Scholarship fund created in memory of Nikolina Stoyanova, Oregon State Hospital-Portland patient who died

Date: 2012-11-07
Source: The Oregonian

Seven months after a young woman choked to death while in the care of the Oregon State Hospital, her guardian, an adoption agency and a Portland couple moved by her story have established a scholarship fund in her memory.

The Nikolina Stoyanova Memorial Scholarship will go to a student at Mount Hood Community College pursuing a mental health and human services degree.

It will be awarded each year to a second-year student at the Gresham college "so they can get training to help people like Nikolina," said Lisa Bayer-Day, who became Stoyanova's guardian about two months before the 24-year-old woman's death.

The founders of the scholarship fund -- including Northeast Portland couple Michael Schultz and Shirley Loesch and adoption agency All God's Children -- hope to eventually raise enough money to fund multiple scholarships of $1,000 each year.

Stoyanova died last April at the Portland branch of the psychiatric hospital after she swallowed a small bottle of eyedrops that had been handed to her by a nurse at the hospital -- despite her well-documented history of swallowing items and harming herself.

It wasn't the only mistake, according to internal hospital reports. Staff members tried giving Stoyanova oxygen -- only to learn that the oxygen tank on the emergency cart was empty. A nurse was unable to work the hospital's phones to call 911. And when an ambulance was finally summoned, the crew waited outside the wrong entrance until a hospital staff member found them.

The hospital has since made changes to its practices, including adding a patient's risk factors onto daily sheets, ensuring that emergency supplies are replenished and training staff how to use the telephones.

But Schultz and Loesch, who read about Stoyanova's death in The Oregonian last June, wanted to do something more. Stoyanova's name was familiar to them, said Schultz, because she was adopted from Bulgaria by an Oregon couple the year after Schultz and Loesch had adopted a boy from Bulgaria through the same organization, All God's Children.

But they didn't learn until reading the news article that her adoptive parents, Justin Smith and Janis Kuchler of Pendleton, had abused her -- eventually pleading guilty to criminal sexual abuse charges. Stoyanova then spent the next several years living in care facilities, including the Oregon State Hospital.

Schultz, an executive director with Legacy Health's Office of Philanthropy, and Loesch, a director of education for the University of Portland, wanted to do something to honor her.

"She lived an unbelievably difficult life, and her story has touched so many people," Schultz said. "Nikolina dreamed of attending college and pursuing a career. She cherished her friendships and had a lot to offer."

--Helen Jung

Nikolina Stoyanova Memorial Scholarship
For more information on how to donate, go to Mount Hood Community College's Foundation page. To apply for the scholarship, go to the Mount Hood Community College's Scholarship page.


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