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Spring grad named Director of Nursing at El Paso Health Center

June 6, 2018

When Hollie Flesher returned to college after 17 years, she knew she had a lot of hard work ahead of her.

“It was scary to return to school,” Hollie said. “I will be 40 this year. I’d been out of school for a long time. I had to retrain myself how to study. But I was more mature this time than when I first went to college.”

Twenty-eight students completed the nursing program this May and received their Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN). Hollie Flesher was among that group and she barely had time to catch her breath before moving into the position of Director of Nursing at El Paso Health Care Center.

Hollie, like some others in this spring’s graduating Nursing cohort, is a practitioner seeking the career advancement she could only receive if she met the degree requirements that would allow her to take the state board exams to become a registered nurse (NCLEX-RN).

El Paso Health Care Center, where Hollie has been working for three years as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), is the only Long Term Care psychiatric facility in Central Illinois. To pursue the position of Director of Nursing, she needed to take another step in her education.

“The El Paso Health Care center serves a unique and very vulnerable population,” said Jennifer O’Connor, Director of Nursing Education. “Hollie has been an LPN for several years, and completing HCC’s program enabled her to take this big, serious job.”

Serving a wide variety of patients, the center takes referrals from across the state from locations stretching from Chicago to Cairo. Some patients receive treatment for a few weeks while others have required care at the facility for over a decade.

“Mental health is an underserved population. There is a lot of stigma involved and that troubles me because we all have mental health just as we all have physical health,” said Hollie. “I feel like I can make a difference in our patients’ lives.”

Despite her fears of returning to college, Hollie said she felt comfortable in a program that included students beginning nursing careers and healthcare professionals looking to take the next step.

“I’m grateful to Heartland and the staff. When I graduated I felt like I was ready to take on the role of being a Registered Nurse and supervisor,” Hollie said. “The faculty treats you as a professional. You learn how to behave professionally and how to carry yourself as a nurse. My life is forever better because of my experience at Heartland. I can’t sing the school’s praises enough.”

Written by: Steve Fast