Aug 13, 2013 5:28 PM by MELISSA CANONE
LAFAYETTE - A new program at South Louisiana Community College will help fill a growing need within Acadiana's healthcare industry.
SLCC administrators, along with the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and CEOs from Lafayette General Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, and Regional Medical Center of Acadiana and Women's and Children's Hospital, announced a new registered nursing program today.
"Nursing continues to be the largest healthcare profession in the country and there's a substantial need for RNs to meet current healthcare demands," said Dr. Natalie J. Harder, SLCC chancellor. "Part of SLCC's mission is producing an educated workforce and this new RN program will help fill healthcare needs in our community and state."
The Louisiana Board of Nursing officially approved the program earlier this year. Now, the school is hiring faculty, developing curriculums and policies, and will host a site visit from the nursing board soon. The projection date for enrollment is Spring 2014.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission ranks registered nursing as a top-demand occupation in the state. By 2014, registered nursing will see the largest shortage among high-demand occupations.
"As the demand for health care continues to rise, the demand for registered nurses will be even greater," said David L. Callecod, FACHE, President/CEO of Lafayette General Health. "Lafayette General is committed to helping SLCC be a community leader in producing RNs for our region."
LGMC, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, and Regional Medical Center of Acadiana and Women's and Children's Hospital are each contributing $150,000 to the program for faculty salaries and state-of-the-art equipment.
"We need graduates who are well-prepared using the latest equipment and technology and who've received instruction from well-educated faculty," said Kathy Bobbs, CEO of Regional Medical Center of Acadiana and Women's and Children's Hospital. "Training should be conducted in labs and suites that match hospital facilities and capabilities. Our contributions will help create these learning environments for students."
SLCC's already-established programs in allied health include Clinical Laboratory Technician, Medical Assistant, Nurse Assistant, Patient Care Technician, Practical Nursing, and Surgical Technology will also benefit from the RN program and its facilities and equipment.
"This contribution from Lourdes and these other hospitals is an investment in healthcare and our community," said Bud Barrow, CEO of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center. "We are glad to partner to fill the needs of our industry."
The RN program is expected to anchor the school's new Health and Sciences building proposed for the Lafayette campus. At full capacity, the proposed facility will graduate 60 RNs per year. With an average salary of $65,933 in Acadiana, the region will see an additional $3.9 million in annual incomes.
The number of graduates in SLCC's already-established allied health programs is expected to double with this additional facility. These programs will produce 272 healthcare professionals annually, representing more than $5 million in salaries in the Acadiana economy.
"Both the RN program and the new facility will have quite an impact on the local and regional economies," said Gregg Gothreaux, CEO of LEDA. "Investing in education and growing the community college helps this area attract companies and add to a strong workforce."
The college is investigating other possible healthcare programs including Ophthalmology Technician, Radiology Technology, and Veterinary Technician for the 83,400 square-foot building.
Outside of healthcare, the facility will house the Lafayette Parish School System's Early College Academy. Currently, ECA enrolls 220 students in grades nine through 12. These students, upon graduation, earn a high school diploma and an Associate's degree. LPSS and SLCC agree that ECA can grow to 1,000 students with added space in the new building.
The college is currently raising money for a required state match to fund the construction. The total estimated cost of the new building is $17 million.