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University of Florida RN alumna gives gift that will keep giving

Monday March 11, 2013
UF College of Nursing alumna Brenda Barton-Wheaton (center) and her husband Richard Wheaton (left) gave a $3 million gift to the college to support TBI and PTSD patients and their families. They are pictured with Kathleen Ann Long, RN, dean of the UF College of Nursing.
UF College of Nursing alumna Brenda Barton-Wheaton (center) and her husband Richard Wheaton (left) gave a $3 million gift to the college to support TBI and PTSD patients and their families. They are pictured with Kathleen Ann Long, RN, dean of the UF College of Nursing.
(Photos courtesy of the University of Florida)
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College of Nursing student Amber Duren and Clinical Assistant Professor Karen Reed (in forefront) talk with a TBI patient and his wife at Shands Rehab hospital.
The University of Florida College of Nursing received a $3 million alumni gift, which will fund education and support for patients and families dealing with mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Brenda Barton-Wheaton, a UF BSN (1971) and MSN (1973) graduate, and her husband Richard Wheaton, a UF agriculture graduate, wanted to give back to their alma mater in a way that would be meaningful both for the university and for patient care. The commitment is the single largest gift in the college’s history, according to a news release.

Special efforts should be made to ensure that all nurses know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mild to moderate TBI, PTSD and related conditions, College of Nursing Dean Karen Ann Long, RN, PhD, said in the release. The gift will establish an endowment to fund education and research activities and will provide scholarships and stipends for students and faculty members.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually and many go undiagnosed.

"Our vision for this gift is to support talented individuals in their efforts to obtain an education and conduct research to discover optimal ways to provide excellent care for individuals with mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder and their families," Barton-Wheaton said in the release. "We hope that education and research leads to better care for patients and that their families are better educated regarding these conditions and more able to advocate for optimal care."

According to the release, the UF College of Nursing was one of the first four universities in the country to receive a five-year VA Nursing Academy grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2012, UF also committed to educating America’s future nurses caring for veterans and their families facing TBI, PTSD and depression, as part of the first lady Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces Initiative.

"The University of Florida and the College of Nursing are equipped with the talent, facilities and resources to strengthen education, conduct research and translate findings into practice so that we can better serve those with TBI, PTSD and related conditions," Long said in the release. "Our connections with other colleges, centers and institutes at UF, and our rich clinical resources will facilitate our efforts to achieve all that the Wheatons hope this gift will accomplish."


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