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New Scholarships Established at Union Hospital Foundation in Honor of Longtime Leaders


Two new scholarships honoring Burnita Laybold Hershfield and Mary Joan & Thomas Conway were recently established through Union Hospital Foundation and will be awarded this spring to qualified students.  All three individuals being honored through these scholarships have played significant roles in Union Hospital�s history.


Burnita Laybold Hershfield worked at Union Hospital for 35 years. During her tenure with the hospital she served in the capacities of staff nurse, head nurse, house supervisor, and the director of nursing.  As nursing director she oversaw the opening of new nursing units that dramatically improved patient care including Post-Surgery Recovery, Intensive Care, Coronary Care, Neonatal Intensive Care and Psychiatric.  In addition, cancer, orthopedic and urological units were developed under Hershfield's watch, as well as the appointment of nurse educators who taught patients about their own health management.  Hershfield's leadership established a higher standard in nursing and championed a move in which nurses began to focus on maintaining health and preventing illness rather than simply caring for the sick.


Hershfield served under the leadership of Frank Shelton who was President and CEO of Union Hospital from 1971 until 1999.


"Burnita was a strong nurse executive who was always seeking ways to improve patient care and always striving to make Union Hospital a better place for nurses to practice their profession." said Shelton.  He added that Hershfield became a strong advocate for nursing education while at Union Hospital.  �She forged the partnership between ISU and Union Hospital which continues to this day.  She encouraged nurses to pursue graduate programs.  The scholarship in her name is an appropriate tribute to her leadership."


Hershfield eventually retired from Union Hospital in January of 1986 and passed away in November of 2009. Her daughter, Cheryl Sisson, noted that her mother's commitment to Union Hospital remained strong throughout her career.  "My mother spent many years at the hospital. She watched it grow and met so many good people there.  It was a major part of her life and she never complained about her work.  She always enjoyed it." she said.


The Burnita Laybold Hershfield Scholarship was established by numerous donors as a way to honor her life and contributions to Union Hospital.  A scholarship in the amount of no less than $1,000 will be awarded annually to a current full-time or part-time employee of Union Hospital who is pursuing an advanced degree (masters or doctorate) from Indiana State University School of Nursing, with the desire to continue practice in the Wabash Valley.


Mrs. Mary Joan Conway was a resident of Terre Haute from 1955 to her death in 2009.  She served on the Board of Directors of the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of the Wabash Valley.  Dr. Thomas Conway was a longtime resident of Terre Haute.  He served as a pediatrician on the staff of AP & S Clinic, as a physician with privileges at Union Hospital.  He also served as Health Commissioner for Vigo County and as an adjunct clinical professor of Pediatrics for the Indiana University School of Medicine, giving lectures to the medical students studying in Terre Haute.  In 1968, Dr. Conway and his colleague Dr. William Scully led Union Hospital in launching the state's first ever Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Thomas Conway currently resides in Evansville, Indiana.


Mary Joan and Thomas Conway held a sustained appreciation for the professional services provided to the people of the Wabash Valley by Hospice and VNA of the Wabash Valley. Through this scholarship, the Conway family seeks to encourage health care professionals, wherever employed, to develop those life-giving and life-saving skills that characterize the officers and staff of Hospice and VNA of the Wabash Valley.  The scholarship in the amount of $10,000 is to be awarded once a year to a resident of the Wabash Valley currently employed in the Nursing or related health care discipline and pursuing a degree in Nursing, Physical Therapy or related health care discipline.


"The Conway family's generous scholarship will be a wonderful reward for a student in a health career.  I appreciate the recognition and value that Dr. and Mrs. Conway placed on the special skills of home health and hospice care providers."  said Trudy Rupska, CEO of Hospice and VNA of the Wabash Valley


Dr. and Mrs. Conway have five children, Mark Conway of Evansville, Indiana, Patrick Conway of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Mike Conway of Bloomington, Indiana, Tim Conway of Newburyport, Massachusetts, and Dan Conway of College Station, Texas. The Mary Joan & Thomas Conway Scholarship was established through gifts to Union Hospital Foundation by them.


"Mary Joan and Thomas Conway devoted their adult lives to health care in the Wabash Valley·It gives the next generation of the Conway family a great deal of pleasure to fund this scholarship in honor of our parents.  By doing so, we perpetuate their devotion." said Patrick Conway on behalf of his siblings.


Because of gifts from generous donors, Union Hospital Foundation is able to present over $40,000 in scholarships on an annual basis.  Last year twenty-two deserving students from the Wabash Valley were named as recipients.  The scholarships provides opportunity for students seeking careers in health care such as nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, pre-pharmacy and other academic majors.  Please contact Union Hospital Foundation office if you are interested in contributing to a scholarship fund as a way of honoring these individuals. 


The mission of the Union Hospital Foundation is to support advances in medical care that benefit the patients served by Union Hospital and initiatives that promote the health and wellness for those residents who live in the Wabash Valley.  The Foundation fulfills this mission by raising charitable gifts and grants, providing effective stewardship for gifts received and by awarding grants to Union Hospital and to select other organizations through which improvements in medical care and community health are realized. Union Hospital Foundation receives charitable support from individuals, corporations, foundations and organizations who share the Foundation's vision for a healthy, vital community.


For further information, please contact Jacquelyn Mathis, Director of Development of Union Hospital Foundation, at 812.238.7534 or via e-mail at


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