AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Augusta Technical College and University Health Care System are teaming up to develop a health sciences campus at University Hospital Summerville. University Health Care System CEO Jim Davis and Augusta Technical College President Dr. Jermaine Whirl signed a letter of intent Thursday solidifying the partnership.

“Our intention at Augusta Tech is to move our entire school of health sciences to the Summerville campus,” Whirl said. “We will not only offer all of our health care programs, but we also will have a full suite of student services available.”

“The goal is to increase the capacity to educate and graduate future health professionals, predominantly in nursing but also in other clinical roles,” Davis added.

The goal is to get more nursing and health care students into hospitals. There are about 600 students on the waiting list at Augusta Tech. The college currently does not have enough room or teachers to accommodate them. Whirl and Davis hope this partnership with change that as hospitals are in desperate need of more staff.

“Health care institutions are in a crisis,” Whirl said. “COVID has really exacerbated the need for health care workers not only today but into the future. One of our high-level goals is to graduate, within five years of this inception, 200 nurses and double our allied health professional graduates each year thereafter.”

Health sciences students will transition to the Summerville campus in phases. If approved, phase one will begin this Spring or Summer. That will include students in nursing, occupational therapy and medical assistant programs. More programs will follow.

Davis says existing buildings on the Summerville campus will be renovated. University Health Care System will consider constructing new buildings in the future.

“We really want this to be a national model in which other colleges and health care providers around the nation can look at and say, ‘This his how you partner. This is how you collaborate to bring unique solutions to a troubled workforce,'” Whirl explained.