The School of Nursing will break ground on a high-tech laboratory in May thanks to a $3.65 million donation from the Bentson Foundation, the largest donation ever given to the school.
The Healthy Communities Innovation Center will replace the 25-year-old outdated facility in Weaver-Densford Hall that nursing students are currently using for a skills laboratory and classroom.
The donation for the facility is part of a $6.65 million gift from the foundation, $3 million of which will go toward funding for the current Bentson Family Scholarships program. More than 500 students have received a Bentson scholarship since it was founded in 2003.
The new facility will triple the size of the old one and is expected to open Jan. 13, 2013.
“The renovations are a very long overdue enhancement to the school and will have a profound effect on how we educate the next generation of nurses,” said Biomedical Health Informatics Director and School of Nursing Dean Connie Delaney.
The center will include state-of-the-art classrooms, portable laptops and tablets and a contemporary simulation that puts the students in a workplace setting.
It will also include space for other health science students in order to establish an interprofessional learning community.
The current facility is primarily used by students who are learning the fundamental skills of nursing. After they master these, they go on to their clinical rotations.
Nursing sophomore Ashley Suapaia took class in the current laboratory during her first semester in the program. She said it was possible to learn from the old center, but the materials were outdated and could use improvements.
“A new lab would be really vital to learning because it would be more up-to-date with the health care system,” Suapaia said.
The current facility lacks updated equipment commonly used in professional fields. For example, the beds must be lowered and raised manually, unlike modern beds that move electronically. Using the nonelectrical equipment poses a new challenge for students when they reach their clinical rotations.
“With the new technological times, nurses don’t do everything by hand anymore,” said nursing senior Lauren Quick.
The new lab would also include a home setting, which would allow students to practice skills such as leading patients to and from the bathroom, said nursing senior Hannah Oswald.
With the donation, the School of Nursing has raised more than $6 million toward the $7.8 million project.
“This gift is without a doubt the most important gift to ensure construction of the center,” Delaney said.