Lack of space might be preventing some of the programs offered by Roane State Community College from reaching its full potential.
“We have great health science programs,” President Chris Whaley said. “The problem is not in quality, the problem is in quantity. We just can’t produce enough in the facilities that we’re currently in.”
The Knox Regional Health Science and Simulation Center could be the solution to the problem. The yet to be built facility will be located across the street from Parkwest Medical Center in West Knoxville. Covenant Health, which operates Parkwest, is donating the 10 acres of land to Roane State. The value of the land is $10 million, which is a record-breaking donation to Roane State.
“The significance of Covenant’s gift is more than I will probably be able to articulate,” Whaley said. “It is the largest gift in the history of the college.”
Whaley, Covenant Health President and CEO Jim VanderSteeg and other officials recognized the historic gift during a celebration at Parkwest on Friday.
“I’m excited today to take this next step in Covenant’s donation of land to build this new center,” VanderSteeg said.
The new facility is expected to cost around $75 million with 67.5 million coming from the state of Tennessee. The Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Knoxville is also a partner in the project.
“Working together I really think gives projects a lot more strength,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said.
The remaining $7.5 million for the center is expected to come from funds raised through the Roane State Foundation.
“More details will be coming about that in the next weeks and months,” Whaley said.
Roane State’s current Knox County facility is around 16,000 square feet.
“We are literally teaching out of closets in some places,” Whaley said.
Not having enough room is holding the college’s health science programs back, according to Whaley.
“We can’t expand,” Whaley said. “We can’t grow our nursing program. We can’t expand our EMT/Paramedic program. We knew a long time ago we were going to need additional space. We were going to need to build.”
The Knox Regional Health Science and Simulation Center will have approximately 130,000 square feet.
“It’s going to be unique in many, many ways in that a significant part of this center is a simulation laboratory, and what that will allow to occur is that students will actually be able to experience what their real world is going to look like whenever they’re in a clinic or in a hospital,” VanderSteeg said.
Whaley said it was important for the college that the facility be located in West Knoxville.
“We got the appropriation (from the state), but then you think about where are we going to build, because we desperately need to stay here in West Knoxville,” he said. “Where are we ever going to be able to find enough property, property that we can afford without having to take so much money away from the project.”
That didn’t become an issue thanks to Covenant’s gift.
“This gift is literally and figuratively the foundation of the Knox Regional Health Science and Simulation Center,” Whaley said.
VanderSteeg said the Knox Regional Health Science and Simulation Center should help the region meet its healthcare needs in the future.
“Whether you need care today, you’re going to need it at some point in time,” he said. “The fact that we can continue to grow a high quality workforce that cares about the right things is a benefit to all of us. I’m so excited.”
Whaley said a ground breaking at the future site of the Knox Regional Health Science and Simulation Center will be held in the coming weeks.