Three Rivers, hospital work on nursing facility

Friday, October 1, 2010

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Three Rivers Community College will return to its roots in downtown Poplar Bluff for the spring semester.

Construction is underway on a nursing and health sciences center in Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center's South Campus on Pine Street through a five-year lease agreement with the hospital at an annual cost of $1.

With external funding secured over the past year, a portion of the facility has been retrofitted with $300,000 earmarked from the Caring for Missourians initiative, and $577,000 from the Missouri Department of Economic Development under Gov. Jay Nixon's Training for Tomorrow initiative will be used to establish a simulated hospital setting.

"It's a perfect example of a partnership between all levels of government, the private sector and higher education in work-force development to strengthen the economy of this region," Three Rivers president Dr. Devin Stephenson said.

Moving its nursing and allied health program out of Rutland Library could play well into the city's downtown revitalization efforts, bringing 120 to 150 students to the area each day, according to Stephenson.

Besides hiring hundreds of Three Rivers graduates since an associate degree in nursing was first offered in 1971, the hospital has contributed $380,000 to the community college, helping to double the capacity of the program for the past five years, according to officials.

The first floor of the eastern tower will be designated for allied health, with surgical technology, medical laboratory technology and emergency medical services classrooms and future space for physical therapy assistance, according to Kim Shackleford, Three Rivers director of nursing education and division chairwoman of health and human services.

In addition, there will be computer labs, faculty offices and a low-fidelity mannequin room.

Seven simulated patients will be set up in operating rooms on the second floor, along with a virtual IV simulator, explained Staci Campbell, Three Rivers sim lab coordinator, who helped develop the new curriculum model, training with front-line medics.

A grand entrance for students will be built to face Pine Street, with parking on Sixth Street. The western wing, which contains PBRMC's infusion and wound center, as well as acute psychiatric services, will not be affected, Carda said.

Dille & Traxel, the local architectural firm selected to complete Three Rivers' master plan, worked closely with contractor CE Norton of Poplar Bluff to keep PBRMC's South campus -- built in 1979 -- up to code, so the number of hospital beds would not be compromised.

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