KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The next step is underway for a new state-of-the-art healthcare training facility that is coming to East Tennessee. On Jan. 27, Covenant Health donated land to Roane State Community College for the Knox Regional Health Science and Simulation Center to be built on.

Leaders from Roane State Community College, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Knoxville and Covenant Health joined together at Parkwest Medical Center to officially transfer the land on Friday. The 10 acres donated are located on Sherill Boulevard, across the street from Parkwest.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to donate the land for the new health science and simulation center, which will bring innovative resources to a greater number of students and prepare them for success in their healthcare careers,” said Jim VanderSteeg, Covenant Health president and CEO. “Educating the healthcare professionals of tomorrow is a vital part of caring for our communities, so this is truly a perfect partnership for Covenant Health.”

The Knox Regional Health Science and Simulation Center was announced in 2022. The center will replace Roane State’s Knox County Center for Health Sciences and become the new home for TCAT Knoxville’s health science programs. The hope is the center will help train the next generation of healthcare workers in East Tennessee.

“Roane State and TCAT Knoxville have needed to expand our Health Science programs because of the critical shortage of workers but neither of us has space to expand our programs in the current locations where we teach in our current campuses. So, we’ve been the generous recipients of $67.5 million of state-appropriated dollars to build a new campus that Roane State and TCAT will share. But even after that generous appropriation we still needed land to build the building on, so in steps Covenant,” said Chris Whaley, Roane State’s president.

“So, this is one part of our community strategy to bring more workers that we all need. Because every one of us, I don’t care who you are, whether you need healthcare today, you’re going to need healthcare at some point in time and the fact that we can have more high-quality workers that want to live and stay in this community that can help us take care of patients is a benefit to everybody. So that’s what makes it exciting,” said VanderSteeg.

The land donated is valued at $10 million and according to Whaley, it is the largest single donation in the history of Roane State. He went on to say that beyond the money, is the ability to build the facility and help hundreds and thousands of students become healthcare professionals and get critical jobs in East Tennessee.

“The key part of this facility is going to be this fully integrated simulation center, where students from both institutions will be in simulated very real-world situations which will get them ready for those real-world clinicals while they’re still in the classroom. So, they get the virtual real world before they go out into the real world,” said Whaley.

Construction on the center is planned to begin later this year.

“Covenant’s generosity means this project moves forward and so we’re looking forward to a groundbreaking, probably sometime in May with hopefully classes started and our students are ready to enter the doors in the fall semester of 2025,” said Whaley.