The Greatest Wealth is Health — Invest in Tallahassee’s Well-Being This Season

Florida and our nation are heading toward a major health care crisis — a chronic shortage of health care professionals that will be needed over the coming decades as our population ages.

A 2007 study by the Florida Center for Nursing revealed that 40 percent of Florida nurses are 51 or older and many of them are expected to retire in the next 10 years. Currently it is estimated our state has a shortage of about 11,000 nurses needed to properly staff our health facilities. By 2020, that shortage is predicted to be more than 52,000. 

There isn’t a study to reflect shortages in all the other health care professions, but one can assume the situation is similar. And rest assured, if not addressed soon, this will have an adverse impact on our local hospitals and the residents of our capital region.

In an effort to fill the need, Tallahassee Community College offers professional educational programs in diagnostic medical sonography, emergency medical services, nursing, radiological technology and respiratory care — and nearly all graduates of these health-related programs find jobs in our community.

Several years ago, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital donated land and the philanthropic Ghazvini family provided $2 million in startup money to help TCC relocate its health care training programs into one facility strategically located in Tallahassee’s “medical corridor,” close to area hospitals. 

Through the hard work of TCC President Bill Law, senior staff and the college’s Board of Trustees, the Florida Legislature agreed to spend nearly $26 million for construction of the Ghazvini Center for Health Care Education.   

This private donation and public contribution will result in a three-story, 85,000-square-foot building where classroom education can happen, instructors can lecture and students can be within walking distance or just a short drive from places like TMH, Capital Regional Medical Center, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, Select Specialty Hospital and numerous nursing homes where they will receive real-time training. 

Most importantly, this new center will enable TCC to nearly double the students they train and give them daily exposure to the best medical training that Tallahassee can offer.

And this is just the first foundation piling of a planned health-care training and treatment “campus” that will allow area residents to secure specialized treatments that currently require travel to Tampa, Gainesville, Atlanta and beyond.

But TCC faces another challenge. Funding is still needed to provide the training equipment and furnishings needed to fill the Ghazvini Center, which is slated for completion in
Spring 2011.

This is where you come into the picture.

The TCC Foundation has embarked on a community fundraising campaign to find the resources to equip the facility. The most obvious resource is a personal cash contribution. But Tallahassee is home to many with connections to major corporations that could be asked to provide donations of furnishings or training equipment. (The equipment doesn’t have to be new.)

Every dollar, every contact will help.

Please consider sending a check. Or contact TCC Foundation Director Robin Johnston to create an earmarked contribution, regardless of the amount because every dollar will help, to the TMH Foundation or the Community Foundation of North Florida. Reach out to a corporate friend who will take your request to his or her board of directors for a donation of money or equipment. Ask your club or organization to support the effort. The Sunrise Rotary Club has already made a $5,000 donation to the effort.

What is the return on this investment for you and Tallahassee? It will come in many ways. Among them:

Our area hospitals will have a larger and better-trained pool of health care providers who could one day impact your life or the life of a loved one.

You can be part of countless health care solutions that will have an immediate local impact.

You can leave a personal or family legacy through one of the many naming opportunities that come with gifting.

So, at the end of one of the most challenging economic years in our lifetime, which has been felt globally and individually, I ask you to find the strength and resolve during this holiday season of giving to provide a gift that will enhance the fabric of health care and life in Tallahassee.

And may I extend greetings of the season to you and your family from our family of 35 staff members of Rowland Publishing.

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