December 13, 2013

Nursing and Simulation Complex to be built at Tradition


Mississippi is facing a nursing shortage. But a new public-private partnership could soon reverse that trend and have a major impact on health care on the coast for years to come.

Recently Governor Phil Bryant joined local officials to announce a new Nursing and Simulation Complex will be built at the health care zone located on Hwy. 67 at Tradition.

This new complex, once completed, will double the number of nurses who will graduate from MGCCC’s Associate Degree Nursing program and will provide an easy transition to both the School of Nursing programs at The University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University through articulation agreements already in place between the institutions.

Funding sources for the complex include $12 million in Katrina Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, a $1.5 million land donation from Tradition, and $2 million from MGCCC for the equipment for the complex and other project costs. Tradition will match the CDBG funds with an additional $12 million of private funds in housing construction for students of MGCCC and William Carey University, which currently has about 1,000 students on its Tradition campus.

Tradition will donate the rights of way to the county for the roads and utilities to serve MGCCC and student housing. Tradition will also commit to MDA that it will be responsible for causing the Tradition Health Care Industry Zone (created under House Bill 722 in the 2013 Mississippi Legislative Session) to produce a minimum of $70 million in investments in capital improvements over the next five-10 years. That time frame is projected to produce 2,500 new, permanent jobs in health care institutions and businesses.

This partnership will solve a big problem, according to Governor Bryant.

"We need over 4,000 nurses. 4,880 nurses by 2016 in addition to the nurses that we're graduating now. This new school will be able to enroll 800 nurses," Bryant explained.

Those nurses need to learn medical skills. Dr. Mary Graham is the president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

"The critical piece to successful health care is great training, workforce training. A trained workforce in the health care industry," Graham said.

Providing nurses to fill the current and future needs is a key element in making the health care industry viable in the state. A 2009 study shows that for every one new nurse, more than 22 lives are saved annually; there is an increase in worker productivity by $9,900 per year; $46,000 is saved annually on medical costs; and an increased productivity attributable to decreased length of stay in hospitals was estimated at $2,000 annually.

"This is going to produce a minimum of $70 million in investment over the next five to ten years, and produce potentially 2,500 new jobs in the state of Mississippi," said Rep. Phillip Gunn, speaker of the House of Representatives.

Officials with the college hope to break ground on the school of nursing in the early part of 2014, and begin enrolling students by the Fall semester of 2015.