Health

Drug & alcohol abuse prevention trumps politics in D.C.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Preventing drug and alcohol abuse is not a political issue. Milan Karna saw that firsthand this week as he attended a roundtable discussion hosted by President Donald Trump at the White House. Karna, coordinator of the Wood County Prevention Coalition, was asked to attend the 20-year anniversary of the Office of the National Drug Control Policy’s Drug-Free Communities Support Program grant awards in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Karna was one of six grant recipients present from the 731 programs in the nation. The programs – which work to prevent drug and alcohol abuse by youth – were awarded $90.9 million. The Wood County Prevention Coalition’s piece of the pie was $125,000. This is the fifth year for the local coalition to receive federal funding. “The coalition is neutral,” Karna said. “It’s public service for the betterment of the entire community.” Karna was gratified that the current administration appeared to understand the value of the prevention programs. “I understand people have different feelings about different political figures,” Karna said. Both Ohio senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman have been long-time supporters of funding the programs – but the support of the administration was unproven. “It was encouraging to hear this administration has agreed to allow this program to continue,” Karna said. During the roundtable discussion, youths from some of the prevention coalitions spoke of the reasons behind their commitment to the cause. President Donald Trump shared his personal story of his brother’s alcohol addiction. “He seemed very sincere,” Karna said. “I could sense that he was personally affected.” Karna has his own personal story that spurs his efforts to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. Karna’s father had issues with alcohol and tobacco. He was able to quit drinking – but had a much tougher time with smoking – even after undergoing a quintuple bypass. “He was asking my brother and me for cigarettes,” shortly after the surgery, Karna said. His father, who grew up in Yugoslavia, started smoking at age 5. He died in 2012 at age 72. “I think that’s something that drives me,” Karna said. It’s a motivator for many. “I think this is an issue a lot of people care about. There is a lot of grief and energy to do something,” Karna said. That may be why the issue has the ability to cross political lines. “Prevention is something…


BG may completely snuff out smoking in city parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Visitors to Bowling Green’s parks may soon be able to take a deep breath of fresh air without the chance of gagging on secondhand smoke. The Bowling Parks and Recreation Board is discussing the possibility of making all city parks completely smoke-free. The city has long banned smoking in park buildings. Then in 2007, the policy was taken a step further. “At that point the staff was very concerned about smoking near our programs and around our younger users,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city’s parks and recreation department. In order to keep smoking away from ballparks, playgrounds, and shelter houses, the park board banned smoking in all areas except parking lots. In 2015, vaping was included in the smoking restrictions. But on Tuesday evening, the parks and rec board discussed taking the smoking ban further. “Is now the time to go completely smoke free? It’s to the point when there are people doing it, it really bothers the other people,” Otley said. “So we’re just sort of exploring it.” A smoking ban seems to blend well with the park department philosophy. “One of our core values is health,” Otley said. “We want to make sure we’re providing healthy environments and opportunities to the community.” Both Bowling Green State University and Wood County Hospital have banned smoking on their campuses. It is guessed that some of those employees take a short drive to the parks for a smoke. “We’ve been getting a lot more people making comments,” Otley said. And park staff has noticed an uptick in cigarette butts being tossed in the parks. Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz recently made signs to post at Wintergarden Park making it clear that people cannot smoke as they walk the trails. “How frustrating is that – when you’re trying to enjoy nature,” Otley said. The board seemed supportive of the complete smoking ban in the parks, but will continue to discuss the matter at the next monthly meeting. The only concern expressed was that a full ban could affect the park building rentals. The new requirement would be posted on rental rules. The new smoking rule would be enforced by park staff – as are the current restrictions. “For the most part, they respect that,” Otley said of those asked to extinguish their cigarettes. If staff ran into problems, they would call city…


