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Rogue Valley's new hub for health care education

A $21.25 million building under construction in White City will become the hub for health care classes in the Rogue Valley.

The new Health Professions Center is taking shape on Rogue Community College’s Table Rock campus.

“We’re really excited about the opportunities we’re going to be able to offer to students in Southern Oregon,” said Teri Smith, dean of instruction for RCC’s School of Health and Public Service.

Nursing classes that are spread out across three locations in Jackson and Josephine counties will shift to the state-of-the-art 35,648-square-foot building.

The new Health Professions Center also will house classes for dental assisting, dental hygiene, basic health care certification, medical assisting, medical administrative assisting, medical coding, pharmacy technician, phlebotomy and sterile processing technician.

Courses range from 11 weeks for phlebotomists, who draw patients’ blood, to two-year associate’s degree programs for nursing, Smith said.

“We all know that health care is the fastest growing sector in Southern Oregon, and we’re partnering with industry leaders to bring the best in training,” she said. “We all want well-trained health care providers — and this is going to contribute to that effort.”

Smith said many health care jobs offer living wages plus benefits.

Even before new graduates walk out the door, the Health Professions Center is spurring the local economy.

Ashland-based Adroit Construction is the main contractor on the project, aided by a broad range of local subcontractors.

Dozens of workers are on the job on any given day, including excavators, carpenters, drywall installers, plumbers, electricians, siding contractors, roofers, flooring installers and asphalt spreaders, said John Gilbert, supervisor for Adroit Construction.

He said it feels good to work on a project that will in turn create solid jobs for other community members.

“We’ve worked hand-in-hand with RCC on this project, and it’s something this valley needed,” Gilbert said.

The architecture firms for the project are Portland-based Hennebery Eddy Architects and Kistler+Small+White in Ashland.

The project was made possible in 2016 when voters in Jackson and Josephine counties approved a $20 million bond for construction and improvements of RCC facilities.

Workers broke ground in March 2019 on the Health Professions Center.

Smith said thanks to Adroit, the project manager and workers, the building is on track and under budget. Construction likely will finish in late June or early July.

“Then we’ll start moving in all the equipment,” Smith said.

Classrooms and training areas will be ready for students in the fall term of this year, she said.

Funding for the building includes $11.7 million from the voter-approved bonds, $8 million in grant funding from the state of Oregon and more than $650,000 in donations to the RCC Foundation.

Additionally, 30 donors have given more than $750,000 worth of equipment for use in the Health Professions Center, said Grant Walker, RCC director of marketing and public information.

“Bond funds only pay for the building. With their generosity, we can bring some high tech teaching equipment such as virtual reality training,” he said.

Smith said RCC relies on industry advisory boards to offer guidance on what training and skills students need to succeed in the workplace.

The Health Professions Center will offer the latest technology, equipment and training, she said.

“Our industry partners tell us constantly that they need more people. They need well-trained, industry-ready folks,” Smith said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Construction crews work on the Rogue Community College Health Professions Center in White City on Tuesday.{ }Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune