Riley Pfeifer receives Come Home Award

Posted on April 27, 2018

Recent Come Home recipient Riley Pfeifer returned home from Toledo, OH where she earned her master’s in Physician Assistant Studies. Having passed her boards in January, Pfeifer came back to Fort Gratiot a certified and licensed physician assistant.

The Community Foundation will pay off $10,000 on Pfeifer’s student loans over the next couple years as long as she continues to live and work in St. Clair County.

She works for Physician HealthCare Network in the emergency room at McLaren Port Huron, something for which Jennifer Montgomery, president and CEO of McLaren, is thankful. 

“Across the country, nursing and physician shortages are at some of the highest levels we have ever seen,” she said. “An aging population with chronic and expanding health concerns and the large number of impending health care clinician retirements are contributing to the issue.”

Montgomery added we face the same challenges locally. McLaren typically has more than a dozen open positions for nursing and other non-physician staff in any given month. More than 65 percent of the hospital’s workforce requires a skilled certification or college degree, so with Michigan’s record-low unemployment rate, these positions are often harder to recruit and take longer to fill.

“While we work very closely with SC4 and hire approximately fifty nurse graduates annually, the Come Home Award helps us recruit talent, such as physician assistants like Riley Pfeifer, who attended other colleges and universities outside of St. Clair County,” Montgomery said.

The Come Home Award committee hopes to continue adding to the McLaren staff with an award up to $15,000 for non-physician employees. This award is funded by Dr. Daniel Wilhelm through the James Wilhelm Memorial Scholarship Fund as well as long-time donors Don and Bonnie Fletcher. 

Established in 1988, the James Wilhelm Memorial Scholarship Fund is one of the Community Foundation’s oldest scholarship funds. It was also one of the first funds to support our Come Home Award, and still supports scholar-athletes currently or soon to be enrolled in college. 

Don is the former CEO of Port Huron Hospital (now McLaren). Both he and Bonnie have been Community Foundation donors since 2000 and have supported many of our funds and projects, including the Blue Water River Walk, Community Capital Club, Women’s Initiative and the Rev. Rene Desmarais Fund.

“Having an adequate supply of health care professionals helps McLaren Port Huron meet the patient demand for greater access to care,” Montgomery said. “We have been fortunate enough to have hired four Come Home recipients over the past several years. The Community Foundation of St. Clair County made this possible.”

And, of course, our donors.

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