ICC health building opens today

Adam Robison | Daily Journal Harold Plunkett goes over some the technology inside the new nurses training classroom.

Adam Robison | Daily Journal
Harold Plunkett goes over some the technology inside the new nurses training classroom.

By Chris Kieffer
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Itawamba Community College’s new health building is ready for visitors.

The school will host an open house in the new facility on its Tupelo campus today from 3 to 7 p.m. The public is invited to visit, and staff members will be available to show them around the $20 million building.

Although some classes were held there this summer, it will receive its first full load of students when classes begin Aug. 19.

“We are extremely proud,” said ICC President Mike Eaton.

The Health Science Education Building will cluster eight health programs under one roof and locate them in Tupelo, near North Mississippi Medical Center, where students do most of their clinical rotations.

The associate’s degree nursing, health information technology, occupational therapy assistant, practical nursing, physical therapy assistant, radiology, respiratory therapy and surgical technology programs all will be in the building.

Previously those programs were split between the Tupelo and Fulton campuses. The paramedic program will remain on the Belden campus.

It will allow for some convenient space sharing and will create opportunities for interdisciplinary training. For example, the simulation lab might allow students in different programs to work together in a clinical scenario.

ICC Health Sciences Dean Harold Plunkett said there could be opportunities for an interdisciplinary capstone in the future.

“You may go two years and never interact with a different profession,” Plunkett said. “That is something we want to change, and having everyone under one roof would change that. We are tickled to death about the possibilities.”

Being close to the hospital also will allow for more flexibility in clinical rotations, Plunkett said, noting it would be easier to schedule classes on the same day as a half-day spent in the field.

“It creates opportunities we’ve never had before,” he said. “Being close to the hospital is big, whether it is a new building or not.”

The facility features much new equipment. The nursing program, for example, will have a second lab of 12 beds, allowing students to work at each station in smaller groups. Respiratory therapy’s lab will go from one station to four, and radiology added a new X-ray machine, among many examples of new technology.

The building has three conference rooms: two smaller ones that will better accommodate faculty meetings and other gatherings and a large one that can seat 150 to 200 people. That room could be used by outside groups, Plunkett said, and could even allow the school to host different medical conventions.

There will be six computer labs, an important feature since many board examinations are moving to online tests, Plunkett said. Some classrooms also will have computers.

“With the location and the facility, we’ve tried to take the training to another level,” Eaton said.

The building’s $20 million cost includes the price of its equipment. The college launched a capital campaign to cover the cost but also needed to use money from the ICC Foundation funds to pay for it. Eaton said it continues to raise funds to replenish foundation money for scholarships and other needs of the college.

“We hope with the open house, people will view that and maybe there will be another surge of interest and people will be interested in giving to the campaign,” Eaton said.

An official dedication will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 10.

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com