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East Texas Baptist University renovated an old hotel in downtown Marshall to house its nursing program. (Courtesy/ETBU)  

A nearly 100-old building in downtown Marshall has experienced a grand renaissance thanks to East Texas Baptist University. 

The ETBU School of Nursing occupies several floors of the old Marshall Hotel building now known as the Marshall Grand.

“It has been a remarkable journey to transform a building that initially opened in 1929 into the modern training facility that it is today,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said during the building's opening ceremonies  earlier this year. “As Isaiah 25:1 says, the Lord planned this long ago. None of it would be possible without the provision of God’s hand stirring the spirits of His generous people."

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East Texas Baptist University nursing students use dummies that simulate activities of actual patients. (Courtesy East Texas Baptist University) 

Marshall native and businessman Jerry Cargill and his wife, Judy Cargill, along with former Texas State Sen. and former Harrison County Judge Richard Anderson and his wife, Christina Anderson, donated the building to ETBU in 2013 for the advancement of Christ-centered education and the benefit of the local community and East Texas region.

ETBU renovated five out of eight floors of the historic Marshall Grand, three of which are being utilized by the School of Nursing.

“One of my friends encouraged me to fix up some of the old buildings downtown. I knew then that downtown Marshall would not make it until someone fixed up the hotel. We put together a fundraising program with the Andersons and raised enough money to do the first phase in the restoration of this building,” Jerry Cargill said in a statement released by the university. “Six years ago, we donated the Marshall Grand to the University to put in a medical school. To see where they have taken it, we know it was the perfect thing for us to do. We are delighted that ETBU came to us with a plan. It gives the community a sense of pride, and we believe it will revitalize the whole community.”

ETBU raised over $3 million to renovate Marshall Grand, with significant contributions from foundations. As others partner with ETBU, the University will develop additional floors within the historic building for institutional needs.

"We are thrilled with the response that we received from the extended ETBU family, foundations, and community members to our School of Nursing campaign," ETBU Vice President for Advancement Scott Bryant said in the information from ETBU. "Relocating the School of Nursing to the Marshall Grand provides us the additional space needed to train more nurses and help meet the growing need for medical personnel in our state and region."

The Dr. Charles and Jo Ann Whiteside family, Dr. D.M. Edwards, Marshall Economic Development Corporation, and the city of Marshall made significant contributions to the technologies available in the Nell Whiteside Starling Center for Nursing Education on the third floor.

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East Texas Baptist University refurbished an old building in downtown Marshall for its nursing program and created beautiful lounge areas. (Courtesy/ETBU) 

MEDCO provided a $200,000 development grant to support ETBU’s purchase of vocational training equipment for the nursing skills and simulation laboratories. The simulation equipment includes mannequins, headboards, hospital and medical treatment beds, gurneys, cameras, and computer simulation technology.

“As MEDCO’s mission is focused on workforce training, this project was a perfect way for us to partner with ETBU in their endeavor to train students,” Marshall Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Donna Maisel said in a statement. “The mannequins can be programmed to simulate any condition. It is a state-of-the-art facility and will be here for a long time into the future. As the nursing program grows, we hope that we can help through our continued partnership.”

From seizures to a breech birth, the seven wireless mannequins simulate a broad range of realistic conditions. Students can complete a full-body assessment, perform chest compressions, check for a pulse, and insert intravenous and intraosseous medications into the mannequins. Every physical contact a student has with a mannequin is recorded, allowing faculty and staff to review each case with the class. Faculty and staff will not intervene even if the patient crashes, enabling students to gain critical, hands-on experience before they move into clinical situations.

“It is critical for nurses to be trained beyond providing medicine to patients. In the simulation laboratory, we are committed to teaching our students the value of assessment,” ETBU Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas Sanders said. “As a University, we are thankful for all of the individuals, who came together over 100 years ago to invest in Christian higher education in Marshall. We are grateful that this vision has not died in our town and for the opportunity to see something old become new. I thank God for every individual, who had a hand in this construction and is a part of extending the healing hand of Christ throughout this nation.”

On the same floor as the simulation lab is a skills laboratory, where students primarily work alongside each other. There are also two classrooms on the fifth floor, one holding 48 and another seating 18, and a lounge area that can easily be renovated for more classroom space as the program grows.

“We see the move to the Marshall Grand as an opportunity to grow our program, while providing needed resources for our students. Ultimately, this impacts healthcare practice in our community, the East Texas region, and wherever our students go as they serve Christ as nurse professionals,” ETBU Dean of the School of Nursing Rebekah Grigsby said. “This new space provides an innovative environment to accomplish our mission to educate nurses, who will leave the University prepared to deliver holistic, Christ-centered nursing care.”

Since 2015, ETBU nurses have achieved 100 percent pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination. With the expansion to the Marshall Grand, ETBU intends to develop Master of Science programs in nursing education and speech pathology.

“ETBU has always taken our training seriously, but this facility shows us even more so. I am excited to receive hands-on experience and be prepared for so many different situations,” ETBU sophomore nursing major Reagan Dean said. “Especially with the lounge and other study areas, I think we will grow closer together as a program. The facility will allow us to build stronger relationships with one another while helping us feel more connected to the community of Marshall.”

The Marshall Grand also houses an art gallery inspired by the parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37. Through the generosity of ETBU alumna Rita Storie Turner (’48) artist Melinda Marlowe of Cimarron, New Mexico, was commissioned to create replicas of famous renditions of Jesus’ biblical parable to display in the Good Samaritan Gallery.

The collection of nine pieces features works by Vincent Van Gogh, Eugene Delacroix, and Jean-Francios Millet, among others. The gallery also includes an original work by Marlowe, titled "The ETBU Good Samaritan." The painting depicts a female ETBU nursing student helping an elderly woman while others pass by. 

President Blackburn credited the people of Marshall with the success of the university, its nursing program and the Marshall Grand. "Thank you for your prayer and support, sharing what God is doing at ETBU. Pray that He will continue to use this institution to be a light on the Hill at our main campus and on this hilltop within the city of Marshall.”

The information for the story was provided by East Texas Baptist University.

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