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Local Church Helps Ensure Education Continues at Galen College of Nursing During Flooding

Associate Professor Buffy Simpson with nursing students

February 14, 2019 – Louisville, KY – Galen College of Nursing educates over 1,400 nursing students at its Zorn and River Road campuses.  When the Ohio River hits 27 feet, however, its geography, along with rising waters, affect campus access.

So, what do they do to keep students from missing crucial class time?  They rely on the kindness of the community and the amazing faculty, staff, and students willing to pick up and move operations to make sure that learning continues.

For the second year in a row, Galen has been forced to pack up its classes and operations, and relocate. “We planned for this,” said Kathy Dwyer, Senior Director of College Operations at Galen.  “We went through this last year and had gone through similar events in the past, so we were familiar with watching the river gauges and knowing at exactly what stage to initiate contingency plans.”

Galen students arrived at the Northeast Christian Church, starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, February 13, and were directed by staff and faculty to their temporary classrooms at the church. Twenty-six classrooms have been set up in the church.  Staff have also been set up so that operations continue as normal. “Our admissions teams are still meeting with prospective students wishing to get started in our next term; financial aid and registrars are still working with enrolling students. Even employees who don’t work directly with students are here wanting to help, just to support their co-workers and our students.  It’s pretty amazing to see,” said Dwyer.

According to the National Weather Service, the Ohio River was nearing 28 feet as of noon Wednesday.  But, Galen faculty and staff knew exactly what to do, said Dr. Connie Cooper, Dean of Louisville and Hazard, Kentucky, campuses.

“The second time around is easier, and this church and its members are so welcoming,” Cooper said. “We couldn’t have done this without Northeast, and we can’t thank them enough. The students have been very complimentary, and we provide lunches, snacks, and drinks every day. It has been very smooth.”

Northeast’s receptionist Beverly Gillespie might be considered a life preserver for Galen. After she was contacted by a Galen employee and fellow church member who needed her assistance during last year’s flooding, she has continued to be instrumental in working with the operations team and church leadership to accommodate Galen’s staff, faculty, and students. Over the years, Northeast also has been the site for several of the school’s graduations. Gillespie said the church officials were more than happy to open its doors to be Galen’s temporary home again.

“We have a really good team here. Our motto here at Northeast Christian Church is ‘Love the Ville’ and this is our opportunity,” she said. “God has blessed us with a nice campus, and it’s our desire to share it with the community.”

Galen students said their studies have not missed a beat, and the school has helped them to make a smooth transition despite the flooding. LPN student Liz Wolz was among the students who were in the building last year when they had to vacate and was pleased with the communication efforts to direct students to the “quiet and laid-back” church.

“They have been very thorough with communication,” she said. “I think I got two phone calls, three text messages, and an email. If you got here at the wrong time, it’s your fault,” she said laughing. “They have communicated with us very well.”

Clinical Learning Lab Coordinator Dashanda Stanton said the temporary setting has been good for Galen’s students.  “In nursing, not every day is going to be textbook,” she said. “As a nurse, you have to be prepared for different scenarios whether it’s who you are working with or your environment. It’s good for them to see the bigger picture.”

Founded 30 years ago, Galen College of Nursing is one of the largest private nursing schools in the United States. With a focus solely on nursing education, the College offers practical/vocational nursing (PN/VN), associate and baccalaureate degree nursing programs to over 5,000 students on its campuses in Louisville and Hazard, Ky., San Antonio, Texas, Tampa Bay, Fla., Cincinnati, Ohio, and Online. Galen is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. For more information about Galen College of Nursing, visit


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