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Copiah County Medical Center takes Co-Lin’s President’s Award

Copiah-Lincoln Community College paid homage to one of its biggest mission supporters Tuesday morning, handing out an award plaque and a public “thank-you” to the area’s newest medical facility.

Copiah County Medical Center received the college’s President’s Award during the annual Business and Industry Appreciation Breakfast for the work it has done through the school’s career-tech program, where it has made donations and served as a clinical site for students needing hands-on experience to graduate from the nursing program. CCMC CEO Ben Lott said partnering with Co-Lin to host nursing and LPN students during clinicals helps get those students into the work force — sometimes the hospital’s own work force.

“Plus, it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “We want to invest in our healthcare community.”

Students who undergo clinicals at CCMC spend their days shadowing doctors, nurses and faculty members to see healthcare in action, allowing them to exercise skills learned in the classroom in a hands-on manner while under the watchful eye of professionals who can assist and correct.

Students who participate in clinicals at the hospital do so at its new 54,000 square-foot facility adjacent to I-55 in Hazlehurst, which opened in 2017 to replace the 68-year-old Hardy Wilson Memorial Hospital. The old hospital was turned back over to Copiah County.

CCMC has also sponsored Co-Lin job fairs and donated to scholarship funds that help fill the financial aid gap for nursing students. Hospital employees also serve on the school’s career-tech advisory boards.

Jackie Martin, dean of the school’s career, technical and workforce education department, said CCMC was chosen for the President’s Award because its partnership benefits Co-Lin in both sides of the career-tech program. Simply put, the hospital helps train nurses, then hires them — the ultimate goal of Co-Lin’s and all community college’s workforce training programs.

“Without our hospitals, we couldn’t have a program,” she said. “It’s important we give our students as close to a real-world experience as we can.”

Outgoing Co-Lin President Ronnie Nettles said the hospital’s scholarship funding and training helps around 50 graduating nursing students each year between the college’s Wesson and Simpson County campuses. He said CCMC’s participation was significant for the success of the nursing program, one of the college’s biggest draws.

“And not just important to us, but it’s important to our community,” Nettles said. “There’s such a demand for nurses statewide and nationwide. We don’t want to just have the programs — we want to make sure they’re quality programs, and the hospitals help us do that.”

Nettles pointed out all hospitals in the college’s seven-county district participate in the career-tech program. King’s Daughters Medical Center in Brookhaven is a past President Award winner, and hospitals in the Natchez area are helping Co-Lin’s Natchez campus start a new program to train paramedics.