from the hospital, and we call them if they have problems. We watch their oxygen, their heart rate, their respiratory rate, and all those different parameters to make sure they are doing OK and make sure they follow up with their doctors.”
McKanna secured a $90,000 grant from the hospital’s foundation to fund the program, which now opens beds – without compromising care – for patients who need it most.
Impact on People: Courtney Chastain grew up in Brazil, a small town in west central Indiana. At age 15 she helped to care for her grandmother, who had suffered from a stroke. As a result, Courtney pursued a career in patient care.
In 2004, she was in the first registered nurse class to graduate from Ivy Tech’s Terre Haute campus. Today, Courtney is a clinical educator for Union Health’s critical care unit and cardiac catheterization lab, an examination room with diagnostic imaging equipment where cardiac procedures take place. Prior to her role as a nurse educator, Courtney worked in the intensive care unit as a bedside nurse.
“I wanted to work with patients and work closely with people in healthcare,” said Chastain. “There are a lot of areas of healthcare where you can impact people but working at the bedside and being able to help them when they’re sick and see them improve was a big driving factor for me.”
A new nurse apprenticeship program is another output of the partnership between Union Health and Ivy Tech. Like a welding or carpentry apprenticeship program, the hospital interviews and hires nursing students who are paid to work while going to school. The first cohort of nurse apprentices from Ivy Tech will graduate in May and the next group is already being onboarded.
“Our goal is they will graduate more confident and more prepared – and we’re already seeing that,” said Chastain.
You can learn more about the apprenticeships offered through Ivy Tech at the College’s website.