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Wallace-Dothan Names Health Science Building In Honor of Heersink Family

2/13/2019

Dothan, Ala. – Wallace Community College – Dothan (WCCD) announces the naming of the Health Science Building as the Heersink Family Health Science Building. The building, opened in January 2017, is home to the College’s Health Science programs.

Dothan physician Dr. Marnix E. Heersink has practiced medicine in Dothan since 1978. Dr. Heersink and his family recently donated $1.1 million to Wallace Community College in support of current and future students. The funds will establish Endowed Scholarships and support the Health Science programs.

“The Heersink Family Health Science Building is a place where students come searching for a career and graduate with a family of like-minded, caring professionals,” said Dr. Linda C. Young, Wallace Community College-Dothan president. “The Heersink family’s gift will make such a difference in students’ lives and we are extremely grateful for their generosity and recognition of the high-quality learning environment this building affords.”

Wallace-Dothan has previously benefitted from Dr. Heersink’s expertise through his initiating a partnership with the Ophthalmic Assistant program offered through the College’s Workforce Development Division 15 years ago.

Dr. Heersink graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. degree and an M.D. degree from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. After completing his residency and a Fellowship in cataract surgery and intraocular lens implantation at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Heersink relocated to Dothan to practice surgical ophthalmology.

“When we came to Dothan as a newly married couple, Mary and I were immediately warmly welcomed by the community and we have always felt at home here,” remarked Dr. Heersink. “While we were expecting our first child in 1980, Mary took an EMT course in 1980 at Wallace Community College and so we learned early on that the training and education that students receive at Wallace is critically important for Dothan and surrounding communities.  It is now our privilege to help students learn so that they may provide much needed healthcare services to all of us who live here.”

The Heersink Family Health Science Building houses Wallace’s seven health science programs, including Associate Degree Nursing, Practical Nursing, Emergency Medical Services, Medical Assisting, Physical Therapist Assistant, Radiologic Technology, and Respiratory Therapist. In fall 2019, Wallace-Dothan plans to add a Surgical Technology program. Practical Nursing, which started in 1952 with 15 students, was the first Health Science program at Wallace-Dothan. The Health Sciences Simulation Center, home to one of the largest collections of high-fidelity human patient simulators in the Southeast, is also located in the building.

The 100,000 square foot, three-story facility has a significant impact on the healthcare workforce in the area. About 40%, or 1860, of Wallace-Dothan students are health science or pre-health science majors, which translates into constant activity in the building. The fall 2018 credit enrollment for students accepted into the seven health science programs was 918. During the 2017-2018 academic year, 397 health science students graduated and transitioned to their careers in healthcare, with many remaining in the Wiregrass.

Many area employers depend on the steady stream of trained healthcare professionals who graduate every semester. “Wallace-Dothan plays a critical role in the continued success of the healthcare industry in Southeast Alabama,” said Mrs. Suzanne Woods, Chief Executive Officer of Medical Center Enterprise. “We are fortunate to have the College’s health science programs to provide both educational opportunities and a well-trained workforce.”

Wallace-Dothan recognizes this facility as a place to celebrate the College’s distinguished healthcare education history and to focus on teaching new generations the importance of good health. Each spring, hundreds of area elementary school students descend on the Heersink Family Health Science Building for the weeklong Sim Clinic. Faculty, staff, and students dress up as their favorite superhero and demonstrate to their small pupils how to be healthy. The next Sim Clinic is scheduled for March.

The College will hold another event later this spring, this one to celebrate the properly named Heersink Family Health Science Building.  

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