Group looks ahead to remedy coming nurse shortage

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Cape Girardeau Partnership for Higher Education is in the process of evaluating the need for more health care-related education programs.

At the newly formed organization's meeting, Mary Becker, senior vice-president of the Missouri Hospital Association, gave an interesting presentation on current and anticipated needs for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. Registered nurses make up 60 percent of a hospital's work force, Becker said.

In 2009 there was a vacancy rate of 3.9 percent for registered nurses at Southeast Missouri hospitals and a vacancy rate of 4.5 percent for licensed practical nurses.

"These low vacancy rates are short-lived," Becker said.

There are a combination of factors contributing to nursing shortages that are likely to get worse.

At the same time the baby boomer population is aging, many current nurses are expected to be retiring. The average age of a nurse in the United States is 48, Becker said.

In Southeast Missouri, by the year 2014, the percentage of residents older than 65 will be 16.8, Becker said.

The number of those suffering from multiple chronic diseases like diabetes, arthritis and obesity also is increasing.

"People are living longer and with more chronic diseases," she said.

Another factor to consider is that by the year 2014, when federal health care reform is fully implemented, 495,000 currently uninsured Missourians will gain access to health coverage, Becker said.

Nursing education programs are running short on instructors, facilities and partner medical practices where students can get required hands-on clinical experience.

In 2009, nursing education programs in the U.S. turned away 39,423 students, she said.

With 183 students enrolled, the Cape Girardeau Partnership for Higher Education started its first semester of classes this week at the Cape Career and Technology Center. Its advisory board will continue to study the need for health care education in this area and make a recommendation to its cooperating colleges later this year. The Partnership includes Southeast Missouri State University, Mineral Area College and Three Rivers Community College.

* Hickory House coming to Jackson: Retired contractor and former butcher Ron Nevils has purchased the Mazzio's building at 2259 E. Jackson Blvd., where he plans to open Hickory House Restaurant later this year. The building was owned by Bank of Missouri.

"We felt Jackson needed a good family dining, sit-down restaurant," said Nevils, who moved to Jackson from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., five years ago to be closer to his grandchildren.

Early in his career, Nevils was a butcher and meat department manager, and he's continued to do meat cutting through the years.

Interior renovation is underway, and additions will soon be constructed to expand the restroom areas. When the Hickory House opens, likely in late November or early December, it will feature new flooring, wall finishes and furniture. The kitchen is also being completely redone, Nevils said.

* Jackson antique store plans grand opening: Hubble Creek Antiques & More has opened at 3814 N. High St. in Jackson, across from the Knights of Columbus Hall. In addition to antiques, it features furniture, quilts and floral items, owner Della Bollinger said. Store hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. A percentage of sales will go to Safe House for Women and Teen Challenge. Bollinger has been a vendor at craft shows for many years and previously had a booth at Country Shade Craft Mall in Cape Girardeau. A grand opening is planned for Friday.

* New smartphone app links hospital to patients: Southeast Missouri Hospital has joined with the makers of iTriage, a smartphone application, in an effort to make its facilities and doctors more accessible to potential patients.

The free iTriage app is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, Android and Palm and information can be accessed at www.itriagehealth.com. The app helps users search medical symptoms, learn about possible causes, find the nearest locations for treatment and search for doctors and specialists.

While the application doesn't exclusively access physicians and facilities affiliated with Southeast Missouri Hospital, through its sponsorship agreement with the company the hospital is able to provide additional background information, photos and videos as part of the application. Hospital officials hope the app will be used by local residents and those traveling through the area who may be unfamiliar with local health care options.

* Winery renovates, adds e-booking: River Ridge Winery in Commerce, Mo., recently completed an addition to its production facility and has added a second pavilion that can be e-booked for special events such as weddings and parties. Renovations to the River Front Guest House in Commerce, which is two miles from the winery on Water Street, also were recently completed. The guest house is on the same property as The Yule Log Cabin Christmas Store, which will open for the season Sept. 1. Along with about 50 decorated Christmas trees in a variety of themes, the store also features Halloween and fall decor.

* March raises funds for March of Dimes: Cape Girardeau's March for Babies raised $37,000 this year, the March of Dimes has announced. The 2011 March for Babies will be May 7 at the Boardman Pavilion in downtown Cape Girardeau. Cathy Abrams, director of Maternal and Child Services at Saint Francis Medical Center, will again chair the 2011 March for Babies event.

* Insurance group wins award: Marathon Benefits Group received a Premier Partners award from Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield in recognition of its high level of individual medical insurance sales. Marathon Benefits Group is one of only 21 firms in the state to receive this designation. The Marathon team serves on the state advisory board for Anthem where they communicate the insurance needs of individuals and groups and compare product offerings with other network providers across the state, said Steve Marchbanks, co-owner of Marathon.

* Ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday: Plaza Tire Service will hold a ribbon cutting at its new facility from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at 1638 N. Kingshighway.

* New restaurant opens on Broadway: Asian Express will open in September in the former Blimpie location at 1001 Broadway in Cape Girardeau. Owner Bi Xing Liu also operates Chan's restaurant at 1159 North Kingshighway.

* For your Halloween and party needs: The Kostume Shoppe will open Sept. 6 in the former Pasta House location inside West Park Mall. The store will have about 4,000 square feet of costumes to choose from. It will remain open through Halloween.

Southeast Missourian business reporter Melissa Miller may be contacted at 388-3646 or mmiller@semissourian.com.

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