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Records Relating to La Junta Mennonite School o... | Mennonite Archival Commons

Dr. Andrew S. Brunk, a young Mennonite doctor from Elida, Ohio, who served as medical director of the Mennonite Sanitarium at Swink, Colorado (some 4-5 miles west of La Junta) from 1911 to 1922, began promoting establishment of an accredited School of Nursing because of the continuing need for trained Mennonite nurses to staff the sanitarium. Although some Mennonites believed that a course in "practical training" was sufficient, the Sanitarium Board authorized Brunk and Emma L. Eby, the sanitarium’s head nurse and matron, to contact the Colorado Board of Nurse Examiners regarding the requirements for setting up a school. Accordingly, the Sanitarium Board established the Mennonite Sanitarium Training School on 7 October 1914, under overall control of the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities (Mennonite Church). The new school included a strong missionary emphasis with its primary objective being the preparation of Mennonite girls for Christian service in the field of nursing.

Members of the first graduating class in 1918 and all following ones received part of their professional training at hospitals in Denver, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs. Because the nursing students were required to make excursions into these "big and wicked" cities, outside of the protective womb of the Mennonite community, Mennonite Church congregations were established in Denver, Pueblo, and Manitou Springs (the latter near Colorado Springs) during subsequent years in part to serve as safe “Menno havens” and places of spiritual nurture for the nursing students.

When a new 70-bed medical complex – the "Mennonite Hospital and Sanitarium" -- was completed in La Junta under the direction of the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities on 8 April 1928, the Mennonite Sanitarium Training School was moved from Swink to the site of the former La Junta City Hospital at 9th and Carson Streets. This facility housed both the school and nurses’ residences from 1928 to 1950. By 1940 the School of Nursing had trained more than 130 nurses, most of whom had reportedly "been saved for the Church" through the auspices of the training program. Until 1946 the school was an integral part of the Mennonite Hospital and Sanitarium. That year the school, renamed the La Junta Mennonite School of Nursing, was reorganized as an independent institution under the direct supervision of a school board of control. During the fall of 1949 administration of the school was transferred to the Mennonite Board of Education.

Miller Hall, named for Nora Mae Miller, a graduate of the school’s class of 1923 and director of its education department from 1925-1950, was constructed at the medical complex in 1950 to house the nursing school and serve as a residence for the nursing students and other hospital and sanitarium nurses. The School of Nursing closed with its last graduating class in 1958. Approximately 350 nurses graduated from the School of Nursing between 1918 and 1958. Thereafter, a Practical Nursing Program was commenced, but it closed in 1973 when Otero Junior College in La Junta took over the program.

Source: Swartzendruber, Maude and Harlan D. Unrau. "La Junta Mennonite School of Nursing (La Junta, Colorado, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2011. Web. 05 March 2013.

Records filed under "La Junta Mennonite School of Nursing (La Junta, Colo.)"

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