HEALTHCARE SPOTLIGHT: Health First Foundation Awards Over $100,000 In Nursing Scholarships
By Space Coast Daily // August 1, 2022
The Health First Foundation continually invests in people and technology
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BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Over 40 clinicians – from paramedics to future nurse practitioners – each received $2,500 awards to further their education in service of the Brevard community.
Does it seem like good investments are hard to come by in this financial market? Professionals can never go wrong investing in themselves, though – especially with their employer’s help.
The Health First Foundation continually invests in people and technology throughout the Health First system in order to help deliver the very best treatments and services to Brevard County.
Last month, it celebrated 44 Health First clinicians who are furthering their education and raising the bar for Health First customers at its annual Nursing Scholarship Breakfast at the Suntree Country Club.
The number of scholarships and total award jumped 35% in a year.
One of the recipients is Jeremiah Palmer, a paramedic in the Palm Bay Hospital Emergency Department who is taking advantage of the nursing “bridge” program at Eastern Florida State College.
It offers existing healthcare professionals like paramedics, respiratory therapists or LPNs the education they need to be Registered Nurses.
“As a paramedic, I work within a limited scope of practice,” he says. “Becoming an RN will allow me to provide a higher level of care for my patients and improve the experience they have here at Health First.”
But Palmer, 26, just bought a house and learned he has a baby on the way. The scholarship, he says, “means a little more now.”
“Sometimes people get a little bit jaded toward their employer, but winning this really does make you feel like Health First cares about you. To help you as much as they do with this scholarship, they really do care about your dreams.”
Some of the nursing scholarship winners, such as Gabrielle Bucknor, have their eyes set on the highest possible achievement – a terminal degree. In her case, it’s a doctorate in nursing practice, family practitioner. Others are first-generation degree holders.
“No one in my family has any college background or been able to pursue a career because most of them did not finish school,” said Kimberly Ordonez, a nurse tech in the medical intensive care unit (MICU) at Holmes Regional.
“I have always been motivated to make something of myself and follow my inner passion of becoming a nurse. I will always ensure that I advocate for the patients I care for and prioritize their well-being.”
For Shane Welsh, a cardiovascular RN at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center, pursuing his education and providing greater care for his patients isn’t limited by his energy – only his resources.
“My program of study includes advanced courses in pharmacology and assessment that my associate-level nursing education did not cover, and I couldn’t be more excited, but I am concerned about the financial burden. I have prior student loans,” he said.
“This burden is something that the Health First Foundation scholarship will largely or completely remove.”
In total, the Foundation has awarded 263 scholarships totaling more than $700,000.
“These scholarships are funded by our community,” said Chris Kern, Vice President, Foundation and Community Benefit, who helps administer the scholarship selection and awards.
“They’re from grateful patients here who establish named endowments or leave gifts in their will or trust for education. They’re from the clinicians themselves who give through the Associate Month of Giving each year. So, when we say ‘Wellness Begins With We,’ this is what we mean.”
Funds for the 2022 round of nursing scholarships were generously provided through gifts to the Health First Foundation with special recognition to the following:
■ The Mike Means Larry Garrison Endowment for Nursing Excellence
■ The Igo Endowment Fund
■ The Allen and Sandra Henry Endowment for Nursing Excellence
■ Brevard Indo-American Medical and Dental Association (BIMDA)
■ The Maxx W. Kessel Foundation, and
■ Our own Health First Associates through the Associate Month of Giving
The scholarships are just one way Health First supports the continuing education of its staff. The company offers tuition reimbursement up to $5,000 annually to all full-time associates pursuing advanced degrees in nursing, and $3,000 for Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees. (Part-time associates are allotted half these amounts.)
“At Health First, we aim to be elite healthcare and wellness service providers. That starts with an investment. Our associates are our service leaders. Their education and training is how we prepare for excellence,” said Cheyana Fischer, Chief Nursing Officer, Health First.
To support the Health First Nursing Scholarship program or to learn more about Nursing Endowments, please call Jeanene Donilon at Health First Foundation at 321.434.7386.
For those interested in a career in Health First nursing, please visit Careers.HF.org.
NURSING SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS:
■ Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital: Barbara White, Elizabeth Oliver, Theresa Miles, Rhonda Niemesz, Holly Zorn, Leslie Bailey, Shelby Bickhardt
■ Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center: Anthony Rodriguez, Shane Welsh, Natasha Forde, Kevin Schwind, Michael Alvarez, Penny Brown, Evelyn Gammage, Danielle Malico, Leslie Robertson, Pascalle Colquhoun, Kimberly Ordonez, Grace Troy, Natasha Charles, Jill Morgan, Rosalee Viers, Rachel Adams, Gabrielle Bucknor
■ Health First’s Palm Bay Hospital: Peter Jimenez, Theresa Bradley, Terri Harasen, Samantha Havlin, Jack Sanders, Jeremiah Palmer, Jessica Forde, Samantha Riesen, Brianna Almanzar
■ Health First’s Viera Hospital: Erik Swanson, Carly Mace, Alyssa Cary
■ Health First Medical Group: Rebecca Pruitt, Rosemary Richer, Kelly Graham, Vanessa Torrey, Toni Acosta
■ Health First Home Care: Raina Benedith, AnneMarie Lake,
■ Health First Health Plans: Angie Ritter, Ellen Ninesling
Visit HF.org/news_and_events to find out what’s happening at Health First.