By BERNIE HORNICK
Pitt-Johnstown has announced the creation of its division of nursing and health sciences, elevating health care education to a new plateau.
The university also said Wednesday that preliminary designs are being formulated to build a 20,000-square-foot school of nursing. Gov. Ed Rendell announced in August 2008 that the state would give UPJ $4 million toward the unspecified construction costs.
School spokesman Bob Knipple said Thursday that groundbreaking could take place in 2010, “but that’s not really carved in stone anywhere.”
The state budget impasse is not slowing the building process, he said.
The division of nursing and health sciences joins five other academic divisions at the university: Education, engineering technology, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences.
UPJ President Jem Spectar said the health division serves to “advance campus strategic initiatives in nursing and health science while promoting community health and wellness education.”
In the 2008-09 school year, 81 students were registered in the three allied health programs of emergency medical services, respiratory care and surgical technology. The nursing program has a full-time faculty of six.
Knipple said the school hasn’t projected how large the division might become, but said it fulfills an urgent need for health professionals in Greater Johns-town.
Janet Grady, director of the university’s nursing program, will head the division as chairwoman.
The bachelor of science degree in health-related professions has been renamed bachelor of science in health to better reflect the program and the career path of graduates in a variety of settings.
The revised degree is expected to include tracks such as public health, health information technology and health care management.