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$3.2M Hospital Foundation Gift Expands Richland Nursing Programs


The EnRich Healthcare program – a collaboration between Decatur Memorial Hospital and Richland Community College – aims to triple the number of qualified students applying for enrollment into the college’s nursing and health care professions programs.

“The infusion of essential skills and trauma-informed practices through the EnRich Healthcare program at Richland will help build a stronger and more resilient workforce, leading more individuals on the path to success,” said Dr. Cristobal “Cris” Valdez, president, Richland Community College. “This collaborative work not only increases health care education opportunities, but it also meets workforce needs in the Decatur area.”

The grant is the largest ever awarded by Decatur Memorial Foundation.

The funding allows Richland to integrate and expand the use of technology, implementing increased simulation learning in classroom, lab and clinical settings. In addition, the community college will create at least three faculty positions and four new administrative positions to accommodate the program’s expansion.

"I am so thankful for the opportunity to participate in the EnRich Healthcare program because the people I meet in the program are going to be my support team while I pursue my dream of becoming a nurse," said Sky Mallernee, EnRich Healthcare program student and a student nurse at Decatur Memorial Hospital.

The grant from Decatur Memorial Foundation also eases financial burden to attend nursing school, allowing substantial scholarships to be made available to prospective nursing and clinical students.

“This partnership between the hospital and the community college will remove barriers that many students face as they pursue higher education,” said Julie Bilbrey, executive director, Decatur Memorial Foundation.

Students in the program have the opportunity to work and learn on the campus of Decatur Memorial Hospital. Officials hope graduates of the EnRich Healthcare program will consider employment at the nonprofit hospital, where “homegrown” nurses and clinical staff are vital to the continuation of the hospital’s mission to improve lives and build stronger communities through better health,” said Drew Early, president and CEO, Decatur Memorial Hospital.

“Our partnership provides the potential for real solutions to the health care workforce shortage and workforce development issues in our community,” said Early.

For EnRich Healthcare students who work at the hospital, the partnership between Richland and Decatur Memorial Hospital serves to reinforce and strengthen students’ drive to deliver skillful and compassionate health care – close to home.

"I’m excited about my future and I love working at our local hospital,” said Chelsea Grider, EnRich Healthcare program student and a student nurse at Decatur Memorial Hospital. “Gaining experience while participating in the nursing program at Richland is helping me dream bigger for my life, and keep working to achieve my professional goals.”

For more information about the Decatur Memorial Foundation, call 217-876-2146. To donate to the RCC Nursing Expansion project, visit and designate your gift to Health Care Education.

For more information about the EnRich Healthcare program, visit