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Westminster College receives $437,351 grant from Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative

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Posted on Thursday, October 19, 2023

Westminster College has been awarded $437,351 by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to support the development of an on-campus high-fidelity nursing simulation lab that will benefit current Westminster nursing students and first responders in the region.

This award is part of a recently announced nearly $54 million package supporting 64 projects in 217 coal-impacted counties through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, which directs federal resources to economic diversification projects in Appalachian communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries. This is the largest single POWER awards package to date since the initiative launched in 2015.

The simulation lab will enhance nursing and allied health professional education and upskilling in the region by providing realistic medical scenarios and dynamic environments in which students and first responders can hone their skills. The planned laboratory spaces will be equipped with five lifelike manikins, including a mother that can give birth, a newborn and an infant; standard medical equipment such as beds and crash carts; an observation room with recording equipment; and three-dimensional anatomy and physiology tables.

“Westminster is deeply grateful for the Appalachian Regional Commission’s support of our high-fidelity simulation lab. Reflecting the confidence of our elected federal, state, and local officials, foundation and employer partners, ARC leaders recognize the value of a Westminster education in nursing and health-related fields and also the College’s ability to be a great neighbor in our region,” said Westminster College President Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson.

Additional funding for Westminster’s high-fidelity simulation lab project has been provided by the Lawrence County Commissioners, the Buhl Regional Health Foundation and two private donors.

The project is supported by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, state Sen. Michele Brooks, state Reps. Parke Wentling and Marla Brown, UPMC, Shenango on the Green, NOGA Ambulance Service and the Presbyterian Senior Care Network.

“From workforce training and agriculture, to downtown development and broadband expansion, the projects receiving grants in this round of POWER funding show that the future of Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities is economically diverse and innovative,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “Projects like these are resulting in life-changing transformations, which in turn, not only provides new economic opportunities, but brings a renewed sense of hope and purpose across our Appalachian Region.”

“We are excited to implement this dynamic, experiential mode of teaching and learning as we train nursing students and allied health professionals to provide, or continue providing exceptional care across Lawrence, Mercer and Beaver counties,” said Westminster College Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jamie McMinn. “At a time when these three counties are facing tremendous healthcare shortages, I am so proud of our nursing students and the education they will receive in this new facility.”

Including today’s award package, ARC has invested over $420 million in 507 projects impacting 365 coal-impacted counties since POWER was established in 2015. ARC’s investments have helped create or retain over 53,000 jobs and prepare over 142,000 workers and students for new opportunities in entrepreneurship, broadband, tourism, and other growing industries.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC): The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development partnership entity of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.