Work is underway on the new health sciences wing at the Currahee Campus of North Georgia Technical College in Stephens County.
The school celebrated the groundbreaking and beginning of construction at an event Wednesday.
The new wing will house North Georgia Tech’s Licensed Practical Nursing program and Paramedic/EMT program.
North Georgia Technical College President Dr. Gail Thaxton said that the expansion will have multiple benefits for these programs.
“It is going to attract students because they are going to see that the facility is current and state-of-the-art and everybody wants to learn with the newest and the best technology,” said Thaxton. “The other thing is that it is going to be a better learning platform for the students who are enrolled because it is going to more closely mirror today’s workplace in the health care industry than anything we could do to retrofit, renovate, or re-create in older facilities.”
North Georgia Technical College received $3.2 million in state funding for the expansion.
Thaxton said it will have the space and facilities necessary to take these programs to the next level.
“There will be laboratories, science laboratories, classrooms, computer labs,” said Thaxton. “But all of these laboratories around the paramedic/EMT program and the Licensed Practical Nursing program are going to have very specialized patient assessment rooms, viewing rooms, computerized monitoring rooms. It is really built out to meet today’s standards for workforce preparation.”
She went on to say that with Stephens County Hospital and Ty Cobb Medical Center both nearby, these programs and this expansion become even more important to the region.
“They need our graduates,” said Thaxton. “They need highly skilled, highly trained and educated workers. That was one of the original goals when the community advocated for this facility way back between 2005 and 2010, so that goal is going to become realized with this new facility.”
She also pointed out that the health care industry continues to grow.
“The challenge is to make sure that we send out graduates highly prepared for these jobs that we think are going to be there,” added Thaxton.
Officials from both hospitals were on hand, along with other local leaders from both Stephens and Franklin counties.
Stephens County Hospital Administrator Ed Gambrell said that the expansion is a significant step forward for not just the hospital and the health care industry, but the community.
“North Georgia Tech has a great reputation in education and training,” said Gambrell. “People that we have hired that have gone through different programs, they are good employees. They are well-trained. Most of them are from this area, so they are grounded here. I just fully support this program and I am so happy not just for North Georgia Tech, but for the whole community.”
Thaxton said that if everything goes on schedule, the school hopes to have the expansion open to students in Spring 2014.