“We are facing a nationwide nursing shortage and without aggressive intervention, the supply of nurses in America will fall 29 percent below what we need by 2020. This nursing shortage not only affects our hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices, but it also has a devastating impact on our local communities,” said Ross, of Prescott. “I was happy to help secure funding in 2005 to help make possible the expansion of the Wharton Building.SAU will continue to grow and proposer with this nursing program and help southwest Arkansas with the necessary nursing force to meet the growing demands of the community and the state.”
Dr. Bernadette Fincher, Chair of the SAU Department of Nursing, agreed the expansion comes at a time when there is a growing need for registered nurses, particularly in rural communities. “The expansion of SAU’s Wharton Nursing Building is an important element toward increasing the number of professional nurses available in south Arkansas to provide the surrounding health care facilities with qualified nurses to meet current and future workforce demands,” said Fincher.
The new addition and renovations were completed in two phases. Phase 1 was conducted January through March of 2007 and included connecting the building to the University’s district cooling loop, renovations to the mechanical room and design work necessary for Phase II. All work connected to Phase I was made possible through a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant of $334,000 sponsored by Congressman Ross.
Phase II included renovation of three existing classroom/laboratories and the addition of 10,287 square feet in new classrooms/laboratories, offices, support facilities and parking. This phase was conducted February through November 2008, cost approximately $1.9 million and raised total square footage to 25,114. The building addition was designed by CADM architects of El Dorado, Arkansas and constructed by general contractor Coker Building Company Inc. of Arkansas.