Home Lifestyle Greenhoots establish $250,000 endowment for nursing program

Greenhoots establish $250,000 endowment for nursing program

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Wingate alum Gaile Greenhoot ’94 knows the value of a good nurse.

A retired hospital administrator who spent much of her healthcare career by the bedside, she has established the Gaile and Jerry Greenhoot Scholarship Endowment, with a gift of $250,000 to benefit Wingate’s nursing program.

Her goal is to not only encourage more young people to pursue careers in nursing, but also to ensure that they embrace the holistic approach critical to true patient care. Ninety percent of the endowment proceeds will go to a scholarship with the rest to fund an annual seminar focused on the art of nursing and caring touch.

“The art of nursing is not the equipment, it’s the human touch,” says Greenhoot, a Charlotte native who now lives in Saluda, N.C. “It’s not just about giving medications and controlling machines. Nurses can be great at that, but forget the human part: the touch, the mouth care, the skin care.”

A graduate of the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing, Greenhoot spent the early years of her career in critical care, moving quickly into managerial roles at the well-known Charlotte hospital (now Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center). She took advantage of an RN-to-BSN program that Wingate offered onsite at the Hawthorne Lane facility, earning her bachelor’s in 1994. She went on to earn a master’s in nursing administration and business administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1997, and by the time she left Presbyterian for NorthEast Medical Center (now Atrium Health Cabarrus), she was director of surgical nursing and neurosciences nursing.

After a five-year stint at NorthEast, she moved to Fort Myers, Florida, and served for 22 years as chief administrative officer for Lee Memorial Health System, overseeing everything from patient care and surgery services to facility operations.

Despite growing administrative roles, Greenhoot never strayed far from the bedside. She’d show up on the night shift to work alongside employees so she could see firsthand what patients and staff were experiencing. Rather than use the remote offices of previous administrators, she set up shop in the middle of critical care areas.

“I needed the doctors and nurses to be able to come by and tell me what they needed,” Greenhoot says. And when she faced difficult budgeting decisions, even during the Great Recession of 2008, she kept her people-first priorities.

“Hospitals who have nurses as administrators, we protect the bedside. When financial changes have to be made, we can give good examples of why we need adequate nurse-to-patient ratios,” she says. “Yes, you have to do the financial part. You have to make money to reinvest in the hospital and buildings. But if I made a decision to cut, it was usually in things and not people.”

It’s that passion to support nurses and help them give holistic care that led to Greenhoot’s endowed scholarship, an investment that Kristen Barbee, Wingate’s director of nursing, truly appreciates.

“Having alumni such as Gaile Greenhoot reach back to invest in Wingate’s lab of difference-making is important because Gaile and other healthcare workers see how different nursing is today versus when we were in active practice,” Barbee says. “Endowments like this, specifically designed to aid in bringing the art of nursing back to the forefront, along with the science of nursing, are vital.”

Wingate’s current nursing program, part of the Levine College of Health Sciences, started in 2012 with 14 students and has since graduated 174 nurses, 85 percent of them from North Carolina. Named the fourth-best nursing program in the state by RegisteredNursing.org in 2021 (the highest-ranking independent university on the list), the program has earned a 100-percent first-time pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses five times over the past seven years.


Greenhoot, whose son and daughter are nurses and whose daughter-in-law is a nurse practitioner, hopes the scholarship will nudge students in that direction, not only because of the nation’s growing shortage of nurses, but because the field can be a launching pad for other opportunities. While nursing at Presbyterian, she also taught classes, and her nursing background helped her move into hospital administration and eventually into the political arena.

“My nursing and business and decision-making background is why I ran for office in Fort Myers,” she says. After she retired in 2010, she served on the Fort Myers City Council for five years, as the city’s population grew from 70,000 to more than 100,000.

“Nursing can open doors to just about anything you want to do,” Greenhoot says.

“Gaile Greenhoot’s professional journey from nurse to executive was an act of continual service, first with patients and then with institutions and communities,” says Wingate Provost Jeff Frederick. “Her heart for service will now echo at Wingate through the scholarship program she and Dr. Jerry Greenhoot have launched, and through the ‘Art of Nursing’ initiatives her philanthropy will provide. We’re indebted to her and grateful for her passion to teach and graduate great nurses.”

Wingate President Rhett Brown says the University relies on generous donors such as the Greenhoots to help students who are flush with potential but short on finances.

“This kind of scholarship support is key to our role as a catalyst for social mobility,” he says. “Scholarships like this open the door for more students to make a difference in a profession they are passionate about.”

For Barbee, it’s about both passion and compassion.

“Wingate’s nursing program is continually looking for ways to teach future nurses how to care for themselves, care for others, and not lose that compassion – showing patients by looking them in the eyes and being present during their care,” she says. “This endowment is a means to assist us in driving that point home.”

Barbee is working with Wingate’s Office of Financial Planning to award the first Greenhoot Scholarship for nursing. Candidates must be admitted to the nursing program, be in good academic standing, show an appreciation for the art of nursing care and demonstrate both leadership qualities and financial need.

Learn more about studying nursing at Wingate at Wingate.edu.

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