The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

September 27, 2013

Facility a boost for UPJ nursing program

JOHNSTOWN — Dozens were in attendance Friday as Pitt-Johnstown officially opened the doors to its new Nursing and Health Sciences Building. The $12 million facility is the latest in the university’s more than $40 million campus renovation and construction projects.

The 26,000-square-foot building is located next to the Engineering and Science Building. It houses 11 chemistry and biology laboratories, one nursing simulation laboratory, six faculty offices and two seminar classrooms.

It is expected to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

In his dedication speech, President Jem Spectar acknowledged the local and state funding efforts that contributed to the price tag, including $300,000 from the Johns-

town Educational Foundation and $4 million from the commonwealth.

Sen. John Wozniak, D-Westmont, spoke about the return on investment that the program, founded in 2009, and it subsequent graduating classes will provide.

“This investment will outlive me and it will outlive everybody in this audience. It will pay its dividends far more than $4 million dollars,” he said. “Every student that will be graduating from here with a nursing degree has a very good chance of having an excellent, successful career that pays well.

“And you’ll pay it back because you’ll pay your taxes. And that will be class after class after class.”

The first class of 22 nursing students graduated in April. Currently, the university’s nursing program is at capacity with 160 students enrolled. Spectar said the university’s rate of expansion comes with a unique perspective.

“Someone reminded me earlier today that exactly 46 years ago, buildings were dedicated on this campus – in 1967 – and the total cost of the campus was $8 million. Time flies, right?” he said of the new $12 million facility.

“The building is nothing without the students whose dreams and aspirations make it come alive.”

Nursing program sophomores Amber Blefko, of Hummelstown, and Courtney Bridge, of Ligonier, said their chosen field will allow them much lateral mobility after college.

“It’s so broad that I can do anything with (my degree), basically,” said Blefko, who was job-shadowing at Hershey Medical Center when she decided nursing was right for her.

Sophomore Lauren Steffen said she feels many students will be thankful for and invigorated by the new space.

“Between Blackington Hall and (the Engineering and Science Building), it was very crammed.

“The space was not very efficient for the types of things we were doing,” she said.

Bridge said nursing classrooms were spread across campus and had few special accommodations – they weren’t designed with such a wide-ranging program in mind.

“Our simulation lab, where we have the patient mannequins – it was just one little room and it had all of the beds real close together,” Bridge said.

“We would have 10 people per lab and our (lab times were staggered) so we could fit everyone in. And, it was pretty tiny.”

Lack of ventilation made cadaver examinations a nose-burning experience. New vent hoods will draw chemical odors out and simulation labs with one-way mirrors will allow instructors to supervise students’ work during competency exams.

“It’s uplifting. It’s exciting. I think everyone’s excited just to see where this program could essentially go in the future,” Steffen said.

“I think it’s a great feeling for everyone just to be in a new environment.”

Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • foust_25 Teen shot in Oakhurst

    A 16-year-old New Jersey boy was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center on Thursday after being shot three times in the Oakhurst section of Johnstown.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Audit: City overspent by $700G in 2013

    Legacy costs contributed significantly to the city of Johnstown coming up $689,000 short in its core services funding during 2013.

    July 24, 2014

  • Kuzma, jonathan Guilty plea in hammer death

    The Johnstown man who authorities said killed his father with a hammer last year pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal homicide, authorities said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • quecreek rescue Events to mark anniversary of Quecreek rescue

    When word spread that nine Quecreek miners were trapped underground in July 2002, Bill Arnold’s dairy farm quickly became the rescue effort’s ground zero.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Huger, Stephen Accused Hornerstown shooter will stand trial

    A Johnstown man will stand trial in connection with a July 12 shooting in the Hornerstown section of the city.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Board names Zahorchak’s successor

    The Greater Johnstown school board at a special meeting Thursday named a superintendent to replace the retiring superintendent, rehired its last business manager and approved other administrative appointments.

    July 24, 2014

  • Pasquerilla, Mark Pasquerilla recognized as arts patron

    First lady Susan Corbett announced Thursday from the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pa., that Mark Pasquerilla of Johnstown has earned the Patron Award from the 2014 Governor’s Awards for the Arts.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ebensburg gets ready to party

    Party down with a shutdown.
    Downtown Shutdown, a street party featuring music and food, will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday in downtown Ebensburg.

    July 24, 2014

  • ROTARY Local Rotary Club earns recognition

    The Rotary Club of Johnstown was named Outstanding Large Club of the Year in District 7330, which serves 42 Rotary Clubs in seven counties in southwest Pennsylvania, at the Rotary District 7330 and District 7300 Joint Conference that was held June 26 through 29 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kara Baumgardner ‘I’m helping other people’: Forest Hills freshman donates regularly to Locks of Love

    Summerhill resident Kara Baumgardner has cut her hair a total of four times in the past five years.
    Each time, she has chopped off 10 to 12 inches for donation to Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that makes wigs for those 21 and younger who have lost their hair due to medical conditions.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads