Great Basin College works to make their new Health Sciences Facility a reality

gbc-health-sciences-bldgGreat Basin College works to make their new Health Sciences Facility a reality

Great Basin College’s (GBC) nursing students may soon be given an entirely new 13,500 square feet building in which to learn their trade. The Pennington Foundation has pledged a 5 million dollar grant for the construction of a Health Sciences Building designed by Lombard-Conrad Architects – Nevada. The only catch is, the community will need to raise $2 million in matching funds in the next 18 months.

New GBC President, Joyce Helens gave the announcement at a meet and greet held in late October.

“It’s exciting that we would open opportunities and access for anyone who wants to come,” Helens said.

In the not-too-distant past, nursing students had to travel to Elko for their lessons. This, Helens said, was dangerous in the winter months and created a barrier to those with families.

In recent years, the nursing program has been taught largely via distance education. The new building would host the bulky equipment needed to teach nurses. Currently, the nursing students are hosted in two classrooms at the GBC Winnemucca campus. Humboldt General Hospital began hosting classes once a second group enrolled, according to Amber Donnelli, Dean of Health Science and Human Services at GBC. The successful program has outgrown its space.

“We’re filled to the max. This building will definitely give us the opportunity to continue that progression and growth that we so sorely need,” Lisa Campbell, Director of the Winnemucca campus, said.

GBC’s nursing students take the National Council Licensure Exam each year. According to a recent press release, 100 percent of GBC’s nursing graduates have passed this exam in the past five years. It is the only Nevada nursing program to accomplish this goal for five consecutive years. “It’s unheard-of,” Helens said.

Helens’ goal is not to recruit more nursing students, but rather, to provide for the needs of those already enrolled. “You don’t build the building first,” Helens said, “We know we’re at capacity… we’re beyond capacity.” Still, she believed that more students would likely enroll and that the new building would contribute to the economic success of the area.

“When you look at today’s world, higher education is really the only answer. When we’re able to grow this kind of success locally, then we know that people will stay here and work here and then the community grows even stronger,” Helens said.

The Health Sciences Building would give needed space to nursing students and would also host the college’s Electrical System Technology program. The college only hosts these programs during the day, so Campbell suggested that the large space could also be used for adult education or events at night.

Mayor Di An Putnam attended the event and said she was excited about the prospect of a new facility. “It will do wonders for this community,” she said. “With the hospital that we have, I cannot imagine a better educational tool to go along with it and to build that.”

Putnam did not know if it was feasible for the city to spend taxpayer funds to contribute to the match. However, Putnam told The Sun she’d encourage City Council members to give to the projects themselves, as she planned to do.

Hospital staffers, GBC professors, representatives from Lowry High School, GBC students and members of the community and press came to the event. Two members of the Nevada Board of Regents, Kathy McAdoo and Carol Del Carlo, were in attendance, as well.

Donnelli said, “The Pennington Foundation has been very good to Great Basin College.”

For GBC, keeping education local is vital to keeping small communities vibrant. Both Donnelli and Helens emphasized the need for smaller communities to offer education to locals, which they say is key to success. “We want to grow this here. We want this for your community,” she said.

“Now we’re reaching out to businesses and the community. Help us contribute to this project and build this GBC project, here,” Donnelli said.

“We have 18 months. We start now,” Helens said.