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Tom and Sue Strange 

When Tom and Sue Strange, of Loogootee, established an endowment fund with the Martin County Community Foundation in 1999, it served two purposes. The first purpose was to provide a legacy for their daughter Terri Sullivan Callaway, who passed away in 1998. The second purpose was to address what they see as a looming issue for us all, namely, a shortage of nurses to care for the sick and elderly. The endowment fund the Strange’s established provides financial support to a student entering the nursing field. Their hope is that with this additional incentive, more young people will enter the nursing field.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “the United States is in the midst of a nursing shortage that is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows.”  In an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on June 14, 2000 , Dr. Peter Buerhaus and colleagues reported that the U.S. would experience a 20% shortage in the number of nurses needed in our nation's health care system by the year 2020. This translates into a shortage of more than 400,000 RNs nationwide.  But the shortage has already begun.  According to American Hospital Association's June 2001 TrendWatch, 126,000 nurses are needed now to fill vacancies at our nation's hospitals.  Today, fully 75% of all hospital vacancies are for nurses.  There are nursing positions going unfilled all across the health care spectrum, in doctor’s offices, nursing homes and in-home health care services, as well as hospitals.

As a result of the shortage, those nurses who are providing care to patients are working longer hours under heavier workloads.  Sue Strange herself worked for many years as a nurse and feels a real responsibility to make this looming crisis better understood and rectified.  “Nursing is a very rewarding profession,” she says.  “To help and care for people when they’re not well . . . it takes skill, and it gives you a good feeling, that you can help them and help the community.”  Sue notes that nursing was not a high-paying field when she entered it some years ago, but “the pay has gone up over the years to where it should satisfy young jobseekers needing a good income.”

Since the inception of the Terri Callaway Scholarship Fund in 1998, six students from Loogootee High School have received financial assistance from this fund to enter the field of nursing. Another student will be chosen this spring. A scholarship endowment fund of this type provides part of a long-term solution to the nursing shortage that affects us all. This is an excellent example of local individuals recognizing a need in the community and taking proactive steps to correct that need, in a very personal and effective manner.

Thank you Tom and Sue for your giving hearts.

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