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Weekend edition January 27, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Covenant, Roane State, TCAT come together for new student training facility

Covenant Health gifted 10 acres of land to Roane State and TCAT to build the new Knox Regional Health Science and Simulation Center.

Any hospital will tell you there’s a nursing shortage, and several health leaders in Knoxville are coming together to change that.

On Friday, Covenant Health officially donated 10 acres of land at its Parkwest Medical Center campus to Roane State Community College. The land will hold the new Knox Regional Health Science and Simulation Center, which will help double the enrollment of the school’s registered nursing program. The land, valued at an estimated $10 million, is the largest-ever gift of philanthropy given to Roane State.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to donate the land for the new health science and simulation center, which will bring innovative resources to a greater number of students and prepare them for success in their healthcare careers,” said Jim VanderSteeg, Covenant Health President and Chief Executive Officer. “Educating the healthcare professionals of tomorrow is a vital part of caring for our communities, so this is truly a perfect partnership for Covenant Health.”

The vision for the health science and simulation center is focused on creating dynamic spaces where instructors can provide comprehensive simulations of the work students will be doing when they graduate. As proposed, the facility would have 130,000 square feet in total, with at least 11,000 square feet devoted to the simulation center.

The center will replace Roane State’s current Knox County Center for Health Sciences – a 16,000-square-foot campus located on Hayfield Road in West Knoxville – and will be the new home of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Knoxville’s health science programs.

“This gift is both literally and figuratively the foundation of this state-of-the-art facility which is critically needed in East Tennessee,” said  Chris Whaley, President of Roane State. “Because of this tremendous donation, we will be able to increase the number of students accepted into our nationally accredited programs, add new specialized courses, and provide a one-of-a-kind educational experience that prepares students for the real world.”

On January 31, 2022, Governor Bill Lee presented his 2022-23 budget proposal, which included $67,500,000 in state funding for the Knox Regional Health Science and Simulation Center. Roane State is expected to provide at least a $7,500,000 campus match and is kicking off a capital fundraising campaign to meet that goal. The total estimated dollar amount for the project is $75,000,000, which includes previous funding of $1,000,000 appropriated in fiscal year 2021-22 for the preliminary design phase.

Roane State and TCAT Knoxville hope to break ground on the new facility soon. Preliminary project timeline estimates have the Knox Regional Health Science and Simulation Center set to open for students in 2025.

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