By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — Ground was broken May 11 for the health sciences education center, a collaboration between St. Ambrose University and Genesis Health Systems.
More than 300 people attended the ceremony, which was held on the southeast corner of Genesis Medical Center’s west campus.
The $11.5 million, 40,000-square-foot academic building will house St. Ambrose’s nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy programs. Construction is expected to be completed by August 2010.
Bishop Martin Amos blessed the site to keep the workers safe during construction, for students entering the health services field to care for others, for patience and wisdom for teachers and for the continuing spirit of the Mercy nurses who started the original hospital.
Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, president of St. Ambrose, thanked members of local and state government who helped to make the project a reality. In particular, she thanked State Rep. Bruce Braley and U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin who helped secure $1 million of congressionally directed funding for the facility. Rep. Braley, who represents Iowa’s First Congressional District, attended the ceremony.
“We are beginning a partnership,” Sr. Lescinski said. The new health sciences education center will have the space, technology and learning environment for high quality professionals.
She pointed out that St. Ambrose offers one of only 21 orthopedic physical therapy clinical residency programs in the nation. It offers the only master’s level occupation therapy program in Iowa. The university also has a nursing department that offers education from a registered nurse program to master’s in nursing.
“Approximately 75 percent of St. Ambrose nursing graduates remain and practice in the Quad-City area,” Sr. Lescinski said.
So far, $8.5 million has been raised. “We have $3 million to go.” Sr. Lescinski said it has been remarkable to see the generosity from the community despite the tough economy.
Doug Cropper, president and CEO of Genesis Health Systems, said the Sisters of Mercy originally began their mission of serving others at the site where the dedication was held.
In 1869, Sister Mary Borromeo Johnson founded Mercy Hospital. “She is buried on this campus,” Cropper said. He believes Sr. Borromeo would approve of the new site and the continued mission of serving others.
Genesis donated the land for the project and has been a major contributor through the Genesis Health Services Foundation.
Chelsey Hawthorne, a St. Ambrose student and Genesis nurse, said it was fitting that the dedication was during National Nurse’s Week. This is a day of pride for the future of health care in the community, she noted.
“The big winner today is the patients who will be served by the St. Ambrose graduates.”
The new health sciences education center will feature therapeutic procedure, movement, fabrication, simulated inpatient hospital care and home health laboratories as well as high-tech classrooms.
Estes Construction of Davenport is the contractor and the architects are Holland Basham Architects of Omaha and Scholtz, Gowey, Gere, Marolf Architects of Davenport.