Creating Success in North Carolina: Hope, Opportunity, Jobs

Pitt CC selected
to lead Health Information Technology grant

Three NC Community Colleges are involved in the Region D grant from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop a curriculum in Health Information Technology. Pitt Community College, lead for the grant, Central Piedmont CC and Catawba Valley CC are all involved in this two-year, 13-state grant. Each college is requested to enroll 150 students in the newly developed curriculum which combines skills from Health Communication and Information Technology into a six-month program. Read the Governor's press release about this new health care initiative.

Durham Tech student plans a career that combines medical care with Spanish interpretation

“Education is the most important treasure I can give to you,” said Odarely M. Bejar’s mother, a teacher in Mexico. Through the years, Bejar understood the truth of those words. Bejar moved from Mexico to the US with her mother in 2001. She excelled in her studies at Northern High School in Durham, where she was a member of the National Honor Society. After high school, Bejar enrolled in Durham Technical Community College’s Spanish Facilitator certificate program.

Because she was interested in the medical field, she then enrolled in the Medical Spanish Facilitator certificate program. Bejar was able to practice her skills at UNC Hospitals, shadowing professional interpreters as they helped patients and families who did not speak English talk with doctors and nurses who did not speak Spanish. While on the job, she also learned much about the medical environment. Soon Bejar’s skills were called on throughout the hospital.

Her volunteer work for her courses actually led to another interest. Bejar is now enrolled in Durham Tech’s Associate Degree Nursing program. She attends courses during the week. On weekends, she works part time at UNC Hospitals, using her facilitating skills.

“I always love going to work,” she said. She eventually hopes to have a job that combines her medical and facilitator expertise, perhaps in patient relations.

Simulated hospitals

The Simulated Hospital at Catawba Valley Community College will be the largest facility of its kind when equipment is secured. Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, N.C., is set to open a Regional Simulated Hospital in early 2011.

The Regional Simulated Hospital is a mock hospital environment for simulation of patient centered care, including EMS transport, triage, health information management, emergency department care, perioperative care, nursing acute medical surgical, psychiatric care, and nursing care assistants. This simulation based training is on the leading edge of healthcare education and provides the opportunity to replicate emergency and non-emergency scenarios without jeopardy to patient life, care and comfort.

The Simulated Hospital puts Western North Carolina community colleges in the lead position to train critically needed workers for the crucial healthcare jobs that are currently going unfilled. 

Encompassing 27,000-square feet, the entire fifth floor of the Cuyler A. Dunbar Building, it will provide varied clinical experiences for allied health students and professionals. It will also allow area colleges and high schools to collectively train 250 nurses, an increase of 20% in enrollment in respiratory therapists and provide the capacity to add 90 additional certified nursing assistants in three years and provide 150 high school health occupation students with a simulated experience. The facility also includes a mid-size auditorium where public lectures and presentations can be conducted.

Fifteen partners are collaborating on the project, including four regional community colleges and one four-year college, two local education authorities, a high school, four hospitals, two private practitioners, and two workforce partners.  The collaborating colleges have agreed to use the Simulated Hospital to augment critically needed clinical sites. Practicing nurses in need of continuing education and hospital staff educators from four regional hospitals have also agreed to use the Simulated Hospital for their continuing education requirements. It has been funded by a $1 million grant from the NCCCS, a $1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and private donations.

This project is expected to be the first collaboration in the state to have the pioneering simulated technology, education and practice partners available for curriculum enhancement, certification, competency and continuing education instruction. The project pools healthcare financial resources and shares costly simulation equipment, educators and practitioner in the region to increase the supply and competency of registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, health information technologists, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) paramedics and anesthesiologists in the Catawba Valley.


Johnston Community College in Smithfield, N.C., has received a $200,000 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation to start the development of a virtual hospital on campus. The funds will be used to buy state-of-the-art simulation equipment for the project, a collaboration of Health Care Partners of Johnston County.

The virtual hospital will allow nursing students and trained healthcare professionals the opportunity to practice procedures and respond to real-life patient scenarios using sophisticated simulation technology and life-size mannequins. JCC President David Johnson said the project will ensure that the college’s nursing students are well-prepared for their future work environments.

“JCC is pleased to accept this grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation which will enable us to launch the exciting plan for a virtual hospital in Johnston County,” Johnson said. “This facility will be an invaluable educational and training resource for our health sciences students as well as our healthcare professional partners in the area. “The Golden LEAF Foundation is a longstanding supporter of new initiatives at our college and we are most grateful for its continued philanthropy,” the president added.

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