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Donation will help St. John Fisher train nurses to care for people with developmental disabilities

St. John Fisher University Wegmans School of Nursing
St. John Fisher University
St. John Fisher University Wegmans School of Nursing

St. John Fisher University’s Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing received a $5 million donation just in time for its fifth-year anniversary. The monetary gift from B. Thomas Golisano and the Golisano Foundation will support the mission and continued growth of the institute.

“Our strategy at the institute is really around educating nurses at the pre- and post-licensure level, such that we can improve the care delivery and the health care experience for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Dr. Holly Brown, executive director for the institute.

The institute, which is part of Fisher’s Wegmans School of Nursing, was initially funded by Golisano and the Foundation. In a news release, Erica Dayton, executive director of the Golisano Foundation, applauded the university for its commitment to “preparing the next generation of nurses and thought leaders with field-specific skills and knowledge.”

Intellectual disability is the most common developmental disability in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 6.5 million people are reported to have intellectual disabilities. However, one of the barriers these individuals face is finding “appropriately trained and willing healthcare providers.”

Representatives from the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing said that it’s critical for nurses, as the largest subdivision of the health care profession, to attain the knowledge and skill to appropriately serve that population.

“By increasing health care professionals' knowledge, skills, and competencies — in particular nurses — we will help to provide some equity around the health care experience,” Brown said.

The donation announced Monday, Brown said, will enable the program to expand its reach. It’ll help the institute work with other nursing schools on their curriculums, develop and test continuing education programs for hospitals, and further develop the international online fellowship program.

“My wish is that every single nurse in the United States has the knowledge, competency skills and confidence to effectively deliver care to people with intellectual developmental disabilities.”

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.  

Racquel Stephen is a health and environment reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.