From Enterprise Staff
Officials from Angelina College (AC) and the Angelina County and Cities Health District (ACCHD) gathered recently for a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony officially signaling the opening of a new Public Health Resource Center located on the AC campus.
AC president Dr. Michael Simon said such a service has been a college priority since he arrived, and despite the pandemic’s interruption, the center would provide much-needed support for Angelina College students and staff.
“When I first arrived here, I asked what we as a college were doing well, and I asked about the areas in need of improvement,” Simon said. “One of the issues discussed most was the need for an on-campus health facility serving both our students and our staff.
“Through our collaborations and partnerships with area health professionals, we were able to bring this idea to fruition, and what you’re seeing today is the result of a lot of planning and hard work on the part of people who wanted to see this happen.”
The new center, located in AC’s Hudgins Hall, will provide free services to AC students and staff. Those services include medical services from the ACCHD and overall well-being services from the Burke Center for those in need.
Sharon Shaw, chief executive officer of the ACCHD, said the ceremony was the culmination of extensive effort from all parties involved.
“This is such a great opportunity for us to work together,” Shaw said. “We had a vision back in 2019 to start putting something together for students. We had an interruption with the pandemic, but we got back on track quickly. In fact, the interruption in a way highlighted just how much of a need existed.
“Dr. Simon has been fabulous with kind of shepherding this idea of putting public health and community college together. Now, more than ever, it’s important to create a resilient environment.”
Shaw noted how AC’s efforts throughout the past couple of years showed just how valuable such a partnership could be.
“The college came to our aid with the mask and vaccination clinics,” Shaw said “The health careers poured out and worked the clinics, and Dr. Simon even drove a golf cart to help the elderly get to their vaccinations. We were able to forge such a great bond.
“We are the only local health department to have a collaborative effort with a community college, to put public health services, public health mentality and the possibility of some curriculum building on preparedness in the future. This really is ground-breaking.”