NMJC celebrates new Allied Health Building
Nursing students at New Mexico Junior College are officially housed in a new building after NMJC president Kelvin Sharp and director of nursing education Misty Stine cut the ceremonial yellow ribbon at the front entrance to the school on Thursday.
Pat Chappelle, president of the NMJC board, praised the Lea County community for its support of the college and its support of the nursing school.
“The nursing school has been one of our programs since the school was founded in the mid ‘60’s,” Chappelle said. “We’ve known for years that we needed a new building. We were turning away qualified applicants every year. What you’ll see today is the result of planning and dreaming. It started when we got a $4 million grant.”
The rest of the $10.5 million cost of the building was funded through New Mexico General Obligation Bonds, mill levy funds and severance tax bonds, according to the college.
Chappelle also thanked, David Shaw, CEO of Nor-Lea Hospital, for the hospital’s donation of $300,000 that funded part of the state of the art equipment installed at the school.
The new building replaced overcrowded classrooms that featured equipment from the last century and learning labs that sometimes were little more than tables and chairs set up in rooms that were originally designed to accommodate regular academic classes.
As people began the tours that started after the short ribbon cutting ceremony, one of the first things they saw was a sketch of a human heart. The sketch, in a lobby designed to be an open space to promote collaboration and interaction among students, covers an entire wall. The lobby is surrounded by glass walls and furnished with modern tables and chairs as well as a reception desk.
The building, 24,600 square feet, contains classrooms that will accommodate 64 students, skills labs that contain 20 beds for student teaching, practice and testing. Each of the beds is filled with a mannikin that is suffering a real-life illness like a stroke, heart issues or pregnancy. Some of the mannikins speak to students about their symptoms, giving the student nurses an opportunity to provide hands-on care.
In addition, there are four simulation labs equipped with mannikins who present life-or-death emergencies for students to deal with.
Students are debriefed by their instructors after the simulations so they can see whether they made errors and if they did, how to correct them.
Among the more than 100 people who attended the open house were Donna Fletcher, who graduated from NMJC’s nursing school and her daughter, Teresa Landrum, who graduated from the program in 2006.
Fletcher said from the time she was a little girl, she wanted to be a nurse.
“People would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I always said, ‘a nurse.’ But I didn’t go back to school until I was 45 years old. Being in school was easy for me because I was more mature and I was a good student,” Fletcher said. “I worked at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, mostly as a critical care nurse. I loved critical care. I am so glad I finally went back to school. And I am so proud of this new building.”
Landrum said she never wanted to be a nurse.
“And then one day, I suddenly thought, I can do that. I can help save lives and help save people. There are so many different opportunities for people in nursing. I’m a flight care nurse,” she said. “And I think this new building is wonderful.”
Both Fletcher and Landrum said they recommend nursing to people who are trying to decide on a career.
“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to help people,” Fletcher said.
Dorothy N. Fowler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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