By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Neither frosty weather nor a difficult economy have kept Itawamba Community College from moving forward with construction on its new Health Science building.
As a cold wind made the hundred community college supporters shiver Friday morning, ICC President David Cole and local and state dignitaries formally shoveled red clay to mark the construction of the $15.8 million building on ICC’s Tupelo campus.
The center, which is already under construction, will contribute to both the economic health of the region and the physical well-being of its people.
“When you look at the economic impact that health care has in our region,” Cole said, “it’s absolutely necessary that licensed allied health professionals be able to meet the needs of this region.”
The building, which is slated for completion in December 2012, will allow all of the eight Allied Health programs to be under the same roof and close to their primary clinical training site – North Mississippi Medical Center.
The building is designed to allow flexibility and collaboration of the allied health programs. There’s room for between 20 and 25 percent growth in the future.
“We’re looking 20-30 years down the road,” said Harold Plunkett, dean of the health sciences program.
The design of the center fits well with a shift in the medical model to more team-based health care where providers will collaborate to take care of patients, said Dr. Ed Hill, director of the NMMC Family Medicine Residency Center. Training those medical professionals together in the same place and environment will foster better working relationships in the future.
“There’s real opportunity to see these team grow in Northeast Mississippi,” said Hill, who with Harry Martin and David Rumbarger are co-chairing the HEALTH campaign.
Despite the tough economic times, ICC has already secured $2 million in donations for its $8 million, three-year capital campaign – the largest capital campaign conducted by a Mississippi community college. Well over half of the ICC faculty are participating in the campaign.
Prior to the $8 million capital campaign even starting, ICC had raised about $7 million – through a $2 million pledge from the Gilmore Foundations, grants and unannounced gifts. Currently they have about $6 million more to raise.
“This project serves as an investment in our future in our students and in the health of Northeast Mississippi,” said Chuck Howell, chairman of the ICC Foundation board of directors.