The History of Jefferson College of Health Sciences

The History of Jefferson College of Health Sciences

Dr. Hugh TroutJefferson College of Health Sciences traces its history to 1914, when the Jefferson Hospital School of Nursing was founded by Dr. Hugh Trout Sr., an early pioneer of healthcare in the Roanoke Valley. Dr. Trout obtained his M.D. degree from the University of Virginia in 1902. After completing his surgical residency at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Trout relocated to Southwest Virginia. In 1907, he founded a small, 40-bed hospital, which was named Jefferson Hospital in honor and memory of Thomas Jefferson. 

Dr. Trout soon found that the need for adequately trained nurses in the area far surpassed those available. In an effort to alleviate the shortage, he established the Jefferson Hospital School of Nursing. The school opened its doors in 1914, with an initial class of six students. All six completed the 33-month training program and graduated in 1917. A self-study following the first graduation concluded that the school exceeded the Standard Curriculum for Schools of Nursing, published by the National League for Nursing Education in 1917. The school went on to gain approval by the American College of Surgeons and the American Medical Association in 1923. The American Hospital Association recognized the school in 1926.

Around the same time as the development of Jefferson Hospital, Dr. James Newton Lewis and Dr. Sparrell Simmons Gale were initiating their own vision of healthcare for the Roanoke Valley. In 1909, they founded Lewis-Gale Hospital in Downtown Roanoke, and in 1911, the Lewis-Gale School of Nursing was born. The two schools operated independently of each other for many years. Between 1914 and 1965, Jefferson Hospital School of Nursing alone trained 658 new nurses, most of whom stayed within the community upon graduation. 

During Jefferson Hospital's first 50 years, it was expanded three times and grew to a 151-bed facility. In 1953Jefferson Hsopital, Jefferson Hospital hired a 26-year old administrator named William Reid. He soon became aware of the booming population and the rising costs of health care in Southwest Virginia. The population of Roanoke had rapidly expanded beyond the capabilities of the Jefferson Hospital facility. In 1960, under his direction, a new hospital facility was commissioned. The project was truly reliant on the community, as citizens donated $3.3 million toward construction costs. The new facility officially opened on August 27, 1967, when 10,000 people toured the Community Hospital of Roanoke Valley. 

The formation of the Community Hospital of Roanoke Valley School of Nursing began in 1965, when the Lewis-Gale School of Nursing and the Jefferson Hospital School of Nursing combined under the direction of the new hospital. As Director of Nursing, Lavina Duncan, RN, formerly of Lewis-Gale, guided the school. William Reid served as administrator. The Community Hospital of Roanoke Valley School of Nursing had an inaugural class of 50 students, and in 1968 graduated its first class of 29 new nurses. At the time, neither Lewis-Gale nor Community Hospital had facilities to house the School of Nursing. Therefore the hospital leased six floors of the Carlton Terrace Building (now the Reid Center) for use by the school.

The school operated in this fashion for approximately fifteen years. Then in 1980, a task force investigated the possibility of establishing a hospital-based college that would grant 2-year degrees in nursing and allied health. In 1981 the Community Hospital Board of Trustees made a commitment to such a school, and in 1982 the Community Hospital of Roanoke Valley College of Health Sciences was established. The College of Health Sciences was the first hospital based college in Virginia. In addition, Community Hospital was one of only seven in the nation to have its College of Health Sciences accredited by the Commission for Higher Education. Dr. Jerome Cohen, who helped establish the college and was serving as Educational Director of the hospital, was named its first Dean on August 23, 1982. Dr. Cohen came to Roanoke after serving as an administrator and Associate Professor in the Connecticut community college system.

In 1986, the College obtained accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to grant degrees at the Associate Level. In 1989 the College named its first President, Dr. Harry C. Nickens. Dr. Nickens was very active in the local community and had been a leader in Roanoke for over 20 years. He directed the College through the addition of several programs and to a record enrollment of 615 students in 1998. He continued to lead the College until 2001, when he left to become president of the College's foundation. In 1992, William Reid, director of Community Hospital, announced his retirement. In appreciation for his contributions to the College and Hospital system, the Carlton Terrace Building was renamed the Reid Center. William Reid remains an active member of the College Board of Directors to this day.
The College continued to expand in 1995, when it was accredited by SACS at the Baccalaureate degree level. In 1999, the College admitted its first international students, showing growth on a global scale. In 2000, the reaffirmation site visit by SACS was completed, rewarding the College with long-term accreditation.

In October 2003, the College officially became Jefferson College of Health Sciences, recognizing both its past and future in the Roanoke Valley. The name change was due, in part, to the fact that the Community Hospital of Roanoke Valley no longer existed, having changed its name to Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital. The new name was selected in honor of the history of the College.

In 2005, the College was granted Carnegie Level III status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which gives Jefferson College approval to offer graduate programs. The first group of master's of science in nursing students graduated in May, 2007. Two more graduate programs, the master of science in physician assistant and the master of science in occupational therapy, open in Fall 2008.

In 2010, Dr. Carol Seavor retires and is succeeded by Dr. Nathaniel Bishop. Dr. Bishop, who previously served as the Vice President of Facility and Guest Services at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, initially serves as Interim President of Jefferson College of Health Sciences, but is formally Inaugurated in September 2011. 
One of Dr. Bishop's first achievements is to successfully complete the move of the College from the Reid Center into newly renovated space in Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital (CRCH).

As the fall 2010 semester begins, Jefferson College begins using classroom, lab and office space at CRCH on floors 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10. The new state-of-the-art spaces allow the College to continue educating our students in realistic clinical environments that prepare them for the healthcare environment like no other institution of higher education in the area.

The Reid Center, which had been home to the College since its accreditation in 1982, is demolished in 2011. 
Jefferson College kicked off 2011 by announcing that the College had been awarded reaccreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) through 2020.
Also in 2011, Jefferson College began collaborations with fellow institutions of higher education to better educate the healthcare leaders of tomorrow, including a comprehensive program of Interprofessional Education with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute (VTCRI) and Radford University, who relocated their Doctorate in Physical Therapy Program to the Jefferson College campus at CRCH.

Jefferson College also continued to expand its presence in downtown Roanoke in 2011, partnering with developer Ed Walker to house over 100 resident students at the newly renovated Patrick Henry Building, just a few blocks from the College's campus at CRCH.
In 2012, we celebrate our 30th anniversary as a degree granting institution and nearly a century in healthcare education.
The mission and vision of the College are grounded in its rich history. We are committed to providing competent and caring health care professionals who make a difference not only in Southwest Virginia, but across the country as well.