CLYDE — Despite a delayed student move-in at Haywood Community College’s Health Sciences Education building still under construction, there is plenty of good news about the state-of-the-art building that will open in October.
Rising interest costs and construction prices have taken a toll on plenty of construction projects, said Shelley White, HCC president. But luckily, the health sciences building started before the sharp increases occurred, allowing the $7.8 million facility to be completed within its budget.
“We were even able to incorporate a couple of the alternative add-ons and stay within budget,” she said.
The original move-in date was to be mid-spring in 2022, but supply chain issues lingering from the COVID pandemic had extended that opening to the fall, said Brek Lanning, HCC director of campus development.
Now, work on the structure is anticipated to wrap up by late August. That will allow the needed time to install the high-tech equipment and be sure it works properly, and should give instructors time to move supplies into the new facility before students are brought into the building during the fall break toward mid-October.
A grand opening is planned in late October once students have moved in, allowing visitors to see all aspects of the building, White said.
A quick peek
White and Lanning provided a tour of the new facility early last week.
The building was designed to complement the natural beauty of the campus, White said, pointing to the exterior wood, concrete, extensive natural lighting and exquisite landscape that can be viewed from the multiple windows in the building.
“I think this building is very intentional top fit with the spirit of the campus and does a good job bringing a modern feel,” White said.
Inside offers plenty of common space were students can congregate on a tiered area to study, charge phones/computers or work on group projects. On the ground floor common area, there will be comfortable spaces where students can do school work before or between classes.
The classrooms and lab spaces are purposefully spacious to allow for future growth and provide a sharp contrast to the currently cramped lab and class areas.
College leaders are thrilled with the latest available equipment that will be available to students in the program, thanks to grants.
The $334,000 Golden Leaf Foundation grant will fund the simulation lab equipped with programmable, high-fidelity mannequins that provide life-like patient care experiences to students.
The college currently has one low-fidelity mannequin and two high-fidelity mannequins, but the grant will provide eight new mannequins where instructors can program health crisis events such as a stroke, heart attack or other emergency from behind a one-way glass window. Student responses will be filmed so they watch and discuss care steps with educators.
The technology is so advanced, explained Lanning, that midway through treatment, the person operating the program can change the outcome path to broaden learning experiences. There are three different camera angles from which a student response to the crisis can be filmed, allowing for maximum learning opportunities for reviewing and discussing the film.
“The type of learning opportunities are unlimited,” White said. “It will prepare students for clinic experiences, and is even better in some instances, because the simulators can provide unique and more rare situations than they would see in real life.”
Each mannequin has different features — an infant, a pregnant woman, a geriatric patient, for example, and will allow students an opportunity to experience various types of patient situations, she added. Each mannequin is in a hospital bed just like ones graduates would encounter in the workforce.
In the nursing skills labs, there are multiple beds where students can practice different skills on each other, such as transferring patients from a gurney to a bed or prepping them for surgery.
An $80,000 machine, also purchased with a grant from a generous donor, will allow students to see a cross-section of the human body as if it were being autopsied, White said. The hospital bed can either be tilted for viewing, or the view can be projected on an oversized screen above.
White anticipates the new facility will be a significant draw for new students considering the spacious building and latest technology to those in the program.
Once the building is in use, she expects groups such as the high school HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) clubs, students who are dually enrolled in high school and college classes, along with early college students, to be touring the building.
“I absolutely anticipate there will be a higher level of interest in health occupations because of this expansion,” she said.
The building comes at an opportune time when health professions across the nation are experiencing unprecedented shortages. It is projected 1.2 million new registered nurses will be needed by 2030 to address the current shortage, and patient demand is expected to rise given the growing aging population.
The new building will allow the number of two-year nursing degree students at HCC to increase from 38 to 50, and will serve 15 students per year studying licensed practical nursing. There will also be an EMS/paramedic program offered, which is a two-year program.
In addition to the classrooms, there is an 88-seat lecture hall.
The Health Sciences Education Building was made possible through a $5.8 million Haywood Healthcare Foundation grant, along with college capital funding and the NC Connect Bond. Additional grants provided the equipment. Ground was broken for the project in March 2021.