DANVERS — North Shore Community College has received the largest gift in the college's history, a $1.765 million donation that will be used to create a simulation health care center, the college announced Tuesday.
The gift came from Beverly residents Henry and Donna Bertolon and their children. Donna Bertolon graduated from North Shore Community College in 1972.
Karen Hynick, NSCC's vice president of academic affairs, said the donation will enable the school to expand its simulation labs and purchase more "high-fidelity" mannequins that are used by students to simulate treating patients. The college currently has six of them. They cost more than $100,000 each, Hynick said.
"The mannequins can do everything, from talking, bleeding to breathing, so they mimic the patient without actually being a patient," Hynick said. "We can videotape how our students react to a given situation and give them constructive feedback."
The college will create The Bertolon Simulation Health Care Center of Excellence in the Health Professions in the Berry building on its Danvers campus. The donation will also be used to improve the school's health care curriculum, train students on how to use electronic medical records, and provide professional development for teachers.
North Shore Community College has about 400 students enrolled in health care programs, including nursing, emergency response technician, respiratory therapy, surgical technology, medical assistant, substance addiction, and others.
The college said it has been relying more heavily on "simulation education" over the last decade because it has been getting harder to find enough clinical placements for students in health-related fields.
"In the next five years it will make a huge difference in the way we teach our students," Hynick said. "It definitely allows us to be on the cutting edge of innovation."
The Bertolons have donated to North Shore Community College in the past, including for the expansion of the Lynn campus, where the academic technology suite bears their name. The family has also contributed to Salem State University, where the school of business is named after them.
Donna Bertolon, who attended NSCC before going on to Northeastern University, said she and her husband believe in the community college system.
"My experience at the college was extremely positive," she said in a press release. "I had great professors and learned numerous practical skills that gave me a definite advantage in securing employment."
The college said it will launch the Bertolon Center this fall and will honor the Bertolon family in October.
NSCC President Patricia Gentile said the Bertolons' donation "will transform the academic experience and career training for NSCC students pursuing health care, human services and emergency response careers."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.