June 19, 2008
08-110

Thressea Boyd
Director of Communications

Laura Love SGMC, Director of Community Relations (229) 259-4420

VSU Receives Major Gift from South Georgia Medical Center

VALDOSTA - South Georgia Medical Center announced today a $1 million investment to address its largest category of staff vacancies -- nursing. The pledge, designated to the Valdosta State University Health Sciences and Business Administration facility, will be used to facilitate the development of an expanded program of nursing and allied health sciences in Valdosta.

Approximately four years ago, SGMC CEO James McGahee and VSU President Ronald Zaccari began meeting to discuss partnership opportunities to advance educational programs at Valdosta State for a variety of health occupations. Working with the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, a proposal to build a Health Sciences and Business Administration facility at VSU’s Rea and Lillian Steele North Campus evolved.

According to McGahee, SGMC is very concerned about the nursing shortage that is facing the healthcare industry. He said, “Like so many hospitals around our state and nation, South Georgia Medical Center struggles with a nursing shortage. On any given day, we have between 75 and 100 nursing vacancies throughout our organization. When you couple this shortage with an aging population and increasing hospital utilization, you quickly realize that we are outpacing our resources. SGMC is stepping up to the plate to proactively invest in the establishment of a world-class, health sciences training program at VSU.”

While SGMC helped fund VSU’s Second Degree program and offers nursing scholarships and other incentives for students in health-related fields, McGahee feels more had to be done. “Our goal is to expand opportunities and graduate record numbers of students. Since SGMC will provide clinical training for these students, we hope they will become familiar with our people, practices and procedures and want to work here when they graduate,” McGahee said.

According to Dr. Zaccari, the construction of the Health Sciences and Business Administration facility establishes a partnership with South Georgia Medical Center and the region’s medical community that represents a tremendous economic impact on South Georgia. Additionally, it provides the needed facilities to increase educational opportunities within various health-related and business areas of study. The north campus project will include an additional $30 million in residence halls, dining facilities, and related infrastructure that will bring the total cost to approximately $75 million.

“The new Health Sciences and Business Administration facility, planned strategically on the university’s north campus and directly across from South Georgia Medical Center’s own visionary and emerging facilities, will provide many opportunities for collaboration and new educational and clinical experiences,” Zaccari said. “Our vision is to attract outstanding scholars, teachers and researchers to Valdosta State University, and in turn open new partnerships with physicians, hospital administrators and multiple use facilities. It is an important and crucial time in our region’s history to chart a new course of action - an intense action plan that serves as a catalyst for combining scarce and valuable resources and accomplishing projects never before imagined.”

The VSU Health Sciences and Business Administration facility is quickly moving up the University System of Georgia’s capital projects list and construction should begin within the next three years. The approximately $46 million facility will represent one of the most significant advances in VSU’s history, and directly responds to the state of Georgia’s critical need for more healthcare professionals.

For more information, contact SGMC’s Community Relations office at 229-259-4420 or Valdosta State University’s Communications Office at 229-333-5952.

Renderings of the Health Sciences and Business Administration Facility can be found at http://www.valdosta.edu/news/redirect/health.sciences/ .