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Highland has permanent BNA program at Pinecrest Grove Community Center

What began as a pilot program for BNA courses taught at Pinecrest Grove Community Center in Mt. Morris, has become a successful program with a 100 percent pass rate, with four of the students hired at the location as BNA nurses.

Now that the pilot program has met with success in the southeastern part of Highland’s District, the nursing program has also been given permanent approval for the on-site Basic Nursing Assistant classes to be held in Mt. Morris.

Jennifer Grobe, Associate Dean of Nursing and Allied Health at Highland, was notified in September that the pilot program was successful and granted permanency.

“This is wonderful news for the southeastern part of Highland’s district. Highland plans to continue running summer cohorts of the BNA class at Pinecrest, and is also considering dual-credit opportunities for school districts in that area,” Grobe said. “The good news of the permanent program comes on the heels of a 100 percent pass rate in the course. This standard is upheld throughout all of Highland’s hybrid BNA courses, boasting an overall pass rate of 96 percent.  Administrators at Pinecrest also reported hiring four of the eight successful students from the course to work at the facility.”

The first class at the Grove Community Center began in June. The program received a grant from the A. Charles and Lillemor Lawrence Foundation to fund the classroom. The grant allows Pinecrest to purchase new computers and a large-screen television which was used by Highland to teach the Basic Nursing Assistant certificate program at the Mt. Morris location. It was approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Cassie Mekeel, the instructor for the BNA program, worked for more than two years to be able to offer the classes in Mt. Morris. The five-star rated long-term care center features more than the traditional nursing home and now offers on-site basic nursing assistant classes through Highland Community College.

The dedicated learning space offers computer terminals for student learning, patient care mannequins for practice, and a large area for discussion and collaboration between students and faculty. The highlight of this pilot project was the hybrid option for students and the convenience of holding classes in the same location as the clinical setting.

“When we started the program at Pinecrest we knew that it would be limited to only eight students in this group, due to the size of the classroom,” Mekeel said. “When I received the results that all eight of my students passed the state test I was excited for this part of the district. All the students who took the class at Pinecrest were local students from that area, eight potential new hires. The Pinecrest location opens many doors for others who are in that area and do not have the capability to drive up to the Highland campus in Freeport.” Mekeel said.

For more information on the BNA program, contact Cassie Mekeel at To register for a course contact HCC Admissions at 815.599.3414.

2998 W. Pearl City Road
Freeport, IL 61032-9341

Fax 815-235-6130