The Georgia state legislature and Gov. Nathan Deal have approved $1 million in bond funds for planning and designing the new structure and the transfer of land will facilitate that process, officials said.
The property is located directly across Cohen Walker from the college's main entrance. The transfer must still be approved by Houston Hospitals, Inc. and the Houston County Hospital Authority.
The estimated cost of the new teaching complex would be $16.4 million with another $3 million for furnishing and equipment. Those costs have yet to be approved by the state legislature.
Dr. Ivan Allen, MGTC president and a member of the Houston Healthcare System, Inc. board, abstained during the voting. But following the session at Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins, he said the new enterprise would enable the college to offer new, cutting-edge health care programs. He cited physical therapy assistants and cardiovascular technicians as examples of several additional specialties that could be included.
“We need to train those people and have quality programs so that we do not have to go out of the county or out of the area to get them,” Ivan said. “That’s the impact we can have. More citizens in our local area will have access to that type of training.”
Health care related programs are already a major part of MCTC, accounting for about 30 percent of current enrollment.
“We expect this new addition could add somewhere between 400 to 600 students,” Allen said. “It would probably mean that our health care related programs will go to about 45 percent of our total enrollment.”
Cary Martin, Houston Healthcare’s president and chief executive officer, said the decision is a good health care investment.
“Middle Georgia Tech provides good value for the education dollar,” Martin stressed. “We get a very well trained workforce and very good employees.”
He praised Houston Healthcare’s continuing partnership with MGTC and Macon State College.
“Both are great partners and they collaborate very well with each other,” Martin said. “We are able to magnify the dollars we invest in those programs to the benefit of their students and our future employees. It’s been a good deal for us.”
In other business, Sean Whilden, Houston Healthcare’s chief financial officer, reported a net income of more than $1.2 million for the month of April including a significant uptick in income and patient activity at Perry Hospital. The Perry facility registered gains in surgery and in patient days during the month after a series of monthly declines compared to the previous year.
Martin said Perry Hospital continues to serve a good population area and a very special patient base, although he conceded that health care tends to be very cyclical.
“When our med stops start seeing an increase in patients, you’re going to have people seeking more acute care,” he pointed out. “But the numbers are looking better in Perry.”
Martin also announced the July 1 start date of Houston Healthcare’s family residency program. The initial class will include six first-year and three second-year residents.
The three-year program will eventually expand to 18 residents, he indicated.
The CEO believes the residency effort will not only transition the local complex to a teaching hospital, but also aid in attracting physicians to the area -- a plus for Houston County at a time of physician shortages across the country.
“There are studies showing that a majority of residents tend to stay within 50 miles of where they did their residency,” Martin said.