Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

March 21, 2012

Funding for new VSU building still on track

VALDOSTA — Necessary funding for the Valdosta State University Health Sciences and Business Administration Building is still on track for being included in the Georgia Fiscal Year 2013 budget.

After clearing a number of hurdles over the last few weeks, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a budget on Tuesday morning that will include an additional $8.5 million for the South Georgia project.

This coincides with the state budget proposal adopted by the House of Representatives earlier this month which included $23.5 million, to fulfill the total requested funding of $32 million for the project.

District 8 State Senator Tim Golden is optimistic the Georgia State budget for FY 2013 of $19.2 billion will pass the Senate with the necessary $8.5 million for the project.

The next step in the process will be review from the conference committee which is comprised of three senators and three representatives. It will return to the House and Senate for vote and then Gov. Nathan Deal will have 30 days to review the budget and make judgment. Golden predicts an answer should be ready by April 1.

“We feel good about the project,” said Golden. “We wouldn’t be here without the support of the Governor and his staff, along with Sen. Jack Hill and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.”

As was previously reported in the Times, the HSBA building will be built next to South Georgia Medical Center.

VSU received approximately $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for initial planning and $2.8 million for architectural design from the Georgia Legislature in FY11.

The 140,000-square-foot HSBA building was first proposed within the university’s 2007 master plan. It will serve as an advanced academic facility to educate health-care professionals and will house six health science programs: Nursing (including a dental-hygiene program with Wiregrass Georgia Technical College), communications disorders, athletic training, exercise physiology, social work and business health administration.

Economic projections show an impact of approximately $60 million in construction and each additional student is estimated to bring in $17,500 to the community.

“There are a number of critical needs, both regional and statewide, that this new facility will enable the university to address,” said Golden. “The state is experiencing a shortage of primary care in several fields, including nursing, social work, speech disorders and kinesiology.”

Another $716,954 is being sought for the funding of the South Georgia Medical Education and Research Consortium. Hospitals from around the         region, including John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital, South Georgia Medical center, Colquitt Regional Medical Center, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Tift Regional Center would be included in the consortium which will develop programs in internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, general surgery and emergency services that will train approximately 160 residents.

The first 21 residents will enter the programs in July 2014 and all programs should be in operation within 18 months, Golden stated. The first physician will be in practice by July 2017.

“When you couple this program with the Health Sciences building, it’s going to be great training for health professionals,” Golden stated.

The $716,954 appropriation is a portion of a proposed $5 million in funding from legislature over the next five years. The consortium expects a hospital contribution of about $4.1 million and a Georgia Health Sciences University contribution of $1.2 million.

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