Northwestern Medical Center, the Community College of Vermont and Vermont Technical College are teaming up to attack a nursing shortage in the St. Albans area. They hope to begin training more new nurses in the heart of downtown St. Albans by next September, and they’re going to use a new $8 million building to do it.
“It’s not only about the hospital — it’s home health; it’s long-term care, public health,” Northwestern Medical Center CEO Jill Berry Bowen said. “We’re partnering with education centers to be able to bring a nursing program here to allow local folks to get local education and provide care to their own community.”
The new building should help Vermont Tech boost its nursing enrollment in northwest Vermont, which the school’s associate dean of nursing, Sarah Billings-Berg, said NMC officials recently asked it to do. “Currently, we have nine practical nursing students and 18 associate degree students in the area, and we’re hoping to increase our numbers to 27 and 27,” she said.
Billings-Berg says a high-fidelity simulation lab will be part of the new space, which in her words, “really enhances nursing education, giving students the opportunity to apply skills and knowledge they’ve learned before they actually apply it to real patients.”
However, the new facility won’t only be used for nursing education. CCV will move its entire St. Albans campus there. It has more than 400 students this semester, and that St. Albans enrollment figure is only expected to grow. “We currently offer 50 classes a semester; we’ll be increasing that, especially our lab programs,” CCV president Joyce Judy said. “We have just a huge demand for science labs.”
The new building will be going up directly across the street from St. Albans City Hall as part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the downtown area. “Watching what is happening in St. Albans is very fun, and the residents of St. Albans should be very proud of what they’re creating,” Judy said.
The ground floor of the three-story structure will be set aside for retail space. CCV will take up the second floor and the hospital will use the top floor.