Opiate addicts find lifeline in local ARC program

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Fighting the opioid crisis can be like aiming at a moving target. Drugs get more potent, people are prone to relapse, and some proposed laws work against success. But it appears that Wood County’s Addiction Response Collaborative is having an impact. “We’re making inroads,” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson told the county commissioners Tuesday morning. In the six months that the ARC has been up and running, the program has been alerted to 80 individuals who have overdosed. “Some of those have overdosed multiple times,” Dobson said. Of those 80, five died. While tragic, that number is far less than the 16 people who died of opiate overdoses in 2016 in Wood County. The ARC team, made up of Belinda Brooks and Det. Sgt. Ryan Richards, had contact with the 75 addicts who overdosed, three of whom refused help. Of the addicts, 55 cases were referred to ARC by law enforcement officers, and 22 were referred by family members. “Those are great numbers,” Dobson said of those referred by family. That means the word is getting out to more than just law enforcement. “I was pleasantly surprised. People are contacting the program.” Of those working with the ARC program, four overdosed a second time and are currently in treatment. “That’s a great number when you’re talking about 75 people.” The ARC Quick Response Team responds to overdose incidents and other addiction-related incidents and calls. The team initiates a conversation with the survivor and family members. The goal is to encourage and offer assistance in obtaining treatment and counseling through multiple local behavioral health providers. During the past six months, Brooks and Richards have made 611 contacts with the 75 addicts – following up with them, encouraging them, looking for any gaps in the services, Dobson said. In addition to the Quick Response Team, the program works with programs in the court system, including a diversion program, analyzing the current intervention process being used by the court and the implementation of a court docket specific to addiction. Initially, some of the law enforcement offices in the county were suspect of working with the ARC. “There was more law enforcement resistance,” Dobson said. Some police agencies feared the ARC would take over cases. “That’s not our intention. We step in with ‘What can we do to help?’” In fact, Richards often shares information…


Patients feel loss of Dr. Lavey at cancer care center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Barbara Forbes got the news Dr. Robert Lavey was leaving the Wood County Hospital cancer center, she was certain he had taken a job at a bigger hospital. “He’s so gifted,” said Forbes, who was diagnosed with stage 4 Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in April 2017. “His expertise, his intelligence, his knowledge, his compassion, his communication are above and beyond.” Then Forbes was informed that Lavey had been terminated at the cancer center. “I’m being brutally frank – I was absolutely devastated when I heard he was leaving,” she said. “We’ve lost a gift and someone else is getting a gift.” Lavey, who had been medical director of the cancer center since its opening in 2014, said he was terminated in July at the Maurer Family Cancer Care Center after the number of patients being treated at the center dropped. He had been hired in November of 2013 to help design the center, select the staff, choose the equipment, and set the policies and procedures. His was the smiling face associated with the cancer center. “I feel a real pride in what we’ve done for the community and the services we provide for the patients and their families,” Lavey said during one of his final days at Wood County Hospital. “I am very much invested emotionally in the services.” Lavey said he was told the decision to end his employment was “just business.” “I was simply given notice I was being terminated.” Wood County Hospital President Stan Korducki declined to answer questions about Lavey’s departure. “I can’t comment on any personnel matters,” he said. Korducki stressed that the Maurer Family Cancer Care Center continues to provide quality patient care. “I can’t make any comment about Dr. Lavey,” he said. “We continue to have excellent physician services at the Maurer Cancer Center. Nothing has changed in terms of that.” Lavey said he was in the middle of a contract set to expire on March 30, 2019. The hospital has replaced him with Dr. Dhaval Parikh, who is board certified in radiation oncology and has practiced for more than 20 years. According to the hospital, Parikh provides care for patients “with all types of cancers through highly conformal radiation therapies, which matches the radiation beams to the shape of the tumor for precise treatment. He is well-versed in a variety of advanced treatment techniques…


Tipping the scales – local fight against childhood obesity

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Diane Krill was a child, she spent summer days playing in the park – not parked in front of the TV. “We were there from sun up to sundown,” she said of days of non-stop activity. “We didn’t go home until the dinner bell rang.” But times are different now, said Krill, CEO of the Wood County Community Health Center. Parents afraid to let their children roam the neighborhood sometimes prefer to use the TV as a babysitter. And when they do activities – like soccer or baseball – busy parents often rush through a fast food drive thru to pick up dinner. “We are seeing trends that are leading from childhood to adulthood,” said Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. The likelihood that an obese child will learn healthy eating and exercise habits as an adult is, well, slim. So on Tuesday, the Wood County Health Department held a meeting on childhood obesity for interested community members. A recently conducted Community Health Assessment showed that 72 percent of Wood County adults are overweight or obese – higher than the state average of 67 percent. That adds up to about 37,000 Wood County adults who can be labeled as obese. “That seems staggering,” Batey said. “What can we do about that?” The survey found slightly better results among local youth, where the number of obese youth dropped a bit in the last three years. “We’re seeing a positive trend with our youth, and we don’t want to lose that,” he said. A big problem appears to be that many Wood County adults are not modeling healthy exercise or eating habits for their children. And discussing people’s diets can be a potential minefield – like bringing up politics or religion, Batey said. When surveyed about exercise, many local adults said they don’t have time for physical activity. However, in the same survey, adults averaged 2.4 hours a day watching TV, 1.5 hours on their cell phones, and 1.4 hours on the computer for non-work items. “We’re not taking time to get up and move,” Batey said. “I’m not saying don’t watch TV. But get up and move while you’re watching TV.” Batey admitted to being a “couch potato” himself, and eating too much fast food – until he and his wife had their first child. “This is about childhood obesity. But kids…


