Gaston College received $60 million in the state budget to expand its health science program, which will allow it to train more healthcare workers, college officials say. The $60 million marks North Carolina’s largest community college budget allocation this year, and the largest in Gaston College’s history, say lawmakers.
The money will go toward a building, says CaroMont Health President and CEO Chris Peek, but it will help create a talent pipeline for not only Gaston County’s hospital, but for healthcare systems across the region.
“The investment the state has made is not about brick and mortar,” says Peek, a Gaston College graduate.
“It’s about changing the lives of students who will in the future save the lives of people in this community. That’s what this $60 million is about.”
Why it matters: The expanded program could help address the approximate 700 job openings in healthcare in the region and contribute to the growing healthcare industry, say lawmakers and healthcare officials present at Friday’s announcement at Gaston College.
“The critical need for healthcare workers is only continuing to grow and grow,” says House Speaker Tim Moore. “You’re going to be helping save lives and we’ll be able to look back and see a tangible result of this appropriation.”
Gaston College works with public schools in Gaston, Lincoln and Cleveland counties to create a healthcare pathway for students, including its early college program, and Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory.
The college also partners with CaroMont Health, the state’s largest independent health care system, and Atrium and Novant, in its programs.
The planned facility will be an expansion of Gaston College’s existing Dallas campus. Intended services through the new facility are to include:
Advanced health care education and development
High-quality continuing education with healthcare-specific certifications
Certificates, diplomas, associate degree programs
Workforce development programs (industry certifications)
Apprenticeship opportunities in four health science programs
A cutting-edge healthcare technology-driven simulation center
“This historic investment in our future healthcare workforce is an acknowledgment of the critical needs of our region. We know that to get ahead of the potential healthcare crisis, we must begin today to develop that talent pool of smart healthcare talent to fill the jobs we have and will need,” said state Representative Jason Saine, who added he took courses at Gaston College while working toward his degree at UNC Charlotte.
What they're saying: “The Gaston College Health Science Education and Simulation Center will fundamentally transform health care in our region, and its positive impact will be felt for generations,” added State Senator Brad Overcash.
Gaston County Board of Commission Chairman Chad Brown says the investment will also help economic developers attract new industry since it addresses both education and health care.
Go deeper: Click here to read the full article.