The sod has been turned at the College of Southern Maryland’s Regional Hughesville Campus, where a 50,000-square-foot facility is projected to open in March 2021 that promises to begin a new era of health care in the region.

The Center For Health Sciences, designed by Grimm + Parker Architects, will be a LEED certified building that provides specialized laboratories for various programs including nursing; emergency medical services; rehabilitation; wellness and fitness; health information management and medical coding; medical laboratory technology; medical assisting; pharmacy technician; and massage therapy. The new center marks phase two of construction which is part of a development plan for the college’s Regional Hughesville Campus, according to a press release.

On the morning of Aug. 27, more than 80 community members joined dignitaries, congressional representatives and regional health care professionals to help college officials celebrate during a groundbreaking ceremony held inside of the Center for Trades and Energy Training. Guest speakers included College of Southern Maryland trustees board chairman Theodore Harwood, Maryland Higher Education Commission Secretary James Fielder, Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles), Del. Edith Patterson (D-Charles), Charles County Commissioners’ President Reuben B. Collins II (D), St. Mary’s County Commissioners’ President James Guy (R), Calvert County Commissioners’ President Thomas “Tim” Hutchins (R), college academic affairs vice president Eileen Abel and college alumnus Dawn Yeitrakis, who is the vice president and chief nursing officer at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown.

College of Southern Maryland President Maureen Murphy gave opening remarks, noting that the “ceremony is truly a ground-breaking event” as the college celebrates the 40th anniversary of its associate’s degree in the nursing program, having “played a significant role in educating and training the future workforce.”

“The college has been offering practical nursing training since 1975,” Murphy said. “We look forward to continuing this strong tradition and to train our health care workers well into the future within this space at the Regional Hughesville Campus. The Center for Health Sciences will be regional in nature, central in location and accessible for all whom we serve.”

Harwood said “it’s incredible to see the growth” since the trustees board “moved forward with the purchase” of the property in 2014 and have a centralized campus.

“It is so much more accessible for all of our students across our region,” said Harwood. “The trustees are looking forward to CSM providing Southern Maryland and Washington area employers with a workforce who possess the skills and attitudes to meet their employers’ needs, and to continue working with our partners to address the health care demands for new jobs to the economy in the future.”

“This is a good day for Southern Maryland and even a better day for a Southern Marylander,” Wilson said, echoing Fielder’s remarks. “It is a shining example of what we can do when work together to do something great.”

Patterson said the college takes care of the “population’s increasing demand for highly able and committed health professionals,” all of whom are smart, spirited and “ready to take on the world” upon graduation.

“CSM has been an economic catalyst for the county,” Collins said. “As our population continues to grow older, the need persists for skilled health care professionals. … Some recent accomplishments relating to health care education include the medical lab tech program achieving the highest national accreditation award, and students being awarded prestigious recognition by the Maryland Nurses Association.”

Described by architects as a forward-thinking and flexible science building, according to the college’s press release, the Center for Health Sciences will include a clinical simulation center, classrooms, computer lab, collaborative learning spaces, faculty and staff offices, a student success suite and a large multipurpose meeting room.

Hutchins, who graduated from the College of Southern Maryland two decades ago when it was Charles County Community College, said the school is not only “an inseparable part of Southern Maryland’s great heritage” but also a key component of “who we are as a region.”

“We celebrate today another new addition to CSM’s educational acumen,” Hutchins said, “which continues to strengthen the entire region economically and provides our population with a local, world-class college.”

“Some health care professionals such as nurses, health information managers and medical laboratory technicians can expect to get started in their careers after two years,” Abel said. “Others like medical assistants, pharmacy technicians and phlebotomists can become certified in a matter of weeks or months. It is for these students that this health pathway has been designed.”

Having referred to herself as a proud alumna, Yeitrakis said she is grateful for all that the college has done for her, both personally and professionally.

“The foundation I received at the College of Southern Maryland shaped who I am as a professional,” said Yeitrakis, “and who I am as a person.”

Twitter: @JClink_MdINDY