A new educational center in Knoxville will train students to work in numerous positions, supporting Tennessee’s healthcare workforce.
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Roane State Community College and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Knoxville broke ground on the Knox Regional Health Science Education Center during a ceremony on Aug. 1st. Several lawmakers and healthcare leaders spoke at the ceremony, including Sen. Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville).
“The [workforce] need is greater than ever,” Briggs said. “And this facility, which is an amazing state-of-the-art facility, will be part of training people to meet that need.”
The 130,000-square-foot facility will be located on the Covenant Health Campus at 9575 Sherrill Blvd. in Knoxville. It will replace Roane State’s Knox County Center for Health Sciences. Construction is slated to begin on the new facility later this summer. Jim Vandersteeg, president and CEO of Covenant Health, discussed the investment the organization is making in the colleges through the project.
“We’re making an investment in the future of these colleges. We’re making an investment in the future of our organization [and] all the healthcare organizations in this community. We’re making a huge investment in the lives of individuals who will take these jobs, who will pay taxes, and [do] all the great stuff that great workers do, and become a productive part of our community.”
Covenant Health donated the 10-acre parcel of land the new center will be built on.
“The donated land, valued at nearly $10 million, is where we stand today,” Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) member Danni Varlan said. “And it is the largest private gift in Roane State’s 53-year history.”
The new facility will house Roane State nursing, emergency medical services, polysomnography, and respiratory therapy programs. The college will add cardiovascular technology, healthcare administration, and public health programs that will be housed in the new facility as well.
TCAT Knoxville’s health science programs (dental assisting, phlebotomy, and surgical technology) will also be housed at the new center.
Dick Tracy, executive director of facilities development at the TBR, also spoke during the ceremony.
“We have a public community college, a technical college, a prestigious regional health system, [and] state and local government all working together to establish the regional health science education center that will train nurses, (emergency medical technicians), therapists, healthcare administrators, as well as dental and medical assistants.”
The first level of the new building will accommodate spaces shared by Roane State and TCAT Knoxville. It will include a 10,000-square-foot simulation center that will include an emergency department, ambulance bay, and electronic medical record workstation. It will include operating, intensive care unit, medication, and decontamination rooms.
The simulation center will also feature multipurpose rooms that can be set up as apartments, exam rooms, or surgical suites to help provide students with real-world scenarios that elevate their training.
“Many of these students are like many of you and me,” Dr. Lynn Massingale, co-founder of TeamHealth, said. “They are first generation college students. And they have to be the best we could possibly find. And facilities like this, right across the street from the hospital, I think will help us recruit those folks better.”
The project’s preliminary timeline has the new center slated to open in fall 2025. Gov. Bill Lee’s 2022-2023 budget included $67.5 million in state funding for the new center. The project is estimated to cost $75 million, and the Roane State Foundation is launching a capital fundraising campaign to help raise funds for it.