In the age of COVID-19, there is nothing more important than maintaining social distancing and keeping our health care and other front line workers as safe as possible so they may continue to render care to each of us.
BridgeValley Community and Technical College’s nursing and healthcare students, who are working hard to learn to practice telemedicine, are the future of the front line. Without our nurses, phlebotomists, medical assistants, and emergency medical personnel, think of where West Virginia would be today. It is our social and moral duty to protect these individuals, especially in extraordinary times such as these.
Telemedicine, which involves virtual appointments, virtual clinics, and remote hospital rooms, is the low-cost and socially distanced solution to West Virginia’s healthcare needs. BridgeValley is Charleston’s telemedicine pioneer.
This is one of the most pressing reasons why BridgeValley must move its campus to the proposed Stone and Thomas building. The current facilities are falling short for our students — there is no room to grow and lab space is extremely limited. Moreover, Building 2000 at the Regional Technology Park is unsuitable because, at present, only a maximum of two simulations can be run at any given time, causing limited functionality and extended wait time for students.
The move to downtown Charleston alleviates these issues. Students and the program would be co-located among the bustling healthcare center that is the city. Students would be able to interact with real healthcare professionals and facilities and gain real-world experience. The effects of this move will reverberate beyond the college to all of the Upper Kanawha area and we will all reap the benefits of a more highly-educated and highly-trained medical workforce.
According to the 2019 report prepared by America’s Health Rankings, West Virginia ranks an abysmal 45th in overall health compared to the rest of the nation. It is clear: we need top-tier healthcare and we will not have that without highly-trained individuals. If we care about our people we must support this move.
According to a study of performance and learning outcomes of 80 school facilities in Virginia, researchers found that the quality of school facilities directly impacts overall student achievement. If we fail to invest in our students, then we will feel the failure of our healthcare system in the future.
The Upper Kanawha Valley community believes in BridgeValley, as it is one of the only schools in West Virginia with increasing enrollment numbers. After a dip in enrollment, BridgeValley has come back to be one of the fastest-growing colleges in the country. Current enrollment numbers are outstanding in an era in which many colleges across the country are suffering drastic decreases. This is due to the college’s ability to work with its communities and business and industry partners and respond to their immediate needs for a trained workforce. They work closely with their university partners to prepare students to transfer for bachelor degree completion.
BridgeValley is affordable yet the education received is priceless. It is critical that we support the college’s move to downtown Charleston so it can continue to provide the best in healthcare training and ensure our communities remain healthy and vibrant.
Author: Sally Cline, BridgeValley Board Chairman
President, West Virginia Bankers Association