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‘Exceptional enthusiasm’: Feasibility study backs Demopolis as best for healthcare school

Citing the city’s “exceptional enthusiasm” and “unwavering motivation,” a feasibility study supports Demopolis to be the home of a Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences.

The study by Tripp Umbach, a firm that has completed more than 100 feasibility studies globally for both medical and health science programs, was sanctioned by the Legislature and named Demopolis as the clear choice for the school.

“Demopolis … stands out due to its exceptional enthusiasm, unwavering motivation, secured funding, strategically chosen site location, potential for a comprehensive hospital partnership, and alignment with the vision outlined in the funding bill,” the study said.

RELATED: Alabama’s future healthcare high school receives $26.4M boost from Bloomberg

Rob Pearson, chairman of the ASHS Foundation, was thrilled with the firm’s findings and made sure to thank all who were involved in making Demopolis the chosen location of the school.

“Obviously we agree with the results of this study, and we have had a front-row seat to seeing the entire Demopolis community support this school,” said Pearson. “When you add up the support we’ve received, not only from Gov. Ivey and members of the Alabama Legislature, but from national organizations like Bloomberg Philanthropies, we have no doubt that Demopolis is the most feasible location to host a statewide, residential high school.

“We’re committed to continuing our work as a foundation to supporting the healthcare workforce needs of Alabama through this school.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who initiated the idea for the school last year, mentioned the feasibility study last week in her State of the State Address when she called on members of the Legislature to approve the school.

RELATED: Ivey calls for approval of Alabama healthcare sciences high school in Demopolis

“… The feasibility report commissioned by the Legislature last year has once again validated Demopolis as the ideal location for this important school – folks, let’s get this important project done,” Ivey said.

Some of the important findings of the feasibility study are:

  • The consulting team conducted in-depth site visits to seven Alabama communities over three months in late 2023 and early 2024.
  • The consulting team believes a state-supported Alabama-based health science-focused   high school is feasible.
  • Survey results from healthcare professionals show a high level of interest in having a health science high school, a strong interest in teaching, and a high degree of openness to teaching in a suburban or small-town rural setting.
  • The proposed residential specialized health science high school will position graduates to continue their education to fill the thousands of available healthcare positions.

Based on findings from a statewide statistically significant survey of more than 600 parents and guardians, respondents are interested in sending high school-aged children to a rural/suburban area in Alabama.

The reasons the feasibility study ranked Demopolis as the best city for the school include:

  • Area High School Support
  • Community Support/Secured a Grant Donation
  • Higher Education Partnerships
  • Local Public School System Quality
  • Proximity to Medical Facilities
  • School Division Diversity
  • Site Proximity to Comprehensive Hospital (e.g., walking distance)
  • State Support from Colleges and Universities (Particularly UAB)
  • Technology Infrastructure

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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