WCCD Awarded $2.9 Million Grant to Establish Wiregrass Center for Rural Healthcare Opportunities at Dale Medical Center - Wallace Community College

WCCD Awarded $2.9 Million Grant to Establish Wiregrass Center for Rural Healthcare Opportunities at Dale Medical Center

Wallace Community College-Dothan (WCCD) has been awarded a $2.9 million grant from the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) as part of the Alabama Centers for Rural Healthcare Opportunity legislative appropriation. This grant will facilitate the establishment of the Wiregrass Center for Rural Healthcare Opportunities on the campus of Dale Medical Center in Ozark, Alabama.

The Wiregrass Center for Rural Healthcare Opportunities (the Center) is poised to make a significant impact in the Dale County area by serving as a career and workforce development hub for the high-demand healthcare professions of licensed practical nursing (LPN) and mental health technician (MHT), moving students from the earliest stages of healthcare career exploration through completion of a healthcare training program, successful certification/licensure to work in-field, and on to successful employment with a local rural healthcare employer. The Center is a community-wide collaboration between the College, multiple healthcare providers, multiple high schools, local government, and local and regional workforce/economic developers.

“Wallace Community College is proud to lead the way in expanding healthcare training and reducing worker shortages in the Wiregrass,” said Dr. Linda C. Young, WCCD President. “With the funding of the innovative Wiregrass Center for Rural Health Opportunities at Dale County Medical Center in Ozark, residents of the greater Dale County and adjacent counties will be able to earn healthcare credentials and begin a healthcare career pathway closer to home.”

“Every healthcare provider in our region has depended on Wallace Community College to train our workforce over the years,” said Vernon Johnson, Dale Medical Center Chief Executive Officer. “When we had the opportunity to join forces with Wallace Community College to provide an on-site training program for Nurses and Certified Mental Health Technicians, we jumped at this opportunity.  Through this joint effort between WCCD and DMC, we are expanding our existing partnership of developing and training a healthcare workforce that will benefit not only DMC but the entire Wiregrass Region.”

The Center will focus on alleviating shortages of licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and mental health technicians currently in high demand in the greater Dale County area. WCCD intends to offer its Practical Nursing (PN) program and the Mental Health Technician (MHT) program at the Center. Coursework that prepares students for the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) credential is embedded in both the PN and MHT curriculum and enables students to begin working in the healthcare field before graduation. The College will work directly with partner healthcare providers to match students up-front with employer sponsors for scholarships, internships, and job offers.

The Center will also function as a career pathways hub, raising awareness not just about licensed practical nursing (LPN) and mental health technician (MHT) roles, but also other healthcare professions while promoting local healthcare training and employment opportunities.

“Each of the health programs offered by Wallace Community College strives to prepare its students with state-of-the-art instruction and real-world clinical experiences to allow them to successfully fill the critical healthcare vacancies that exist in the Wiregrass and Tri-States areas,” said Kathy Buntin, WCCD Associate Dean of Health Sciences. “Creating a base of instruction at Dale Medical Center will allow us to reach even more residents in nearby communities, as well as high school students in the Dale County area, with educational opportunities that will allow them to join us in our mission.  We look forward to working with potential health sciences students and our healthcare partners in this venture.”