Quincy Sun // Published January 24, 2019 // By Scott Jackson
Quincy College could receive permission to re-establish its nursing program as soon as next month, which would allow the school to enroll up to 120 students in the program staring in the fall. The state Board of Registration of Nursing in May 2018 withdrew approach for the college’s Associate degree in nursing and practical nursing programs, though students set to graduate last spring and summer remained eligible to take the National Council Liscensure Exam (NCLEX). BORN had placed the college’s nursing program on approval with warning status in June 2017 with the school’s graduates passing the national liscensure exams at the lowest rate of all schools in the state.
Mayor Thomas Koch, who was named Principal Executive of the college less than one week after BORN’s decision last year did not appeal the board’s vote. Michael Bellotti, who has served as Quincy College’s interim president since November, said school officials have been working with BORN since the state board’s decision to withdraw approval for the program.
“ We let the program die. We didn’t appeal the process. Another administration might has said, ” we’re going to fight this“ and dig in,” Bellotti said in a recent interview. “ We went right into treating it like it’s a brand new program – like the other one never existed. We approached that technically, procedurally, and officially with BORN.” The process included a site visit by BORN officials in November. Then, on Jan. 11, the school submitted detailed plans regarding the nursing program to the state board.
“ They (took) with them reams and reams of paper and binders that make up the curriculum, what the program is, staffing, how we’re going to commit resources, my level of commitment,” Bellotti said. The ball is now in the state board’s court. Bellotti said the school could receive permission to restart the nursing program as soon as February.
“ Right now we are like 80 percent, 90 percent done and we need final approval to begin a nursing program for September,” Bellotti said. “ That final approval is going to come, hopefully, in February or March.” The state board, Bellotti said wants to see college leadership give the nursing program the support it requires, and consistent leadership of the nursing department.
“ They want to see consistency in management, meaning a dean that’s going to be there and committed to the program for a lengthy period of time, because they had like 5 or six deans over six or seven years, so they want to see a commitment, ” Bellotti said. “ They want to see the leadership – meaning the president and the provost – support the dean with resources and give them enough independence to run the program based on their training, experience, and qualifications.”
“ I don’t want to revisit what happened, but i think as I look back… there might have been a disconnect between the administration and the nursing program for whatever reason. ( BORN) wants to know that the college leadership is going to give the dean and the nursing program all the resources they need and they are committed to the mission, which is a strong curriculum, qualified staff, and give them enough independence – with oversight- to run the program.”
If approved, Quincy College would be able to enroll up to 120 students in the two nursing programs, Belloti said. Of those, 80 students could enroll in the Associates Degree in Nursing program and 40 could enroll in the LPN program. The students would be split between the college’s campuses in Quincy and Plymouth. The program would be under increased scruitiny over the next two or three years, and BORN wants to see at least at 80 percent of graduates passing the national liscensing exam.
“ There is going to, obviously, be heightened scrutiny on that, but in essence, you’ve got a program,” Bellotti said. “ You have to make sure those students, when they graduate – the LPN graduate in 10 months, the Associates in two years – as those cohorts graduate, they have to have at least 80 percent on the NCLEX.”
The college will seek to increase the number of nursing students it can admit after the program is up and running again, Bellotti said. The president credited Koch and Roxanne Mihal – who Koch hired as the dean of the nursing program in July – for keeping all nursing faculty on staff after the state board withdrew approval for the program.
“ It’s important to note when the mayor took over he made a decision through the input of Roxanne Mihal .. it was really her leadership with the support of the mayor to keep the faculty on, ” Bellotti said.
Koch and the college’s Board of Governors, Bellotti added made the right call by offering full reimbursement to all nursing students who did not graduate from the school following BORN’s decision last May – not just students who were unable to continue their education elsewhere. “ One thing they did at Mount Ida they didn’t do ( at Quincy College), which is why I think there was less of a fallout when this program died is they reimbursed all the nursing students for all their credits. ” Bellotti said referring to Mount Ida College, a private liberal arts school in Newton that closed last spring.
“ They could have said to some of the nursing students, ” if you don’t get into another school, we’ll reimburse you. If you do, we won’t. What the Mayor decided to do through the rainy day fund was to just reimburse and keep everybody whole. So you could have done a year and half at Quincy College, went to UMass, and paid for one semester and you were reimbursed for this. “ Bellotti said more than 240 Nursing students received reimbursements which cost about $3 Million total. The money for the reimbursements came from the college’s reserve fund. The reserve account had $15 million inside it before the reimbursements, Bellliotti said. The reserve fund is down to about $9 million now.
” It was at $15 million. We tapped it for $3 million. We have a $2 Million deficit this year – maybe $2.4 or $2.5 but we’re operating at $2.1,“ Bellotti said. You’re going to have like $9 million in the rainy day fund.” He expects the college will be able to start rebuilding the reserve account once the nursing program restarts.
“We’re positioned now to start turning things around financially with the nursing program coming back, stabilizing the finances over there, the spending,” Bellotti said. “ We’re still in a rebuilding stage but it’s very positive. The school really is now on the move in the right direction, and the Nursing program being re-established is a big part of that.”