In a live interview Friday morning on KAST 1370 Clatsop Community College President Larry Galizio talked in some detail about a proposal under study to create a new Health and Wellness Center in cooperation with Columbia Memorial Hospital and the city of Astoria. He said the center would be of benefit to the College in providing a replacement for the "seismically problematic" Patriot Hall which was built in the 1940's and he says is considered dangerous. Patriot Hall houses the college gym and physical fitness facility. The new wellness center would serve to replace the old gym and he said it could go beyond that and include allied health programs. Galizio told KAST's Tom Freel that the college does have nursing and medical assistant programs but under this plan they would look to add such things as medical billing, medical transcription and addiction councilor programs. He said those are the professions that a student can train in for a two year period and then go out and get a job. The college is currently working with a firm named SRG which is exploring not only where the center might be constructed but how it might be built to contain everything needed. Columbia memorial is interested in the Wellness center concept as a solution to the cramped quarters currently used for their Cardiac rehab program which is also used, when available, for the hospital staff as a workout space The idea is to place a new building somewhere near the Astoria Aquatic Center in order to tie that resource into the mix. President Galizio said that the County is another potential partner in the effort.
Up to $8 million in funding may be available from the State of Oregon but it comes with a challenge. If the College manages to qualify for the capital improvement funds it would require a 50% match. When asked if the college would go the direction of asking voters for a bond to fund the match Galizio said that would be very difficult so not likely. The college would have a six year period in which to provide that matching value. The college has $1 million dollars awarded in a recent lawsuit involving a failed proposal to provide student housing that could be re-purposed to apply to the wellness center. He said that the hospital would provide some of that funding and if the city where to grant the land necessary that value would also apply. Beyond that some fundraising might be necessary, or the college might use the new market tax credit strategy that was used to build the new facilities on the main campus. At this point the state has said it would take the top 10 capital projects submitted by all the community colleges in the state. Right now Clatsop Community College is at number thirteen on that list. Galizio says he is lobbying to bring that top ten down to the top thirteen instead.
Galizio stressed that the Health and Wellness Center project is separate from the proposal under consideration to establish a student clinic at Astoria High School. The student clinic is under development by the county health department in cooperation with the Astoria School District and Coastal Family Health Center.