An education program which is helping prepare future medical professionals recently received a boost when Bluefield State University was awarded a $7.145 million Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) award to support the creation of a state-of-the-art health-care training facility at the BSU Medical Education Center, university officials announced Friday.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and U.S. Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va. submitted this Fiscal Year 2024 CDS request for Bluefield State University.

“Bluefield State has been an educational cornerstone in southern West Virginia for generations,” Capito said when the award was announced. “As the leading Republican on the subcommittee that funds these programs, I’m pleased to help secure the support they need to create a new healthcare training facility. I will continue to use my role on the Senate Appropriations Committee to work with entities across West Virginia to understand the needs they have to make the necessary improvements to benefit our state, especially our students.”

Located in the former Bluefield Regional Medical Center, the new Medical Education Center will keep bringing new life to a major facility that may have otherwise stayed vacant.

The former hospital is the home already to student dormitories, classrooms and other facilities. The new training facility will bring even more activity to Mercer County and southern West Virginia as a whole.

“Bluefield State is extremely grateful for the support of West Virginia’s Congressional delegation,” Dr. Darrin Martin, BSU’s Interim President, said about the grant. “This positions the University’s College of Health Sciences to train more healthcare professionals who can address this healthcare access gap in the region, where residents often face a shortage of healthcare professionals and limited access to healthcare facilities.”

The award will be utilized to create two wings at the Medical Education Center, expanding classrooms, laboratory space, and offices for the BSU College of Health Sciences, university officials said. Bluefield State is now offering programs in health care administration, education, imaging science, radiologic technology, sonography, and nursing. This training facility also creates the opportunity to offer additional healthcare programs.

“As a Historically Black University and a STEM University, BSU is uniquely qualified to provide these vitally important educational training and postgraduate employment opportunities for West Virginians,” Martin said.