Co-Lin’s newest building nearly complete

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, January 25, 2011

NATCHEZ — The state-of-the-art equipment inside Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s new health and science building will be big step forward, Respiratory Care Program Director Walt Wilson said.

Conducting labs in the new building without soot from the welding classrooms filtering though air vents will also be a breath of fresh air, Wilson said.

The 24,500 square-foot facility at the Natchez campus should be completed in one week, Co-Lin Vice President Teresa Busby said.

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Wilson said the departments slated to relocate will begin moving during the month of February, and classes will begin at the new building in March.

The $4.2 million Howell C. Garner Instructional Center will be home to respiratory care, practical nursing, certified nursing assistant and ENT programs.

Busby said the funding was made possible because the Adams County Board of Supervisors voted to extend a millage slated for Co-Lin improvements.

“They’ll have much nicer, more appropriate facilities,” Busby said.

In addition, the new building leaves room for the existing programs to grow and makes it possible to consider adding a new health care program, Busby said.

“In the past we couldn’t even consider expanding,” Wilson said.

He said more than one health care program has reached capacity.

The health and science programs are currently housed in the administration building.

Busby said some science labs are being taught in rooms that used to be used as closets.

In some cases, instruction is hindered because some classrooms are located adjacent to the school’s welding program.

“Realistically we can’t let our students do any kind of breathing test through machines because (the air quality) is not hospital grade,” Wilson said.

In the new facility, the air will be hospital grade, Wilson said.

“We don’t have to worry about dirt or oil coming into our $30,000 machines,” he said.

Wilson credits the administration for working with instructors in the building’s design.

“The school really wanted our input, expected our input and this building is custom-designed for our departments,” he said.

Co-Lin also received a $740,000 grant to buy equipment and technology for the building through the Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association.

New, state-of-the art equipment includes an impulse oscillometry, which measures airway obstructions, Wilson said.

A “body box,” will also be at the facility, which measures airway conductance and resistance.

“Basically it tells how much air is left in a patient’s lung after they’ve exhaled all the way,” Wilson said.

He said it is especially helpful in testing patients with emphysema.

Wilson said Co-Lin’s respiratory care program already has a good reputation, and access to the new equipment will enhance the program.

“We will have access to some of the technologies that most bachelor and masters levels don’t (have access),” Wilson said.

It is possible that Co-Lin will eventually allow local physicians to use the equipment, which Wilson said would benefit the medical community. Wilson said he looks forward to the department’s move to the new facility. The dedication of the Howell C. Garner Instructional Center is set for March 3.

“I can’t wait for people to see it, we’re just very pleased to have a facility of this caliber,” Wilson said.

“It’s just been amazing how the community has come together to support us on this.”