Comerford seeks money for nursing research lab

  • Sen. Jo Comerford  STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/10/2020 3:51:06 PM

GREENFIELD – Greenfield Community College is waiting to hear whether it will receive money for a new nursing simulation lab. 

Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, successfully secured bond authorizations through the Senate for the local community college, as well as the University of Massachusetts Amherst, to encourage new development and “usher in a recovering economy” through the ENDURE Act, which the state Senate passed late last month. The legislation not only includes provisions for small business, competitive grant programs, housing production, local economic development projects and capital funding for vocational schools, but money for the local colleges.

The senator’s amendments would fund research, training and manufacturing laboratories at GCC and UMass, including one authorizing $500,000 in borrowing to fund the planning and development of a health care occupations training facility at GCC, which would build on a $500,000 authorization secured for that same purpose by Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, during a House debate for a total of $1 million to support the same project.

“The demand for registered nurses is a significant stressor on our region’s labor market,” Comerford said. “COVID-19 laid bare the impact of chronic workforce shortages. A nursing simulation lab would enable GCC to expand the continuum of its health occupations training programs to meet the significant demand in the labor market.”

Comerford said she recently attended a meeting with the community college, Mark and the state’s Economic Development Secretary Michael Kennealy to discuss development of the facility.

GCC President Yves Salomon-Fernandez said she would like to talk about the project once she knows it has received the funding and is moving forward. At that time, she said she will provide the details.

The legislation, as reported out of committee, authorized more than $375 million in borrowing before additional borrowing amendments were adopted during floor debate, Comerford said.

The legislation has been passed, with some differences, by both the House and Senate, so it will now go to a joint committee to be reconciled and once that happens, a final bill will be sent to the governor for his signature. If Gov. Charlie Baker signs it into law, the legislation will also provide support for the tourism and cultural sectors, as well as the restaurant industry and protections to people with student loans.

Comerford also secured an authorization for $1 million for UMass’s Water and Energy Technology Center.

“The WET lab is an award-winning, innovative hub for water research and the only such center on the east coast north of Georgia tackling PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination and COVID-19-related detection through water,” Comerford added. “This lab is at full capacity and simply cannot necessarily expand its operations without renovation and upgraded equipment.”

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.




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