BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG)—Binghamton University officials unveiled its nursing school’s new home in Johnson City on Monday.
While plans for the new Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences facility pre-date the pandemic by several years, its opening comes at a time when many hospitals face nursing shortages.
A Critical Moment
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who attended the building’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, said it is crucial that new nurses are trained to serve in places facing staffing gaps.
“This is going to address a critical need that we have right now,” Hochul said.
Binghamton University offers an accelerated single-year degree as well as a four-year undergraduate program.
The governor said the accelerated option could be good for people looking to change careers after losing their job during the pandemic.
“A lot of people are still floundering,” Hochul continued. “The job they always knew is gone. Why not look at the opportunity to bring back the health of people in need?”
University officials said applications for its nursing programs have increased since the start of the pandemic and the new facility could allow them to expand enrollment, as well as train and hire more nurse educators.
Transforming The Economy
The programs are housed in the repurposed Endicott-Johnson Shoe Corporation shoe box factory, located at 48 Corliss Ave.
The company opened the factory in 1916 and for decades was an anchor of the region’s economy. It left the factory in the 1970s, according to the Press and Sun-Bulletin.
The century-old factory, which stood vacant and blighted for years, has now been adopted as one of several properties on the university’s 11-acre health sciences campus in Johnson City.
Hochul said the state’s investment into the village’s infrastructure will also boost its surroundings.
“For those who came past this building when it was abandoned—I’m from Buffalo, I know what abandoned buildings look like,” Hochul said. “But I also know what transformation looks and feels like, and it changes the psyche of a community.”
The state invested $287 million for STEM programs at Binghamton University. Just under half of the money—$131 million—has gone toward the health sciences facility.
Increasing Vaccine Confidence
While congratulating the university on its health science advancements, Hochul received her COVID-19 booster shot.
When asked whether the state would reopen its mass vaccination sites, Hochul said with vaccines in ample supply, it may not be necessary.
“If there ends up being long lines and crowds and shortages, I can bring this up very quickly, we know how to do that and we have the partners ready, but I don’t anticipate that right now,” she said.
The governor was initially vaccinated in March with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and on Monday received a dose of Moderna. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said it is okay to mix and match shots for the booster dose.
Vaccination rates in the Southern Tier lag behind the statewide average. In Broome County, 67 percent of adults are fully vaccinated, Hochul said, compared to nearly 78 percent of adults statewide.
Hochul said she wants New Yorkers to feel confident in the booster and in vaccinations for kids. The governor said she has asked schools and pediatricians to prepare to vaccinate children as soon as the CDC and Food and Drug Administration give clearance.
“They’ve been vaccinated before. This is not a radical concept, and so that’s the message we need to get out so our kids in school can finally be little kids again and just play and not worry about this,” Hochul said. “The vaccine will give them and their parents that sense of security.”
If approved, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine could be available for children ages 5 to 11 as soon as November.