'A Dream Come True:' PC opens Allied Health Building

Ribbon Cutting

by Jamie A. Hunt

The Porterville Recorder


Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the ribbon cutting of the long awaited state-of-the-art Allied Health (AH) Building at Porterville College on Wednesday, April 24.


Porterville College President Dr. Claudia Habib welcomed everyone saying, "It's so wonderful to see so many of you and students as well. Welcome to Porterville College for this very special occasion. Thank you for being here today for the grand opening of the Allied Health Building."


She acknowledged special guest Dr. Steven Bloomberg, new Kern Community College District Chancellor, thanking him for his support, and Trustee John Corkins, who represents PC and the Porterville community and was instrumental in the AH Building project. Habib also welcomed Porterville Mayor Martha A. Flores, Sierra View Medical Center CEO Donna Hefner, as well as many Porterville Developmental Center representatives.


"Today is a significant day for PC, and the Kern College District, and the community,” Habib said. “After many years of planning and hard work we are officially opening the doors of the Allied Health Building. This ribbon cutting ceremony marks the beginning of a new chapter for Porterville College as we strive to provide our students with the best education and resources. This project was made possible by the unwavering support of the KCCD Board of Trustees, and we have Trustee (Yovani) Jimenez as well in the audience."


“Also it was made possible by community members who voted for passing of Measures J and G, and the members of the PC Foundation, who've been part of the Bond oversight committee. It is also the result of a great collaboration and interest from our community partners, and especially by the leadership of Kim Behrens and the faculty who have been instrumental in bringing this vision to life."


Habib spoke about the building design and how it echoes the community, with Tule grass, the native plants, wood and granite of the Sierras, and the new labs and classrooms are designed to provide students with a professional environment that will prepare them for a successful career in the healthcare field.


“Today we celebrate not just the building, but the opportunities it will provide for students and the community,” Habib said. “The building has doubled in size for the nursing, psych tech, and EMT programs at PC, and pretty soon the LVN program, and will provide more health care opportunities in Tulare County.”


Habib expressed her heartfelt gratitude to Porterville residents, City officials, Tulare County officials, and all their partners for their support and dedication. “Thank you to the faculty for your commitment and dedication to health care. It is truly inspiring to watch you teach and support the students. We are honored to have you as part of PC. Thank you everyone for being a part of this historic moment for Porterville College."


Corkins graciously thanked Dr. Habib, and said "last time we were standing here, we were getting ready to build this, and there was a big hole in the ground, and a well. I think we've improved since we were here last. Congratulations to those folks who built this. This building will facilitate the growth of our health program at PC."


He spoke about legislation to expand the programs for nursing, psych tech, and EMT's, as those are critical in the community. The Measure J and G Bonds were used for the building. “It was a $500 million bond, and we've put about $45 million at Porterville College,” Corkins said.


“It is very significant for the community and the college and will help forward growth. This building should serve students for many years in the future. We appreciate you all being here today.”


Chancellor Bloomberg said, "This is a historic day for Dr. Habib, the Board of Trustees, Madame Mayor, and distinguished guests, faculty, staff, and most importantly, students. This building is an asset to Porterville College, Tulare County, and the City of Porterville. It is a gateway for some of the best health care professionals, our dedicated faculty and our support teams to practice their craft. But also it is also a gateway for these students, and generations of students to come.


“For these students, post COVID, and I hope that that remains post, There's always a shortage of qualified health care workers. Registered nurses, radiological technicians, respiratory technicians, and others.


“You are desperately needed on the front lines of health care, and in health professions, because people are tired. The shortages that were there pre-COVID, are even more post COVID, and I can't tell you how much, when I talk to health care providers throughout the Valley, how many students are needed.


“Plus, here's a thing that I know, as I become more Chronologically gifted, I avoid the word, older," said Bloomberg to much laughter in the audience. “I use that term, because I feel better about it.

As I become more chronologically gifted, I'm going to need access to quality healthcare. The thing that I know is we put out superior caring students who are engaged in our community. And so, if I'm ever in a situation where I need you, I know I'm in good hands, because they have the best training there is.


“These students will represent us well as they go out and work in our hospitals and our clinic.They are the first generation to walk through these doors and will pave the path for other students as well. So I'm pleased to be here today with you, as a part of this celebration to be a part of the catalyst that grows the economy of this community and this county."


Bloomberg spoke about the legislature in Sacramento debating a Bill to allow community colleges to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Should that pass, Porterville College is well positioned to be the first in the state to offer that degree, “so that's high on my list of priorities to ensure we are not just turning out high quality graduates in nursing, but we can provide highly qualified individuals with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing,” Bloomberg said.


Senior Educational Planner Vivek Harris spoke about the sustainability of the building, and the materials, Behrens, Associated Dean of Health, spoke about the need for the much anticipated building and all the work, cooperation, and organization it took to make it happen since it's been a dream and goal for well over 20 years. Behrens spoke about the health students originally learning and studying in the Academic Center years ago, and then finally their excitement when they moved to temporary buildings. Basically the new building is "a dream come true," for everyone, Behrens said.

Certificates of recognition were presented to Behrens by representative Logan Odneal from Devon State Assemblyman Devon Mathis office, representative Eric Coyne for State Senator Melissa Hurtado, as well as Tulare County Supervisor Dennis Townsend.


Following the remarks, the dignitaries stood together and cut the ribbon to great acclaim and applause in front of the beautiful new Allied Health Building.


Everyone was invited to take a tour, and they gradually made their way into the building with all of the AH students.