Dr. Weiner Helps Treat Local Healthcare Problems with CCC Scholarship
CLARKSDALE – When cardiologist Dr. Roger Weiner moved to Clarksdale from Philadelphia, PA in 1999, he found that healthcare in the Mississippi Delta, more so than other areas in the country, was sick.
In addition to having a significant number of the population plagued by obesity and heart disease, the Delta, Weiner noted, also suffered from a shortage of doctors and nurses to provide quality care.
And, like a good doctor would, Weiner immediately began “treatment”—opening his own private practice, getting involved in local government and giving back to the community. A notable part of that treatment included the establishment of the Dr. Roger Weiner Associate Degree and Practical Nursing Scholarship at Coahoma Community College.
Founded in 2007, in the midst of a critical nursing shortage in the Mississippi Delta, the scholarship is available to students enrolled in CCC’s Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) and Practical Nursing (PN) programs. Since it’s inception, the Weiner scholarship has pumped more than a quarter of a million dollars into CCC’s ADN and PN programs.
“The future of a culture, whether it be in Mississippi, Canada or France— is its children. The more opportunity they have for education, the better chances that culture has to succeed,” said Weiner. “Mississippi, for a lot of different reasons, has not afforded its children the maximum opportunity to succeed. They have not had access to good education or health care and I thought, with this scholarship, I could kill two birds with one stone. …I can give young people the opportunity to get educated, get them into a job that’ll give back to the community by improving healthcare through nursing and spread the word to other young men and women to get into nursing.”
As a doctor, Weiner knows first-hand the importance of having quality nurses.
“The frontline of healthcare is the quality of your nurses. A doctor’s evaluation or care plan is only as good as the nurses on the front line,” he said. “One of the weaknesses I saw here was the sparsity of nurses and the lack of specialty training, so I thought (the scholarship) was, over time, a way to get a new generation of young people interested in nursing and a way too eventually improve the quality of care here in the Mississippi Delta.”
In addition to running his own successful private practice, Weiner is also member of the Coahoma County Board of Supervisors. He donates his full-salary from the position to help fund the scholarship.
PN students heavily rely on the scholarship to pay for summer school tuition and program expenses needed to complete their degrees. In 2012 and 2013, graduates of CCC’s PN program had 100 percent of their summer tuition paid through the Weiner scholarship, and, due to an enrollment increase, 61 percent in 2014.
“It’s a big help for students because a Pell Grant isn’t offered for our summer courses,” said Beverly Overton, CCC’s Director of Health Sciences. “We’re so grateful for Dr. Weiner and applaud him for his generosity and support.”
During the 2014 PN pinning ceremony last month, Overton presented Weiner with a plaque, commemorating him for his outstanding contributions to CCC. Students applauded Weiner and thanked him for his contributions.
“It helped me out tremendously because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to afford summer school to finish up my final semester,” said recent CCC PN graduate Renita Hoskins of Clarksdale. “Dr. Weiner is really a Godsend. It’s good to know that there are people in the community willing to help others.”
PN graduate Melinda Pugh of Sumner said the Weiner scholarship was not only a big help financially, but emotionally as well when completing her degree.
“When you’re in nursing school it’s hard to go to work and go to school so a lot of us depended on financial aid. Since financial aid wasn’t available during the summer semester, it was an awesome feeling to be awarded the Weiner scholarship,” said Pugh. “Being in nursing school is difficult enough, so that took a lot off of us mentally. If we hadn’t received the scholarship then it would’ve been more difficult to concentrate on assignments, wondering how you would pay for school. …We’re so appreciative of (Dr. Weiner).”
CCC President Dr. Valmadge Towner also expressed gratitude for Weiner’s continued support of CCC’s nursing programs.
"In my opinion, true living is using your life to help others," said Towner. "Dr. Weiner's unselfish gesture of helping our students is an example of how one person can positively impact the lives of others. It is fitting that he is from the Philadelphia, PA area which is noted as the city of brotherly love."
Weiner said he finds contentment in knowing he’s playing a role in helping CCC students, who, in turn, can help “nurse” the Delta’s health care to a good condition.
“Unless you’re a cast of stone it has to make you feel good,” said Weiner. “It’s virtually the same type of feeling that drove me into medicine. When you make people better there’s an incredible amount of self-fulfillment. …It’s a similar situation. When you know that people otherwise wouldn’t be afforded the opportunity, and you can give them that opportunity, it’s a very gratifying experience.”