MOUNT VERNON — On Thursday, September 23, 2021, Brewton-Parker College (BPC) dedicated the Letton Nursing Skills Lab in memory of Dr. Alva Hamblin “Hamby” Letton. The funds were received through a grant awarded to BPC by the Georgia Baptist Foundation. Dr. Letton was a distinguished surgical oncologist that wanted to make a lasting impact on Christian healthcare in Georgia.
Dr. Letton left a true legacy with his involvement in the medical world. Dr. Letton was a Navy veteran and served during World War II. In the late 1940s, he was active with the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Georgia Division. Dr. Letton served as president of the American Cancer Society in 1971. Dr. Letton’s work pioneered early detection of cancer. He has been described as an advocate for data and research (related to cancer). He understood that it would have no impact if that knowledge is not translated into treatment, practiced, and disseminated in a manner that allows medical professionals and patients to make sound decisions. Dr. Letton was 93 when he passed away in 2010.
Dedication speakers included Dr. Steven Echols, BPC President, Debbi Bryarly, BPC Director of Nursing, and Dr. Johnathan W. Gray, Georgia Baptist Foundation President.
BPC Director of Nursing Debbi Bryarly stated, “The Letton Nursing Skills Lab is an integral part of nursing education at Brewton-Parker College.” The lab will be a safe environment for students to learn and practice basic skills such as making beds and giving a bath and then progressing to skills such as starting IVs and giving medications. Students will also learn tasks such as proper hand hygiene and how to perform a health assessment. This will include tasks such as taking blood pressure and listening to heart and lung sounds. The students will learn these skills under the supervision and direction of a qualified nursing faculty member who will teach them proper techniques and procedures. Bryarly goes on to say, “Students will have ample time in the lab to practice before demonstrating their skills to the faculty before going to the hospital for their clinical rotations.”
BPC President Dr. Steven F. Echols commented, “We are very grateful for the wonderful legacy of Dr. Letton, and for his foresight and generosity in establishing this fund which has been of great help in providing for Christian based nursing education at the three Georgia Baptist Institutions of Higher Education. The impact of this support will never be fully known this side of eternity. Nursing education is a perfect expression of our mission to see the lives of our students transformed so that they may become ambassadors for Christ in the field of medical care.”
Based on a feasibility study done last year, the need for nurses is critical. As demand continues unabated, educators and healthcare providers are working together to supply the workforce. Areas with higher proportions of low-income and minority residents suffer most from a smaller pool of qualified physicians and other healthcare professionals. Addressing this need undergirds the college’s mission to provide a transformational experience not only to its students but also to the region it calls home.
The Georgia Board of Nursing has recently approved the start of the nursing program at BPC for the fall of 2022. The goal is to have training for nurses who will go forth as ambassadors for Christ in their field. The effort to establish a nursing program at BPC first began with a vision and formal proposal from Dr. Helene Peters, professor of biology and chair of the math and science division. Dr. Peters saw the great need for a Christian college nursing program that would help meet the shortage of nurses in South Georgia. As a result of the board action, Brewton-Parker College is now the only approved Christian college south of Macon that will offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.