Hospice of NW Ohio seeks volunteers, offers training

From HOSPICE OF NORTHWEST OHIO Hospice of Northwest Ohio is seeking compassionate individuals to provide companionship and support to patients living in long-term care facilities and in their own homes. Volunteers play a vital role in enhancing the end-of-life experience for our patients and their families. The skills and interests of each volunteer are matched to the important needs within our organization. Hospice volunteers receive comprehensive training to ensure they have the confidence to perform this important role. Training includes understanding the hospice philosophy of care, communicating with patients and families, learning about what to expect at the end of life as well as basic health and safety precautions. For more information about becoming a volunteer and when the next training session is planned, contact the Hospice Volunteer Department at 419-931-5534 or jtucholski@hospicenwo.org. To learn more about Hospice of Northwest Ohio or to complete a volunteer application, visit our website at www.hospicenwo.org. Find us also on FaceBook and Twitter.


Weighty issues – county citizens getting fatter & sadder

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County residents have gotten fatter and sadder in the last three years. The latest Community Health Assessment results for Wood County adults show growing numbers of people carrying around extra weight physically and mentally. Nearly 40 percent of local adults classify themselves as obese, while another 33 percent say they are overweight. A total of 14 percent of adults reported feeling sad or hopeless for two or more consecutive weeks. The surveys are conducted every three years by the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio. “We can be confident that this is pretty accurate,” Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey said earlier this week. A total of 1,200 adult surveys were mailed out to randomly selected residences. In order to be statistically accurate, 383 responses were needed. A total of 431 adults responded. The youth surveys fared even better, since they were conducted at schools. The health survey process began in 2008 – which allows the health department make comparisons to past health data. “How are we trending? Are we getting better in this trending?” Batey asked. The answer is yes and no. Overall, the youth data is positive. “I was very happy to see the trends with our youth,” Batey said. “We’re either holding the line or improving.” Obesity and overweight numbers among youth are gradually improving. Physical activity among youth is increasing. “Those are good things to see,” he said. Cigarette smoking among youth is at a record low. Overall substance abuse is down in kids. The numbers of youth trying alcohol and engaging in binge drinking are also down. Adolescent sexual activity is down. And bullying has dropped a bit. The one area seeing a troubling increase is in mental health. More youth responded that they have considered suicide, and experience regular sadness or hopelessness. “Mental health still seems to be declining,” Batey said. “It’s a trend that’s going in the wrong direction.” In the survey responses of parents with children ages birth to 5, a positive trend was seen in a majority of families reading to children every day in the past week. The biggest negative was a drop in mothers attempting breastfeeding. “That jumped off the page for me,” Batey said. “I think that’s huge.” But overall, Batey was happy about changes seen in younger respondents. “I’m very optimistic about the trends we’re seeing in our children…


