A local community college is hoping to receive grant funding to enhance its nursing program.

On Thursday, the Erie County Council will be voting to approve a $2 million grant for Erie County Community College’s (EC3) allied health and nursing labs.

This money is a part of the American Rescue Plan Act fund budget, and if approved, it will create a program to administer classroom and practical instruction in the field of health care and nursing.

“It will be a good start. We’re here taking over the Villa Maria Academy. We do have some infrastructure that we’re working through, and I think that $2 million will definitely get us started. We have funding that we would then apply to it to help offset additional costs,” said Guy Goodman, vice president of student & academic affairs, EC3.

The funding will be used to enhance their current facilities and add labs to their west campus.

Last spring, EC3 approved their practical nursing program and Goodman hopes this launch will help drive conversations with local hospital systems.

He explained that each system is currently training their own staff and this is a way to come together.

“Once students graduate from EC3, then they can go right into or potentially go right into the positions that any of the three systems would have available,” Goodman added.

Hunter Olsen, a nursing lead from the Allegheny Health Network (AHN), said the nursing shortage has been an issue long before covid.

“A lot of the newer nurses, COVID kind of scared them unfortunately out of the profession, so we’re trying to grapple people back into the mindset of wanting to become nurses and personal care assistants (PCAs) and doctors,” said Olsen.

Olsen added that nursing isn’t an easy profession, but it’s rewarding.

“You might have 10 bad patients that aren’t the nicest to you, but it’s that one patient that says, ‘Awe you made my day or I feel so much better,’ and you make a difference for them. That’s all that matters at the end of the day,” Olsen continued.

Goodman also said the shortage is real and it’s a domino effect that EC3 is trying to impact by training entry positions so that individuals can step up to the next level.