PMC Project HEART increasing opportunities locally | News

Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) Project HEART (Healthcare, Employment, Around, Regional, Training) has been nearly four years in the making and was formally announced during a press conference featuring Governor Andy Beshear in early July during the introduction of the Galen College of Nursing campus in Pikeville.

While PMC has spearheaded Project HEART, many entities have banded together to create educational and job opportunities here in the region ranging from healthcare organizations to colleges/universities and those seeking to enter the healthcare workforce.


According to PMC President and CEO Donovan Blackburn, the Project HEART initiative expanded far beyond the initial intent of combatting the nursing shortage and began targeting even more healthcare career opportunities.

“Our mission was to seek partners to help train, recruit and retain positions not only LPNs but RNs, Emergency Department Technicians, Patient Care Technicians, Phlebotomists and other healthcare careers,” Blackburn said. “These positions range anywhere from $12-$13 and hour up to $30 some an hour so it’s a full spectrum.”

The main stumbling block to filling these positions was the lack of availability of training here in the region, locally for people to be trained and be job ready.

“PMC has a new recruitment and retention team, and with that team we’ve been able to hire 108 new RNs in the past two months or so,” Blackburn said. “But beyond that number, we’ve had a gain of 160 new employees so we’re

actually hiring people through these programs.”

One part of that, he said, is reaching out to high school students to educate them on


“There is now a CAN program in every county high school and we appreciate Pike County Superintendent Reed Adkins in making this possible,” Blackburn said. “There were 750 juniors and seniors who showed up for programs we had in area high schools; 350 of them expressed an interest in being an RN.”

Non-traditional students are also part of the outreach.

“Even though a lot of the people going into these programs are traditional students, many are non-traditional students,” Blackburn said. “Because all of the positions created aren’t just two- and four-year programs but many are certified positions meaning training can take 8 to 10 weeks in some cases and then they are ready to go to work.”

Blackburn said that, because of the success in working with the Pike County Schools District, PMC has expanded Project HEART into schools in the surrounding counties.

The partners working together, Blackburn said, is what is making the program work.

“We couldn’t do this by ourselves,” Blackburn said. “We have many partners involved in Project HEART in various fields including KCTCS, Galen College of Nursing, UPike, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.”

But the partnerships include other entities besides educational facilities.

“Our partners also include EKCEP which has provided $804,248 in tuition assistance for people who want to pursue a career opportunity in the medical field,Big Sandy Community Action Program, SOAR, Riverplace, ARH, ANU, Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration and Congressman Hal Rogers’ office and even the recently-announced $14 million vocational school at Millard will have several healthcare programs available for student to attain certifications.

“With everything coming together, Project HEART program has made nearly $26 million in the last two years in investments to make education offerings and opportunities to fill this job gap,” Blackburn said. “A hospital is like a city within a city, and at PMC we have 3,100 positions that range much more than doctors and nurses and those positions in many instances require some type of certification and now, with these partners, people will no longer have to travel outside the region to get that certification and education, they will be able to get that right here.”

Blackburn said he is excited about the possibilities.

“This is an exciting time in healthcare, and I appreciate all of our partners as we provide opportunities that have never been offered here,” Blackburn said.

For more information on PMC’s Project HEART and the many educational opportunities, visit,

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PMC Project HEART increasing opportunities locally | News


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