Wood County residents urged to get up and get active

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County residents are being politely prodded to get up off their sedentary seats. The Wood County Health Department has launched a campaign encouraging local residents to get more exercise using free community parks and trails. Health surveys have shown that too many people are overweight, and too few are getting the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week. Only 28 percent of Wood County adults surveyed last year said they exercise five days or more per week. Ten percent said they did not have any physical activity in the past week. Inactivity and obesity are tied to many areas of a person’s health and can lead to a variety of serious diseases. And last year’s physical activity and nutrition survey showed that Wood County residents need to do better at both. “It was enough to give us some ideas of where we should prioritize,” said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator for the Wood County Health Department. “It’s pretty much common knowledge that lack of physical activity and obesity are big problems across the country,” Aspacher added. The survey conducted last year showed that not only were many people not getting enough exercise, but many also weren’t aware of local exercise options available to them. So health department officials decided to start a motivational campaign, encouraging local residents to use the exercise options already available throughout the county. “We have great parks. We want to promote what we already have,” Aspacher said. In addition to the county parks, nearly every community in Wood County also has its own park. “You can go to the park in Grand Rapids and see something completely different than you would see in the park in Bradner.” A new website, WoodCountyHealth.org/activity, lists parks and trails in different communities, as well as events such as 5Ks and fun runs, and links to recreation programs, fitness groups, SilverSneakers sites for seniors, and several links to cycling resources. “There is one place to go for the information,” Aspacher said of the website. “This might inspire someone to go to a park.” Having a goal in mind can create the motivation people need to stick with an exercise routine, but many people have a tough time getting started. Wood County Health Department will post encouraging messages, exercise tips and photos showing the diverse parks and recreation opportunities that Wood County…


Cocoon hotline number will change as of July 1

With the closure of The Link, the phone number to access Cocoon services 24/7 will be (419) 373-1730. This new number will take effect July 1, 2018. The Cocoon has partnered with The Link, a program of Harbor Behavioral Health, for the last 13 years to answer hotline calls from survivors of domestic and sexual violence.  These calls were then routed to Cocoon advocates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The new number will not affect services in any way. All callers seeking services will be immediately connected to an advocate. The Cocoon advocates will continue to provide the same excellent services to the Wood County community. The Cocoon provides safety, healing, and justice to survivors of sexual and domestic violence. In 2017, the organization responded to 5,739 service calls and provided more than 3,100 nights of emergency, safe housing.


Stop the Bleed aims to teach techniques to staunch blood loss from traumatic wounds

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Stop the Bleed started in the wake of tragedy. The trauma surgeon who treated the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings realized that some of them could have been saved if someone had staunched their bleeding. Stop the Bleed’s goal is to teach people a way to do just that the same way they are taught CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. It’s needed not just in the case of a mass shooting or bombing. Victims of car accidents, job injuries or household mishaps could have their lives saved if someone can stop them from losing blood. Nicole Knepper, who was at Bowling Green State University Friday to train campus police officers, said these techniques were used when her father-in-law was injured while cutting wood. “We’re just giving people the knowledge to act immediately to save someone’s life,” she said. “You never know when this would be needed.” Acting soon is essential, said Knepper, a training coordinator for Mercy Health. A person weighing 150 pounds has about five liters of blood. Losing 40 percent will cause the person to fade into unconsciousness. The two techniques to stop critical bleeding are applying a tourniquet and packing and compressing the wound. Stop the Bleed provides kits at their website (bleedingcontrol.org), but common objects at hand can be used. A t-shirt and a pencil can be used as a tourniquet. Even a dirty sock can pack a wound, Knepper said. Stopping bleeding will save the person’s life. You can’t give antibiotics to someone who is dead, she said. If possible though the first choice is a tourniquet. That marks a change in training. Knepper who has been a trauma nurse for 25 years said medical professionals were told never to use a tourniquet. The fear was that cutting off the flow of blood to a limb would result in the need to amputate the limb. But there have been no documented cases of amputation from tourniquets on for less than two hours, she said. In any event, she said, the approach is to save a life even if it means losing a limb. The tourniquet will hurt, a lot. Pain is not a reason for easing up or thinking it’s not on properly, she said. But tourniquets cannot be applied to some areas, the neck and groin. That’s when packing and compression are needed. Knepper demonstrated packing…


