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Simmons match making a difference

PARK HILLS — Dr. N. Gayle Simmons and his late wife, Rowena, both graduates from Mineral Area College’s predecessor, Flat River Junior College, were longtime educators who worked for many years to inspire others to join in their support of quality, affordable education.

This month, MAC Foundation wraps up the sixth year of the Simmons Match Campaign, which kicked off late in the summer and lasts until Oct. 31.

Dr. Simmons will be matching all eligible donations by 50 percent until matching funds expire. In addition, the donations will receive a $3-$1 match from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), which provides a 600 percent increase to each donation.

Employers and individuals may contribute online at, contact Assistant to the President Kevin Thurman at 573-518-2261 or mail it to Mineral Area College Foundation, P.O. Box 1000, Park Hills, MO 63601.

Thurman said the fund-raising efforts are not only a testament of one dedicated to education, but also a tribute to honor Rowena’s legacy. The Simmons Match campaign is a continued venture of the couple’s passion to provide transforming education for students and advancing the mission of their alma mater.

“The impact of the Simmons Match campaign is evident in many of the educational programs offered to MAC students,” Thurman said. “The MAC nursing programs have proven to graduate competent and clinically adept heath care providers. In the ever-changing health care environment, there is an on-going need for programs to remain abreast of technological advancements in the medical field. Funds generated through the Simmons Match campaign have been an integral part of ensuring MAC nursing students are receiving the most up-to-date instruction.”

Aside from the Nursing, Paramedic, and Law Enforcement programs, business, agriculture, and cultural arts are also enriched by funds supported through the Simmons Match initiative.

Teri Douglas, director of Allied Health at MAC, said a lengthy list of Simmons Match funds have enhanced the nursing program, such as an access model, which allows students to practice proper techniques and demonstrate competency in caring for patients with subclavian catheters and PORT-A-CATH implanted access systems.

Other simulation equipment purchased through the Simmons funds includes a patient manikin, a lifelike simulator that lets students practice fundamental and advanced skills including catheterization, NG Tube placement, colostomy care and irrigations, tracheostomy and chest tube care and IVs. Students in the paramedic program have also benefitted through the purchase of CPR manikins, diagnostic sets and injection simulators, among other equipment and software.

MAC’s Law Enforcement Academy has also benefitted from the fund-raising campaign, with the purchase of a driver training simulator. Mark Potratz, Department of Public Safety and Campus Security director, said enhanced training filters into the community.

“Over the last 10 years in the United States, nearly 35 percent of all police officers killed in the line of duty died from causes related to motor vehicle operations,” Potratz said. “This fact alone places tremendous emphasis on maximizing the quality of training law enforcement officers received involving all aspects of emergency vehicle operations. The addition of the FAAC driver training simulator not only provides a new and critical capability for the law enforcement academy at Mineral Area College but also enhances the academy’s ability to provide full response training to include the incorporated use of the firearms training simulator.”

Potratz said the additional training equipment overlaps into other programs. “It also presents an opportunity to expand the training of the EMT and paramedic programs, as the driver training simulator also has the capability to train emergency medical responders in the operation of their emergency vehicles,” he said. “For first responders such as these, saving lives is a critical goal of the training these students receive, and the addition of a driver training simulator directly translates into life-saving skills for the first responder and the public that they serve.”

MAC Nursing students Hunter Belfield, Brittany Wanner, Courtney Ball, Wesley Bell, and Norie Doromal pose with a patient manikin which is part of the equipment purchased with the help of the Simmons Match.

MAC Nursing students Hunter Belfield, Brittany Wanner, Courtney Ball, Wesley Bell, and Norie Doromal pose with a patient manikin which is part of the equipment purchased with the help of the Simmons Match.

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