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Grant to fund chronic illness research center

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Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing has received a five-year, $2.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish a new research center for chronic illness.

The Center for Cognition and Affect in Chronic Illness will focus on the symptoms of emotional and cognitive decline commonly associated with chronic illness. The center will promote and support research into the biological and behavioral basis of how chronic illness can influence patients’ thoughts, decisions and emotions.

The center will be led by associate professor Drenna Waldrop-Valverde, Ph.D., a psychologist specializing in neuropsychology. Her research focuses on how chronic illnesses, including HIV, affect brain function and the ability of patients to practice self-care.

"As the U.S. population continues to age, the prevalence of chronic illness and related cognitive and affective symptoms will also increase," Waldrop-Valverde said. "This center will help advance our understanding of the complexities of chronic disease management and the critical role that nursing can play in helping patients and their families manage their conditions."

Grand opening: Hundreds of cancer patients, caregivers, community members and public officials celebrated the grand opening of Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southeastern Regional Medical Center last month.

The 226,000-square-foot, fully digital hospital in Newnan focuses on complex and advanced-stage cancer. The hospital includes 25 private inpatient rooms, surgical suites, state-of-the-art radiation and infusion therapy departments, an outpatient clinic, rehabilitation and physical therapy, a dining room, chapel and onsite residential accommodations for outpatients and their families.

"We are committed to serving cancer patients and their families with high-quality care and service excellence," said Kane Dawson, president and CEO of CTCA at Southeastern. "At the same time, we are here to be a visible and valued partner in this community."

Capitol idea: Victoria Foster, an assistant professor of nursing at Clayton State University, presented her study, "Factors Associated with Risky Sexual Behaviors in Older Adults," to the Hartford Policy Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C., last month.

The institute promoted the development of practical advocacy skills including communicating with policy makers, building coalitions and developing a rapport with staff/elected officials.
As a part of the institute, Foster spoke with congressmen serving Clayton and Coweta counties about the special needs of the aging population.

Her study was presented in a mock hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging.

New dean: Diane White, Georgia Perimeter College's dean of Health Sciences since 2009, has been named dean of Georgia Gwinnett College's planned School of Health Sciences. White will formulate a bachelor's program in nursing and seek its certification by the Georgia Board of Nursing.

The Lawrenceville school plans to begin nursing classes in its recently approved $25 million Allied Health and Sciences building by fall 2014.

GHSU scholarships: For the fifth consecutive year, MSN clinical nurse leader students at Georgia Health Sciences University have received scholarships from the New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, launched the program in 2008 to alleviate the national nursing shortage and fuel the pipeline of diverse nurses. GHSU is the only school in Georgia to receive this funding and has received $430,000 in scholarship funding over the past five years.

The program has supported 43 GHSU students since 2008, including 10 students receiving $10,000 scholarships for 2012-13. They are Kim Alexander of Warner Robins, James Barry of Atlanta, Cristina Basulescu of Suwanee, Alana Burnett of Sandersville, Philip Kong of Nicolson, Chi Nguyen of Savannah, Malissa Taylor-Thomas of Fort Pope, N.C., Stephanie Varon of North Augusta, S.C., Xuon Vuong of Lawrenceville and Michael (Ty) Wright of Montrose.

Schools receiving awards provide scholarships directly to students from groups underrepresented in nursing or from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Recipients of the scholarships have already earned a bachelor's degree in another field and are making a professional transition to nursing through accelerated nursing degree programs.

Distinguished alumni: Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing has announced its Nurses' Alumni Association award winners for 2012.

Marcia Stanhope (Class of 1971, MN) won the Distinguished Nursing Achievement Award. Stanhope, DSN, RN, FAAN, is the Good Samaritan endowed professor and chair in community health at the University of Kentucky’s College of Nursing. She also was senior author of “Public Health Nursing: Population Centered Health Care in the Community.”

The Award of Honor went to Rose Cannon (Class of 1974, MN; Class of 1995, Ph.D). Cannon, who has more than 37 years of experience in maternal and newborn nursing practice and education, is a former clinical associate professor at Emory’s nursing school. She has mentored Emory students through the shadow-a-nurse program, which gives students hands-on clinical experience by working alongside nursing alumni.

The winner of the Excellence in Nursing Service Award is Anita Rich (Class of 1981, BSN). Rich, BSN, RN, PCCN, has taken medical missions to some of the world's most impoverished countries. She has been a nurse transporter for Children's Heart Project/Samaritan's Purse, bringing children and their mothers to the United States for lifesaving heart surgeries.
In 2011, Rich formed Nurses Heart to Heart, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching advanced nursing skills in developing countries. She has been a nurse at Emory University Hospital and Emory Johns Creek Hospital.

Rebecca Wheeler (Class of 2006, BSN; Class of 2012, Ph.D.) won the Recent Graduate Award. Wheeler, Ph.D., RN, is president-elect of the Georgia Nurses Association and is president of Emory’s chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International.

She is a member of the Congress on Nursing Practice and Economics of the American Nurses Association. She has also made contributions to global health initiatives in Kenya and Mexico.

New CNO: Joyce M. Soule, a leader in the field of medical and perioperative nursing for nearly 20 years, has been named chief nursing officer (CNO) for St. Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta.
Soule, RN, BSN, MSN, comes to St. Joseph's from Medical City Dallas Hospital in Texas, a 680-bed adult and pediatric Magnet re-designated hospital. There she served as vice president of surgical services.

“Joyce’s leadership style encompasses team development, transparency, collegial decision making, renewing culture, strategic planning/execution and shared governance,” said Scott Schmidly, CEO of St. Joseph’s Hospital. “I am confident that she will prove to be an outstanding CNO for our hospital.”

An Iowa native, Soule brings leadership experience in both academic and private hospital settings. Her expertise also focuses on the clinical, regulatory and financial elements critical to the success of nursing operations and achieving Magnet designation.

Soule holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing and a Master of Science in nursing: health care administration, both from Graceland University in Iowa.