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A Publication of WTVP

There's a conventional business saying today: "Think globally, act locally." For the community college, sometimes it's more important that we think locally and act locally. Thinking and acting locally is one of the ways we create partnerships in our community that meet the needs of those we serve in our district. A good example of how thinking and acting locally has paid off over the past 20 years is the ICC respiratory therapy program.

In 1980, an advisory committee of therapists, physicians, and administrators from OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Proctor Hospital, and Methodist Medical Center met with administrators from Illinois Central College. After discussion and a report from a consultant, ICC and OSF Saint Francis entered into a joint venture to establish a respiratory therapy program in June 1984. The first class in the program was offered in August 1984.

The two groups worked together to make the respiratory therapy program a success. OSF Saint Francis provided space for an equipped classroom and laboratory located at the medical center and absorbed the cost of one of the two respiratory therapy faculty members, the clinical coordinator, and the laboratory materials and supplies. ICC provided the salary and benefits for another faculty member and the program director.

The joint venture has had terrific outcomes. More than 300 students have graduated from the respiratory therapist program. One hundred percent of the graduates have found jobs in their field, and a majority of graduates work in the Peoria area. But even with the success of this program, a shortage of respiratory therapists remains. The shortage isn't restricted to the Peoria area, but extends regionally and nationally.

Yet in spite of the fact that graduates of the program find good paying jobs-usually starting their careers at $17 an hour-the challenge of developing new respiratory therapists remains. OSF Saint Francis found a way to help. It established a respiratory therapy scholarship program. This scholarship covers the cost of all tuition and books at ICC. In addition, the scholarship provides a cost-of-living allowance to students. In return, the student agrees to work part-time at OSF Saint Francis while in school. The idea is to encourage the student to stay in the area and help meet local health care needs. The scholarship has helped maintain maximum enrollments at ICC in the respiratory therapy program.

This partnership is one of the many collaborative efforts in which ICC participates with local businesses and organizations. The ability of both OSF Saint Francis and the college to "look in their own back yard" for a solution to the health care needs of central Illinois resulted in a partnership that's served our community well for 20 years. While there's no doubt our world demands a global perspective, the respiratory therapy program is one strong example of how thinking and acting locally can create outstanding solutions to community needs through collaborations like this one. And sometimes, in the words of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, "There's no place like home" for the right answer to a tough problem. IBI

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