$18.5 million USI Health Professions Center renovations underway
Multi-phase project includes new high-tech classrooms, labs and space for program growth
July 6, 2023
An $18.5 million renovation of the University of Southern Indiana’s Health Professions Center, which houses the University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, began in early May, promising not only a fresh look for portions of the interior of the 29-year-old building, but more importantly, state-of-the-art laboratory equipment to enhance student learning and highlight the latest in healthcare technology. The renovations also poise many programs for future growth.
Funding for the design fees, construction, furniture and equipment is from the Indiana General Assembly’s capital funding appropriation for USI approved during the 2019 legislative session, according to Jim Wolfe, Director of Facility Operations and Planning at USI. This is part of a multi-phase project in the Health Professions Center that began when the Evansville campus of the Indiana University School of Medicine (ISUM) on the third floor relocated to the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences in downtown Evansville in 2018. That move led to a renovation of the former IUSM space to accommodate growing health professions programs.
A final phase of the project, expected to begin in 2024, will utilize an additional $49 million provided by the Indiana General Assembly in the 2023 legislative session and includes renovation of the second-floor office areas and the remainder of the first floor.
“USI is already well-known throughout the region and the state for educational excellence in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, and these renovations will further enhance learning opportunities for students in all of our programs,” said Steve Bridges, USI Vice President for Finance and Administration. “And because the majority of our graduates tend to stay in the Indiana after graduation, USI is helping meet our state’s healthcare workforce needs and ultimately improve care for all Hoosiers.”
The current $18.5 million phase includes the lower level and part of the first floor. One of the major changes on the first floor includes transforming Mitchell Auditorium, a multi-tiered lecture hall, into a state-of-the-art radiology suite, equipped with several new imaging machines and a large classroom. A new 250-capacity auditorium will be built during the project’s final phase and will carry on the naming legacy of longtime University donors, the late William H. and Trudy Mitchell.
On the lower level, there are plans for a new clinical simulation center, anatomy lab, student lounge area and a teaching kitchen and food science lab for the Food and Nutrition program. Below is a breakdown of the current phase of the project.
Clinical Simulation Center
Currently, the Clinical Simulation Center has rooms and supplies on both the second floor and lower level. Plans are to move everything to the lower level and create four distinct spaces to conduct simulations using various modalities:
- Intensive care unit (ICU)
- Emergency room
- Exam room including equipment for pediatric simulations and skills practice
- Post-acute care setting
There will also be new classrooms for simulation pre-briefing and debriefing and a virtual reality room to enable students to use the most up-to-date technology to assist learning.
“We are excited for the renovation of the Health Professions Center including the expanded space for the Clinical Simulation Center,” says Beth Thompson, Director of Instructional Resources and Simulation. “Having a larger space with specialized areas and new equipment like what will be encountered in their future workplaces will enable our students to learn together during interprofessional education (IPE) scenarios and skills practice.”
Food and Nutrition program
During an earlier phase of construction, USI’s Food and Nutrition program moved to the remodeled third floor of USI’s Health Professions Center with a new Quantity Food Kitchen containing commercial-grade appliances. This area will continue to be used to teach students how to prepare food for large groups. The current renovation will revamp the program’s lower-level test kitchen and food science space with three new areas: teaching kitchen, food science lab and additional classroom space.
“The new food science lab aids in meeting accreditation guidelines,” says Dr. Beth Young, Interim Chair of the Food and Nutrition program. “This will be a much-improved space for our students to learn the physical and chemical properties of food and conduct food science research.”
Young says the new ADA-accessible teaching kitchen will be designed to allow more community engagement with cooking classes and nutrition education.
Radiologic and Imaging Sciences programs
The new radiology suite on the first floor will contain:
- Two portable X-ray machines, designed to be used in many settings, such as the patient’s room, ICU, emergency room and surgery
- MRI simulator
- CT scanner
- Four digital imaging rooms capable of producing X-rays
- Radiologic and Imaging Sciences classroom
Dr. Joy Cook, Chair of Radiologic and Imaging Sciences, says students in her program will gain valuable experience using new equipment and technology when the renovation is complete. “This will make the transition to clinical training easier for them as they will have had the experience with the same type of digital equipment used in the healthcare environment today,” she says.
Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting programs
This fall, students, faculty, staff and visitors can expect a remodeled USI Dental Clinic with a larger waiting room, modern dental equipment and additional lab space.
Dental program improvements include:
- Expanded dental clinic to 18 operatories
- Construction of a new dedicated Dental Assisting Simulation Laboratory
- Increased capacity in the Dental Materials Laboratory
“The new Dental Clinic Suite will contain an increased number of patient stations available for student use,” says Dr. Kimberly Hille, Interim Assistant Dean of Health Professions. “This, along with the additional laboratory space, will allow USI to potentially increase the enrollment capacity in our programs to better serve the needs of our community.”
According to Hille, these improvements and new, state-of-the-art dental equipment will allow USI to provide students with “exceptional training using cutting-edge technology, so they are best equipped to transition to professional practice when they graduate.”
The USI Dental Clinic will be closed for remodeling through late August. Patients needing dental records during this time should call 812-464-1706. Phone calls to make an appointment for the Fall Semester will be accepted in August.