University of Kansas opens Salina Health Education Center
June 22, 2018
By Kristi Birch
The Salina campuses of the University of Kansas Schools of Medicine and Nursing officially got a new home June 21 with the grand opening of the Salina Health Education Center, a newly renovated space downtown.
The two schools are now housed in the former bank building on Santa Fe Avenue that was purchased by the Salina Regional Health Foundation in 2016 and renovated with the support of the several hundred individuals and organizations including the KU Endowment Association who contributed to the Blueprint for Rural Health campaign.
“Community support is responsible for this new building. This building was not built with a dollar—really not even a nickel—of state funds or university funds. This was all built with private philanthropy,” said William Cathcart-Rake, M.D., dean of the KU School of Medicine–Salina.
A grand opening celebration was held at 5 p.m. to formally open the new facility and to thank educators and community donors for making the new home a reality. In addition to Cathcart-Rake, speakers at the event included Douglas A. Girod, M.D., chancellor of the University of Kansas; Robert D. Simari, M.D., executive vice chancellor and interim executive dean of the KU School of Medicine; Sally L. Maliski, Ph.D., RN, dean of the KU School of Nursing; and Michael Terry, president and CEO of the Salina Regional Health Center.
“This is a great day for KU and a great day for Kansas,” said Girod. “This new facility will help us to serve our state by providing underserved areas with more doctors and nurses who will help Kansans lead healthier and more productive lives.”
The $9 million renovation will provide the same kinds of cutting-edge simulation technology, clinical and anatomy labs and flexible learning spaces found in the Health Education Building that opened last year at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. These features are critical to the medical school’s new ACE (Active, Competency based and Excellence driven) curriculum and the curriculum for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Both schools in Salina follow the same curricula as their larger counterparts on the Kansas City campus. Students in both programs in Salina gain clinical experience at the Salina Regional Health Center.
Since opening in 2011, the KU Medical School–Salina had been based out of the Braddick Building at Salina Regional Health Center. In 2017, the new KU School of Nursing opened in Salina and has been sharing space in Braddick with the medical school. At more than 40,000 square feet, the new building nearly triples the space the two schools occupied in Braddick, which is critical if the campus is to address the shortage of well trained nurses and physicians in the state. There will be 24 nursing students and 32 medical students on the Salina campus this fall, but by 2021 the number of nursing students is expected to increase to 48 and there are plans to increase the number of medical students as well.
"Part of our mission is fulfilling the needs of nursing through the state, especially BSN-prepared nurses in rural areas and western Kansas," said Maliski. "We are so fortunate to have this new facility so that we can increase our efforts to meet that demand.”
The new Salina Health Education Center also facilitates interprofessional learning, ensuring that nursing and medical students understand the roles each profession plays and participate in training together so that they already know how to work as a team once they graduate. “The nursing and medical students do two or three simulations together each semester,” said Lisa Larson, Ph.D., RN, assistant dean of the KU School of Nursing-Salina. “With the new space, they will be interacting even more, through simulations and also informally. We’d like to get them involved in doing some community service projects together.”
Six artists from across the state were selected to create pieces for the building. Their artworks, which includes painting, glasswork, sculpture, and collages, were inspired by the two schools’ dedication to rural health care. The basement has a workout room, kitchen, and a lounge area with an electric piano, foosball and a pool table.
“From a university and state standpoint, this new facility is one of the most tangible examples of outreach into the state of Kansas that we’ve ever had from KU Medical Center,” said Simari. “We are really excited about it.”