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Valley Springs might get home nurses
By By Alica P. Thiele
Challenger reporter

March 06. 2013 6:00AM
A nursing program in Valley Springs could be a big help to the city where 8 percent of the population is 65 years or older, a former resident thinks.

Deb Letcher, who grew up in Valley Springs, now is clinical academy education manager for the Center for Learning and Innovation at Sanford Health. She thought of her hometown when applying for a federal grant to bring nursing services to rural communities to serve senior citizens.

“We’ve selected an array of clinical sites, and Valley was one of them,” Letcher said.

“Valley brings a different perspective in needs. It represents a small community next to an urban setting, but far enough away that there are challenges to being connected to health care services.”

The Valley Springs City Commission recently signaled its approval for the proposed program by writing a letter of support to include in the grant application.

“Valley Springs is an older community, so therefore we have a lot of senior citizens,” Commissioner Tami Jansma said. “We don’t have a lot of necessities for them a lot of times. We don’t have clinics in our town (so) it’s nice if they (nurses) can just come to us.”

The details aren’t settled, but if the grant is approved, Valley Springs Finance Officer Sandy Severtson said nurses could come to town to take vital signs, dress wounds and the like.

“It sounds like a win-win thing,” she said.

Longtime Valley Springs resident Ardell Johnson is now retired but spent her career as a nurse. She said that home-care programs, similar to the one for which Letcher is applying, are a benefit. “Anything to keep people in their homes and out of nursing homes,” she said, “would be a big help for them.”

About the federal grant, Johnson said Letcher “should go for it.”

“Anything that helps make people healthier, I’m for,” Johnson said.

Letcher said she will know in July whether Sanford gets the grant, which would be good for three years.

And in addition to helping Medicare-age patients, and the elderly, the program would help future nurses as well.

“(The program) would involve nursing students working alongside registered nurses and advance practice nurses,” Letcher said. “That’s the idea behind the grant application.

“It involves nurses with an emphasis on leadership and provides mentorship for nursing students with an innovative spin,” Letcher said.

Even though she graduated from Brandon Valley High School back in the 1970s, Letcher said she still feels connected to the community of Valley Springs. “If we’re funded, I think this could potentially make a difference with the city,” she said.
Valley Springs numbers by age
0-4 years: 58 (7.64 percent)

5-17: 156 (20.55 percent)

18-64: 484 (63.77 percent)

65+: 61 (8.04 percent)

Male: 399 (52.57 percent)

Female: 360 (47.43 percent)

Total population: 759

Commissioner Tami Jansma

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