As Mary Lanning Healthcare begins construction of a major addition to its Medical Services Building, Hastings College and the Bryan College of Health Sciences are announcing major progress in fundraising for the nursing education facility they will locate in some of the new space.

In a news release Thursday, officials of the two colleges reported they have raised $2.5 million of the $3.1 million needed to build out and equip a portion of the expanded building’s third floor.

That space — 17,000 square feet — will house the Hastings location for Bryan’s bachelor of science in nursing program.

In late 2020, the Lincoln-based Bryan College forged an agreement with Hastings College and Mary Lanning whereunder Bryan will offer nursing education in Hastings, replicating the successful program on its Lincoln campus.

Bryan students who opt to study in Hastings will take their first year of science and general education classes at Hastings College. They will be able to live on campus and be part of the Hastings College community, eligible to participate in activities and organizations there.

Beginning with their sophomore year, the students will take nursing courses taught by Bryan faculty in the education center at Mary Lanning.

Officials broke ground Monday for the building project, which is expected to be complete in about 18 months.

Meanwhile, recruiting for Bryan’s Hastings program began in late 2020 after plans for the program received final approval. Two students currently are enrolled, but the goal is to eventually sign 30 students per class.

Rich Lloyd is executive president of Hastings College and president of the Bryan college. A feasibility study for the new nursing program was announced when Lloyd, who already had the Bryan post, added the HC assignment in September 2020.

“This collaboration provides important benefits for all three partners,” Lloyd said. “While Bryan Health and Mary Lanning Healthcare will benefit from first access to well-trained nursing graduates, Hastings College will, when the program is at full capacity, add 120 students to its residence halls and classrooms. We’ll also boost the economic vitality of this region by helping prepare students for high-wage, high-demand jobs.”

Until fall 2020, Creighton University of Omaha maintained a nursing education campus at Mary Lanning. The Creighton campus now has been relocated to CHI Health St. Francis in Grand Island — a sister hospital to the Creighton University Medical Center, which also is operated by Catholic Health Initiatives. (Hastings College continues to partner with Creighton in providing that program.)

Meanwhile, both Mary Lanning and Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln have a vested interest in building up the health care workforce in south central Nebraska. Both organizations have an ownership stake in the new Grand Island Regional Medical Center.

In Thursday’s news release, Hastings College and the Bryan college said fundraising for the Mary Lanning nursing education center began in late 2020, and that the $2.5 million raised so far has come from sources including foundations, bequests, and gifts from individual donors.

“This is the most innovative and collaborative partnership Hastings College has developed in more than 10 years, and we are hopeful that friends in the community can provide the final dollars to help us reach our goal,” said Gary Freeman, executive director of the Hastings College Foundation. “After the nursing facilities are complete, we plan to fine-tune and replicate this academic partnership for other workforce initiatives.”

The faculty and administrative suite in the nursing center’s west wing will be named for Leota Rolls, a 1965 Hastings College graduate who served 47 years as a nurse, nursing educator and senior vice president at Mary Lanning.

The east wing will be named the Tim and Linda Daugherty Educational Center for Health Professions in memory of Tim, a 1970 HC graduate and longtime member of the college’s Board of Trustees who died in 2020; and in honor of Linda, a Bryan nursing graduate who lives in Omaha.

“We are honored to recognize three people who have given back to Hastings College and this community in such extraordinary ways,” Freeman said.

Bryan’s BSN program is four years in duration and fully accredited. One hundred percent of the graduates from the Lincoln campus who are seeking nursing positions find jobs within four months of graduation, the colleges said in their news release.

Graduates of Bryan’s BSN program in 2020 achieved a 99% first-time pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination, compared to 87% of first-time test takers nationally.

Students in the Hastings nursing program will complete more than 1,230 hours of clinical experiences — the highest number of any BSN program in Nebraska — with priority placements at Mary Lanning and the new Grand Island hospital.

The 2020 report of the Nebraska Center for Nursing predicts that by 2025 the need for nurses in the state’s Central Economic Region, which includes Hastings, will grow by at least 20% and the state’s overall nursing shortage will increase by nearly 30%.

Chief Construction of Grand Island is general contractor for expansion of the Medical Services Building, which will just more than double the structure’s floor space — currently 63,957 square feet. The project price tag is $22 million.

The structure, which is east of the main hospital building, will be renamed the Medical Office Building once construction is complete.