As published in Toledo Business Journal - September 1, 2018

Rendering of the planned Center for Health Science Education & Innovation

Rendering of the planned Center for Health Science Education & Innovation

Rhodes State to construct $17M facility

Rhodes State College is in the beginning stages of planning its Center for Health Science Education & Innovation, a $17 million facility to be constructed in downtown Lima. According to Dr. Debra L. McCurdy, president of Rhodes State College, the facility involves the integration of higher education, business and industry, and government.

“The facility is really involving all of our health science programs. It likely could involve other communities as well, so we may have a space for a general schooling area and it may include a place for entrepreneurship as well and really just creating a learning-type atmosphere, “ said McCurdy. “But basically we are looking at health sciences – including nursing, respiratory, among others – and it may involve other parts of our allied health programs as well, but we are still finalizing what programs will go into that facility. If we look at what is going on in the vision for downtown, that’s all a part of what is going to transpire here as we come together to plan this facility and the downtown area. It really is an effort of all of these entities – education, business and industry, and government – and we’ve received great support.”

The initial plans for the facility is for it to be around 50,000 square feet, depending on the design and how it works out with the architect, noted McCurdy. The architect has not yet been selected as it is early in the planning stages, but once selected and the building is laid out, the school will have a better idea of what it entails and will begin deciding and selecting which programs will be included in the building.

“It’s worth noting that the driving need for this project is our growth. When we originally started planning this facility, we were originally looking at the project on-site at our campus. But as we talked more at the executive level and with the board of trustees, it made more sense to think about taking the resources and moving it into the downtown area,” said McCurdy.

She noted that downtown Lima is uniquely situated right in the middle of two major hospitals, which are each about a mile apart.

“So this facility will be smack in the middle of the downtown area and right between these hospitals – which is all a part of economic growth and development – and it’s all a part of our response to the workforce needs. Many of the students in our programs work at these hospitals for clinicals and other kinds of training, so it’s really an opportunity for the hospitals to interface with us differently,” said McCurdy. “We’re looking at having the kinds of lead technology and the kinds of state-of-the-art equipment that the hospitals may be interested in, where they can send their nurse practitioners, where they can train and upgrade their skills and education, so this is an opportunity for the hospitals to have a training function, for nurse practitioners to come to this facility and train on state-of-the-art equipment.

Keese Hall at Rhodes State College

Keese Hall at Rhodes State College

McCurdy noted that Rhodes State is looking for support from the hospitals in terms of the kind of equipment and technology needed and keeping pace in what’s needed in the workplace so the hospital employees can train, and in turn, Rhodes State can have its students train on this lead technology and state-of-the-art equipment as well.

“The driving need for this facility is really what’s going on in the healthcare industry and the positions that are going to be needed in the industry. In states like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and parts of Indiana, what we’re seeing is an escalation for the need of healthcare workers at all levels. So we needed to expand the space, we needed new training and educational facilities for our students, and it made sense that we could partner with local business, local industry, local government, as well as State support, in putting this facility downtown,” said McCurdy.

Some of the technology included could be a human patient simulator, in which McCurdy sees benefitting the faculty and students.

“The facility will have a lot of virtual context to it so we will be able to bring in a lot of learning from other places in. It’s not just a place with traditional classrooms with monitors and screens, but this will be a virtual learning environment as well. So whether they are human patient simulators or other types of simulation, a lot of that can be virtually dominated and it should be because that allows us to quickly make the kinds of upgrades and changes that the students need and it helps with teaching as well,” said McCurdy.

McCurdy noted that Rhode State’s health science programs are of high quality with pass rates above state and national averages. Some of its programs even have 100% pass rates on qualified and certified exams. She expects the same quality of education in the new facility, and mentioned that employer surveys give high regard to the school’s alumni.

“Some students stay in the area, some students move across the region or to different counties and cities, but there’s no argument about the quality of Rhodes State’s education and in turn, that education showing in the workplace. The quality overall is high across the board, but certainly, our health science programs are leaders in the state in terms of what we provide,” said McCurdy.

The City of Lima, Rhodes State, the State of Ohio, and local entities have helped this project move forward through partnership and funding. It was noted that the City has provided a great level of assistance by helping with the demolition of properties where the center will be located, as well as renovating existing properties into new structures. McCurdy noted that there is a condominium type structure going directly across the street from the center, as well as food establishments, coffee shops, and likely a difference in the type of transportation and security services downtown.

“We’re seeing a lot of activity and will start seeing a lot more foot traffic downtown that wouldn’t likely be there without this project. This is a tremendous project and it is certainly one that will help change Lima. This is a project that will provide a great deal of sustainability and impact the growth to rejuvenate downtown Lima. It’s a huge investment for this community and it’s one that we look to for pride as the investment brings all of the entities together,” concluded McCurdy.


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