LU Honors Dr. Gordon With Naming Decision

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2010

FARMVILLE – Not a bad debut.

Dr. Edward I. Gordon attended his initial meeting as a newly-appointed member of Longwood University's Board of Visitors this fall and saw the university's governing body approve naming the new clinical simulation lab in his honor.

Dr. Gordon is the lab's benefactor, having donated $1 million to fund the Clinical Simulation Learning Center last summer, the largest gift ever to Longwood from a local resident.

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A plaque honoring Dr. Gordon's late wife, Loretta, will be dedicated at a later date, the university announced.

“I was quite proud of it,” he said during a phone interview about the Board's decision, “and I'm quite proud to leave a legacy that will help so many lives.”

Dr. Gordon said he was asked to leave the meeting when the Board of Visitors discussed the naming of the building and the plaque honoring his late wife.

The Board's action touched his heart when he returned.

“It does,” he said, “and it's going to go on forever.”

Even if new technology some day supplants the simulation center, which is expected to celebrate its opening and dedication in February, “the name would stay that way forever,” Dr. Gordon said he was told by university officials.

The Dr. Edward I. Gordon Clinical Simulation Learning Center.

The dedication to his late wife, who was a nurse, will also be perpetual, he said.

Dr. Gordon was appointed to the Board of Visitors by Gov. Bob McDonnell and September marked his first meeting.

The donation of $1 million, he said, was actually “detrimental” to his appointment because the governor didn't want any appearance that a position like that could be won through such a contribution.

His appointment, he explained, is meant to enhance the relationship between Longwood and the Town of Farmville. Dr. Gordon is also a member of Town Council.

Dr. Gordon's donation of $1 million allowed LU to purchase highly sophisticated virtual reality equipment to create LU's Clinical Simulation Learning Center for the new Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

Dr. Gordon's gift is establishing the Clinical Simulation Learning Center in three phases over three years in coordination with the development of the nursing curriculum, according to Longwood.

Dr. Gordon's donation will allow LU to purchase the equivalent of a flight simulator, but for nursing students-mechanical, or virtual reality, patients. Male, female, a child, and a pregnant woman.

The training is extremely realistic, according to Dr. Gordon, who describes it as “fancy equipment. Only a few nursing schools have it. If you do the wrong thing with these mechanical patients, you may hurt them, you may cause problems. One gives birth and you can hurt the baby or the mother…And so it allows the teaching of nurses without the idea of the human contact until they're ready.”

Dr. Gordon has described his donation as a perfect fit.

“There are ways to leave a legacy and do something for the good of people…and when I looked at things,” he said, “it fit me really well. It fit what I am.

“Everything I do is related to me and nurses helping me do something for the common good for patients…It fit me. It fit me as physician. It fit me as nurses helping me,” he said. “It fit me with computers. It fit me as a Town Council member and Longwood has helped this town grow and we have helped Longwood grow.

There was also that technological connection. Dr. Gordon is interested in computers and tele-medicine.

And, then, of course, there are these facts:

“My wife was a nurse…My three daughters are nurses. I was raised by nurses,” said Dr. Gordon.

Dr. Gordon's $1 million donation will continue to help nursing students, even as technology advances in the years to come.

“This will be perpetual (because) it's upgradeable,” he explained of the virtual reality system. “As things get fancier, this will get fancier, too, but it will continue to be the basis (and) it will grow with it.”

The gift will make a huge difference in the fledgling nursing program.

“We are very fortunate that a Farmville community leader understands the importance of the new Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program at Longwood University, and the value of utilizing clinical simulation as an educational instructional tool,” said Dr. Melody Eaton, director of the nursing program, in a statement released by the university at the time of the donation's announcement.

“The Clinical Simulation Learning Center will provide hands-on experience in a realistic, but controlled, environment. Through the use of full-size electromechanical human patient simulators, students will practice assessment, decision-making, and nursing skills,” Dr. Eaton said.

“The simulators can speak and breathe as well as emit palpable pulses, heartbeats and other human physiological indicators,” she explained. “The Simulation Center will truly enhance the learning process and prepare our students for professional nursing practice and the real world of nursing.”

LU's first class of nursing students, Dr. Gordon said, is “brilliant.”