Newly-established center to house school’s nursing program
Friends and faculty of Westmont University came together Friday evening to dedicate a newly-established center that will be the new home of Westmont Downtown/Grotenhuis Nursing Program. The center will serve as a hub for the university’s fledgling nursing program, and will also further integrate Westmont with the Santa Barbara community.
In addition to office space for faculty, conference rooms and classroom space, the building also features facilities for nursing students to engage in hands-on learning that will prepare them for future work in hospitals. The space is large enough to accommodate a cohort of 24 nursing students, with the program currently featuring a cohort of 20.
The building’s skills lab, for example, features multiple high-quality, lifelike mannequins from Lifecast Body Simulation arranged in a space that replicates a hospital. Here, the nursing students will be instructed in giving head-to-toe assessments, providing patient care such as bed baths and work with IV pumps, med dispensing units and tube feeding.
In the simulation lab, students will learn to perform patient assessments and respond to a variety of hospital situations including bleeding, seizing and even labor through the use of technology-enhanced mannequins. The mannequins also feature both scripted dialogue and the ability for instructors to speak through them to further enhance the hands-on element.
The new building and the university’s nursing program, which began in the spring of 2022 and is augmented by a partnership with Cottage Hospital, came together due to a convergence of several factors and individuals.
The considerations for a nursing program began when Steven Fellows, the Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer of Cottage Hospital, approached Westmont President Gayle D. Beebe to inquire about Westmont’s interest in starting such a program.
Mr. Beebe responded that he believed the university was at a “pivotal moment” in its history, and that it needed to begin considering projects that would benefit the community and increase its presence in downtown Santa Barbara.
The idea of a nursing program gained further momentum during the pandemic as the result of a conversation between the Westmont president and the recently-departed philanthropist, Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree. According to Mr. Beebe, Lady Ridley-Tree inquired as to what he was doing at Westmont, to which he responded by broaching the prospect of bringing a nursing program to the school.
She expressed interest in the project and later setup a lunch between herself, Mr. Bebee, and Dave and Anna Grotenhuis to further discuss the idea. From there, the years-long project to bring a nursing program to Westmont began in full; and with the help and support of many others, has culminated in the launching of this new center.
“Lady Ridley-Tree was the catalyst for Dave and I getting involved in this wonderful initiative,” Mrs. Grotenhuis said in a statement. “Leslie cared so deeply about Westmont, about Cottage, and was always looking for ways to strengthen our community. It was her creativity that captured our imagination and we’re so pleased to see this vision become a reality.”