Wallace-Dothan granted $2.9 million towards new medical training center

DALE COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — $2.9 million has been granted to Wallace Community College-Dothan to help establish the Wiregrass Center for Rural Healthcare Opportunities on the campus of Dale Medical Center in Ozark

“Well, when we got the news that the grant went through I will tell you we were extremely excited,” CEO of Dale Medical Center, Vernon Johnson said.

A center that will focus on training and developing students in the practical nursing program and the mental health technician program.

“Those two specialties are in dire need in our local health care facilities,” Associate Dean of Health Sciences at Wallace-Dothan, Kathy Buntin said.

“Both are professions that we struggle with daily filling,” Johnson said.

That need for those positions in health care has remained since the COVID-19 pandemic and officials hope this creates more opportunities for incoming students.

Instilling training and future job opportunities that will grow the medical field and fully staff facilities across the Tri-State.

“It will also provide more healthcare workers for our skill facilities in other counties, in our local area, as well as the healthcare facilities that these individuals, who are trained, will eventually work in,” Buntin said.

While also bringing in the younger generation to give them a look inside the medical field.

“For the students in the Dale County and Ozark City School Systems to get academic preparation for a career in health care education,” Buntin said.

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The center will not be ready to go this fall, but after substantive changes are made with the accreditation program, approval to offer the programs is given, and some renovations on Dale Medical Center’s campus are made. The center could be ready to welcome students by the start of 2025.

“We expect to start construction and get that stuff underway by this summer,” Johnson said. “If everything lines up perfectly, I would be so excited to enroll our first class on the first of the year.”

The renovations include adding another classroom, a skills lab, a computer lab, and office spaces.

The grant came from the Alabama Community College System as part of the Alabama Centers for Rural Healthcare Opportunity legislative appropriation.

Wallace-Dothan’s application are open for the fall and can be found here.

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