By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced a grant to assist Huntsville Hospital to build a nursing simulation lab at Calhoun College’s Huntsville campus on Friday.
“Today, I was thrilled to announce that I have awarded a $1 million grant to [Huntsville Hospital] to partner with [Calhoun College] to construct a nursing simulation lab at their Calhoun-Huntsville campus,” Ivey said on Twitter. “Great example of how collaborative efforts create a lasting impact for years to come.”
The lab is the final piece necessary for Calhoun to establish a new nursing program in Huntsville, similar to its program in Decatur. According to Calhoun officials, the new two-year education program could graduate up to 48 additional Registered Nurses a year beginning in 2020.
Ivey was joined at the announcement at Huntsville Hospital by Huntsville Hospital Health System CEO David Spillers, COO Jeff Samz and Dr. James Klauber, president of Calhoun Community College.
Spillers said that the partnership is “perfectly timed for our community and region.”
“The need for more nurses is significant across the country,” Spillers said “This is especially so in areas that are growing like Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley. We are grateful to Governor Ivey for providing the funding which will help make this a reality.”
“The winners in this partnership are the patients across our community who will have greater access to the nursing care they need,” Samz said. “This project is indicative of how state government, our community college and our public hospital can work together for the benefit of Alabamians.”
“Huntsville Hospital and Calhoun Community College have for many years enjoyed a very successful partnership,” Klauber said. “Each year, the Hospital provides much needed clinical training slots for many of our nursing students, and recognizes the quality of our graduates by regularly hiring a significant number of them. We value our partnership and see this exciting, new initiative as an extension of this relationship as the Hospital and College work together to help fill our community’s growing demand for highly-trained and qualified nurses. The launch of our nursing program this fall at our Huntsville campus will create 48 new slots for our nursing program, which represents a 20 percent increase in the size of our program overall.”
Economic Developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “The one million dollar grant demonstrates the State of Alabama’s commitment to workforce development. Grants like this foster partnerships between industry and education and help provide the hands-on, practical experience needed in the nursing profession.”
“Huntsville Hospital is our city’s second largest employer and second largest hospital in Alabama,” Jones added. “It serves as the regional referral center for North Alabama and southern Tennessee. The grant will enable Calhoun Community College to add 48 slots to its clinical program with Huntsville Hospital, which is a significant step toward filling the statewide and nationwide nursing shortage. Ultimately, patients in our community will benefit with access to better quality of care.”
Hospital and school officials estimated the cost of building and furnishing the nursing simulation lab at $2.5 million. The $1 million grant from the Alabama Capital Improvement Trust Fund will be used toward the construction of the lab.
Huntsville Hospital will provide the balance of the funding and will oversee the construction project in coordination with Calhoun staff. Officials are hopeful that the project at Calhoun’s Huntsville campus can be ready to accept students as early as August of this year.