By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — A collaborative effort between St. Ambrose University and Genesis Health Systems led to the building and recent dedication of a state-of-the-art health sciences building.
The $11.5 million St. Ambrose University Center for Health Sciences Education at Genesis, dedicated Aug. 26, is a two-story, 40,000-square-foot building at the corner of Marquette and Lombard streets in Davenport on the Genesis West campus.
“As a result of the wonderful collaboration with Genesis Health System and the generosity of many, this state-of-the-art facility will help prepare even more highly qualified health-care professionals to serve our community,” said St. Ambrose University President Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ. “And in these challenging economic times, I am also pleased that the construction of this new facility has also provided jobs for fellow Quad-Citians.”
Genesis provided more than $3 million in support for the project, including the donation of land and site work. Doug Cropper, president and CEO of Genesis Health Systems, said the new St. Ambrose center “is an investment in the Quad-Cities community. We believe in supporting the education of health-care professionals who will deliver the highest level of patient care.”
In addition to the large donation from Genesis, U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin and U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley helped secure $1.6 million in funding for the facility.
Bishop Martin Amos blessed the new building and sprinkled holy water throughout the facility. “… This building has already begun to serve our community as a place of learning and training for health professionals. The God of mercies showers his blessings and love in a particular way on those who are in distress, and on those who are sick, and on those who assist and minister to the sick in any way. We pray that God’s presence and healing grace will always be felt here and discovered in the hearts of all who study here and train to be health-care workers.”
Tours of the facility followed. The physical therapy, occupational therapy and nursing departments are under one roof now, explained Sandra Cassady, associate dean of St. Ambrose’s College of Education and Health Sciences and director of the physical therapy program. The first floor houses the majority of the classrooms and some offices and also is home to a skills lab, medication room and simulation rooms.
The skills lab is where a dozen patient beds and several simulation dummies are located. Each bed has medical equipment typically found in a hospital room. Male, female and child dummies are programmable. “We can program different sounds, rates, such as pulse and blood pressure, and some limited vocals,” said Mary Lou Kaney, assistant professor of nursing, while demonstrating on one of the dummies. “We want to make this as realistic as possible. The students make decisions in a safe environment.” Students and fellow teachers can be in the same room or observe through a one-way observation room.
The second floor includes two classrooms, offices and labs for home health (set up like a home situation), design/fabrication (making items adaptable for people with a variety of disabilities), kinesiology, sensorimotor (pediatrics), human performance and therapeutics. Some of the labs, such as home health, feature lower-level cabinets for someone in a wheelchair. Through the various labs, students from all three departments can work within their own departments or together.
“The facility is a big plus for the university,” Cassady said.
Lindsay Miller, a senior nursing student, said the new facility will enhance the student opportunities to prepare for their clinical work. “Now when they turn on oxygen, there is a sound. You can hear it and know what to listen for.”
Miller has a few classes at the new facility, but spends the rest of her time doing clinical experience.
Joe Haverkamp, a 2009 doctorate of physical therapy graduate, teaches classes and takes additional classes at the new facility which he described as unbelievable. “We can now have more students and more staff and have access to health care ideas we didn’t have before.”
Collaborative effort prepares nurses, therapists
Discussion about a health sciences building began in 2002; the initial announcement was made in 2004 and ground was broken for the facility in May 2009.
The physical therapy, occupational therapy and nursing programs were spread throughout the main Locust Street campus.
Sandra Cassady said St. Ambrose and Genesis decided to collaborate on this state-of-the-art facility to prepare highly qualified nurses and therapists to serve the Quad Cities and Midwest region of the country.
The associate dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences and professor and director of the physical therapy department also added that both organizations are committed to workforce development — an important component of health care reform. “In addition to providing educational programming for preparing new health sciences professionals, the Center for Health Sciences Education will provide facilities for post-professional degrees and continuing education.
“By holding classes on a medical center campus, faculty and students should have more learning opportunities.” Genesis already serves as a clinical site for clinical education and fieldwork for the departments of nursing, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, she said.
“Employees of Genesis and other area health professionals involved in patient care should find these classrooms and teaching laboratories conveniently located for their on-going education.”
Shuttles from the main St. Ambrose University campus on Locust Street take students to and from the health sciences building several times a day. No student parking is allowed at the health sciences building.