Researcher spells out threat of superbugs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Superbugs may sound like a new summer time horror movie, but the dangers they pose are real. This past semester Dr. Shannon Manning, from Michigan State University, presented “Superbugs! Antibiotic Resistance Matters,” the keynote address of the Ned Baker Public Health Symposium. The talk, despite its sensational title, was aimed at those in public health. The talk delved deeply into biological mechanisms as Manning explained the rapid evolution of pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics and other treatments. The use of antibiotics, she said, goes back to well before people knew what they were. They were present in ancient beer, an unpalatable brew akin to liquid bread dough. Egyptians used honey and lard to treat wounds because of the anti-microbial properties. But superbugs arose only after scientists understood these properties and created drugs. This launched an evolutionary war between the drugs meant to cure diseases and the pathogens that cause diseases. While the antibiotic kills most of the pathogens, a few cells immune to the antibiotic survive, and thrive, creating new strains immune to the antibiotic. That led to the emergence of superbugs. “They can cause high rates of morbidity and mortality in human populations and also are causing high rates of disease in animal populations,” Manning said “Some of these superbugs tend to be more virulent causing more severe infections.” That leads to high rates of death and long-lasting health problems, she said. Patients end up “sicker for very long period of times.” “We do have a set a resistant pathogens that cannot be killed by any of known drugs that we have,” Manning said. “Many of these pathogens and others have developed resistance to many types of antibiotics. These are increasing in number.” None of this should have been surprising. Alexander Fleming the scientist who first isolated penicillin warned of the drug’s of overuse, Manning said. Unheeded, his warning was proven true quickly. At first penicillin was considered a miracle drug. Staph aureus killed 70 percent of its victims before the drug was discovered. Those fatalities dropped dramatically once people started taking penicillin. That prompted increased use of penicillin. Nature reacted, and drug-resistant strains evolved. Death rates rose again. Hospitals are battlegrounds. They have many patients who already have compromised immune systems and are targets for these new drug-resistant pathogens. The war between drugs and pathogens was engaged with drug resistant strains…


BG site selected for medical marijuana dispensary

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A Bowling Green location has been selected by the state as a provisional medical marijuana dispensary. The former Glass City Credit Union Building, at 1155 N. Main St., will be able to provide medicinal marijuana under the name Glass City Alternatives. The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy today awarded 56 medical marijuana provisional dispensary licenses. A total of 376 applications had been received. A provisional license is a temporary license issued to an applicant for a medical marijuana dispensary license, authorizing them to begin establishing a dispensary. All provisional license holders have six months to demonstrate compliance with the dispensary operational requirements to obtain a certificate of operation. Once a dispensary is awarded a certificate of operation, it can begin to sell medical marijuana to Ohio patients and caregivers in accordance with Ohio laws and rules. The state had been divided into four quadrants for medical marijuana sales – with Northwest Ohio to have 10 dispensaries. The region was broken into districts, with Wood, Hancock and Henry counties being combined into one district to be allowed one dispensary. No applicants filed for locations in Hancock or Henry counties. So that left Wood County to host a dispensary. The three applications filed with the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy were for sites at: 106 E. Napoleon Road, Bowling Green, with the business name of Debbie’s Dispensary, filed by Sara Presler. 1155 N. Main St., Bowling Green, with the business name of Glass City Alternatives, filed by Mark Jacobs. 2701 Woodville Road, Northwood, with the business name of Serenity Dispensary, filed by Deitra Hickey. House Bill 523, the Ohio law that in 2016 legalized marijuana for medical use only, tasked the Ohio Board of Pharmacy with determining which locations should be approved as dispensaries. A total of potential 376 sites were submitted, though just 56 were approved, according to Grant Miller, spokesperson with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The law requires 500 feet between any marijuana business and a school, church, public library or public playground. “We have to make sure they are complying with the rule,” Miller said earlier this year. “It’s an in depth process. Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into the application.” All the applicants were required to show the sites had proper commercial zoning, and that the community had not enacted a moratorium on the sale of…


New dental site won’t turn away uninsured patients

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By the end of this year, people without dental insurance will have a place to turn for help in Wood County. “To be able to finally offer services is huge for us,” Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey said as he prepared for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new dental services expansion to Wood County Health Department’s Community Health Center. The dental clinic will have five exam chairs, offering services such as X-rays, minor surgeries and preventative care. Community health assessments have repeatedly shown unmet dental needs as a top health problem for local residents. The health department was able to secure nearly $900,000 from the federal government to cover the construction costs for the facility that extends off the east end of the health department at 1840 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. More than a decade ago, local officials who cared about public health and about children met at the county health department to discuss the lack of dental care for local children. At that point there was one dentist in the county who freely accepted Medicaid patients – Dr. Jack Whittaker. The problem wasn’t an easy fix with a clear culprit. Dentists are reimbursed at a lower rate by Medicaid than through private insurance. And the Medicaid patients often have significant dental needs because they have delayed treatment due to the expense. They often wait till the pain is unbearable, and the cost is escalated. Since then, the county offered a Band-Aid solution that has been a lifesaver to some residents. Once a month, the Smile Express parked its RV-size mobile dental unit outside the Wood County Health District to treat patients who otherwise would go without care. Though it made a difference in many lives, it was just scratching the surface of the unmet dental needs in the county. Every time the health district conducted an assessment of the county, the lack of dental services for low income residents ranked high on the list of needs. Wood County was not alone. In 2015, dental care was the top unmet health care need for nearly 157,400 children of all family incomes across the state, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Almost 486,000 children in the state lacked dental insurance, and nearly 340,000 had never been to a dentist. In Wood County that same year, 21 percent of children…


