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Pikeville partnership plants opportunity for potential nurses

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6
Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 1:49 PM EST
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) joined Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) for a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, celebrating the opening of a new nursing facility.

The training facility, or Health and Wellbeing Learning Center, will accommodate students in the school’s nursing program in its more than 8,000 square-foot space. Offering simulation labs, hands-on training, a lecture space, study areas, and more.

“Our region has a critical need for nurses, as does our state and country,” said PMC President & CEO Donovan Blackburn. “By 2024, Kentucky is projected to need 16,000 nurses. That is why this project is so important to both PMC and Big Sandy. We have to act now to begin training future nurses, and this is definitely a step we needed to make.”

That need in the healthcare field, and the college’s desire to spread the reach of its nursing program, created the new space. The center, located in the AVA Center, is within walking distance to the BSCTC Pikeville campus, offering students an easy commute on top of the clinic-like feel.

Officials say the growth of the program, seeing two cohorts and around 50 students already, is promising. But they hope to keep the students flowing through to help the region meet a need and keep nurses working and living in the region.

“Mr. Blackburn and I have spoken at length about this project many times. We believe in the creation of shared physical space to more formally bridge the gap between our college and the hospital. We have also approached the academic calendar with the determination to meet the urgent demand for healthcare professionals,” said Blackburn. “With great pride, we see the solution in action as nursing cohorts are moving directly from the classroom to patients’ rooms. With BSCTC’s rich legacy of graduating excellent nurses, we have invested in a partnership that will sustain our mountain communities by increasing healthcare while increasing educational opportunities for Eastern Kentuckians.”

But, Blackburn said, it is about more than the growth of healthcare. It is about helping the economy, since the positions are well-paid for the well-trained heroes.

“Everybody has a piece of the puzzle. And you look, again, at health care as our leading economic engine and what we need to do to prop it up from an economic standpoint,” said Blackburn. “Obviously there’s a healthcare standpoint too. We have to have nurses to be able to take care of our sick and those what are in need.”

Those involved with the program hope to see more students apply to funnel more care through the region.

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