The COVID-19 pandemic shed light on the needs in the health care field, and Piedmont Technical College is helping fill those needs with a renovation and expansion project of its health care education facilities in Greenwood.
The school received $6.8 million in state funding to renovate and expand the facilities.
“COVID, I would say, if it did anything positive, it was our reminder that we needed to make sure that we had top of the line technology and training for all of our health science students,” said Hope Rivers, president of Piedmont Technical College.
Rivers mentioned that the college plays a large role in creating health science graduates.
“I won’t take all the points, but we have about 300 (health science) graduates every year … and we knew that we needed to get really, really serious about making sure that those graduates leave Piedmont Tech with everything they need to be successful and I think the pandemic kind of, as I said before, illuminated that fact,” Rivers said.
Tara Gonce, the college’s health care dean, said the health care program is like a mini hospital with all its programs — nursing, respiratory therapy, radiology, etc.
The new renovation, she said, will give the college more opportunities to show students that health care is a multidisciplinary approach and that’s what occurs in a hospital.
“It’s very important for them to have that aspect, that I’m not just a nurse or I’m not just a respiratory therapist or I’m not just a radiology technician, I am part of that patient care,” Gonce said.
The project will also provide new equipment for programs that increasingly use simulation to allow students to get hands-on experience.
“What we’re trying to do here at Piedmont in general is make sure that when you leave whatever program that might be here on our campus, when you walk in to that real world environment that you are comfortable because you’ve kind of seen it before,” Rivers said.
The project will also create a draw for students to choose Piedmont Tech.
The school is also answering a call for more EMS first responders with its first responder center of excellence. The plan is to renovate existing buildings and create a place for first responders like EMTs, paramedics, fire science students to learn and have simulations in one place, as well as draw people already in the field for more training.
Rivers said Piedmont Tech answered the call for certain fields of workers from advanced manufacturers in the seven-county area with the O’Dell Upstate Center for Manufacturing Excellence.
The health sciences and first responder projects will do the same.