After split with UT, BGSU aims to expand its nursing program

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Like a cell that splits in order to reproduce, the nursing collaboration between Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo is coming apart. The goal is to graduate more nurses, said Interim Dean Sue Houston. The institutions announced this week the end of the collaboration which dates back to about 1972, Houston said. Originally BGSU’s partner was the Medical College of Ohio, before its merger with UT. It was UT, she said, that initiated the dissolution of the collaboration. “The University of Toledo approached us about their desire to be independent and pursue the nursing programs on their own,” Houston said. Once BGSU officials studied the options they realized it offered opportunities for BGSU as well. The separation has been “very agreeable” and “collaborative,” she said. There will be no change for either students already in the program or the class that enters in fall. Students who enter in fall, 2019 will be in the new program. Houston said the university now enrolls 100-120 students in a class. About 50 move into the clinical rotation. The culling of students after the second year is rigorous. All the pre-nursing students are ranked based on their performance in the first two years of pre-requisite courses and only the top students are accepted into the clinical rotation. Some are able to continue in a small collaboration with Mercy College. For some students “nursing may not be the major for them,” Houston said. “They don’t quite understand the science they need.” But “there are a many great students who might not quite have that GPA and might be great nurses, and it’s frustrating right now that we’re not able to meet the needs of those students. … It’s a very, very competitive process to get into the clinical rotation.” In some semesters the standard is higher than to get into medical school. By moving more pre-nursing students along to the clinical stage without lowering standards, “there’s great potential for this thing to grow larger.” (Two years ago, then Vice President for Academic Affairs John Fischer expressed concern about the impact of students taking College Credit Plus courses and not realizing how getting a low grade while still in high school could foreclose future options. Nursing was his prime example.) Graduating more nurses would address the growing demand for nurses. In making the announcement, the universities cited…


BGSU, UT to go separate ways with nursing programs

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS In order to meet the demand for more nurses in the region and across the country, The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University will pursue independent nursing programs to educate additional health care providers. UT and BGSU currently partner in a joint nursing consortium. Moving forward with independent programs will provide opportunities for both universities to focus on separate strategies to educate and grow the supply of nurses, which is critical to meeting the future healthcare needs of the region. All current BGSU nursing students and new students beginning their studies in Fall 2018 will continue with the consortium program through graduation and will not be impacted by the change. Under the existing agreement, about 50 BGSU pre-nursing students annually go on to complete their required nursing coursework and clinicals through the UT College of Nursing after two years of pre-nursing studies at BGSU. While the students take their classes at UT during their junior and senior years, they remain BGSU students and are awarded their bachelor’s degree by BGSU. “Health care is a rapidly changing industry and universities need to continue to adapt to the changing environment in order to provide the best education for future health care providers,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “The nursing profession is more critical than ever and this new organizational structure will allow both UT and BGSU to grow our programs to better meet the need for more high-quality nurses in Ohio and beyond.” The demand for nurses in Ohio and across the nation far exceeds the current supply. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nursing is among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2024. The nursing workforce is expected to grow by 16 percent to 3.2 million by 2024 with more than one million job openings for nurses due to growth and replacements. “We agree that the time is right to pursue new partnerships,” BGSU President Rodney Rogers said. “We recognize that there is growing demand for nurses throughout northwest Ohio. This provides both universities the opportunity to grow their respective programs.” UT and BGSU continue to be strong partners. Last year the universities announced a foreign language course exchange program. The universities also are partners in the Building Ohio’s Sustainable Energy Future (BOSEF) initiative, a joint program that encourages students to pursue research careers in renewable…