Columbia Basin College is seeking to expand its health care programs in central Richland with a new four-story building and a $3 million donation from Kadlec Regional Medical Center will aid the effort.
The new building, with an estimated price tag of $16.1 million, would be built kitty-corner from CBC's health sciences center on Northgate Drive, officials said. The college's board will vote on the project during a retreat Friday, and, if approved, construction could begin in a year.
The new building will have two floors dedicated to Kadlec's new residency program, which begins next year and for which the hospital will pay a 20-year lease. CBC will use at least one floor for its health care training programs.
The State Board of Community and Technical Colleges must sign off on the project. The college will use two non-voted bonds worth as much as $17 million total to pay for the bulk of the construction costs, said Bill Saraceno, CBC vice president of administration.
Construction could take 15 to 16 months. "It depends on how we put the building together," he said.
Though CBC and hospital officials said their partnership has been beneficial to each other, they emphasized that this new project will further bolster the overall health care work force.
"This is really about the entire region, not just Kadlec," said Kadlec President and CEO Rand Wortman. "The Tri-Cities is becoming a net exporter of nurses."
The health sciences center opened in fall 2006 and Kadlec provided $2 million for that project. The four-story building is home to more than a dozen programs, such as nursing, phlebotomy and nuclear medicine, and almost 500 students. Kadlec also maintains offices on the top floor of the building.
"It was full almost immediately," said CBC President Rich Cummins.
Hospital and college officials said they have spoken for years about the need for a second building. Kadlec's merger with Providence Health & Services, announced two months ago, was partly driven by the hospital's desire to have capital funding for projects such as this, Wortman said. CBC paid about $450,000 for the two acres needed for the building earlier this year.
The retirement of baby boomers and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has created a shortage of nurses and other health care professionals nationwide, college and hospital officials said.
CBC and Washington State University Tri-Cities now produce many of the region's nurses, but Mid-Columbia hospitals were in a similar predicament 14 years ago, Wortman said. Kadlec was paying $3 million a year above salaries to bring in traveling nurses to meet the needs of its growing services.
Now Kadlec and CBC's partnership has led to a more stable and familiar work force for all the region's hospitals while the college's students benefit from access to training and internships within the hospital system.
"It's really the essence of a community college," Cummins said.
College also weighs other building project
Columbia Basin College's board will vote Friday whether to move forward with construction on a new 55,000-square-foot building for its language and social sciences programs.
College officials have sought to build the new building for years. The State Board of Community and Technical Colleges approved the $21.5 million project earlier this year, though the Legislature will need to provide most of the money needed. The college and CBC Foundation would contribute about $6 million.
The building would have 10 classrooms and 16 offices, college documents stated. It will be on the north end of campus between Saraceno Way and the CH2M Hill Technology Center.
The departments that will move to the new building have most of their offices in the L Building, which also houses CBC's library. They use classrooms throughout the campus. A central building for the departments would give professors the space they need and to spend less time getting to classes, officials have said.
Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2015.
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