Nursing and health sciences students and faculty at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park have a beautiful new facility to train for skilled health careers of today and tomorrow with the opening of the Center of Nursing and Health Sciences.
“In this new educational center, students will be transformed into medical professionals who serve and benefit everyone here in our community,” said Bill Hubble, dean of STLCC District Health Sciences.
“STLCC students will receive knowledge and be immersed in state of the art simulated environments to receive high quality training, and develop medical skills necessary to perform in dental hygiene, dental assisting, nursing, respiratory care, radiologic technology, diagnostic medical technology, clinical laboratory technology, surgical technology, emergency medical technology, and paramedic technology.”
There are currently 444 nursing students enrolled in nursing.
Hubble says the estimated cost for the entire nursing program is $17,000. And, he said the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX) pass rates “compare and meet with the results of other high-quality nursing programs. In 2018, the average pass rate for NCLEX was 94% for STLCC students.”
The ribbon-cutting celebration for the new building, led by STLCC Chancellor Jeff L. Pittman, took place Friday, August 23. It is the first new building constructed at the campus in 20 years.
“For our students, the college is a pathway from secondary education to a four-year degree or a career or job,” said Julie Fickas, campus president and chief academic officer at STLCC-Forest Park. “For our region to flourish, college is a responsive resource for an educated and skilled workforce.” Fickas added that the new center will help address the critical skills gap that exists in the health care work force.
Health science programs at STLCC also train students for careers in fire protection, funeral services, occupational therapy assistant, physical therapist assistant and respiratory care.
“I believe the environment that a student learns must be conducive to what the student is learning, so I am excited about this facility,” state Senator Karla May, an STLCC alumni, said at the event. “I appreciate the partnership that we invest in our future, we invest in our students and with this type of investment, we will continue to produce the brightest and most talented workforce in the health care industry.”
Linda Martinez, deputy mayor for development for the city of St. Louis, said with over eight major hospitals and medical centers, dozens of outpatient health care centers and two major medical schools, “this is among many reasons why we are grateful St. Louis Community College has chosen to invest in the latest technology, critical lab spaces, learning experiences for these in-demand programs.”
The $39 million, 96,000 sq. ft. center has a dental clinic, allied health, science labs and classrooms, simulation labs, teaching area, flexible space and seating, innovation space, natural light and is certified LEED Silver. An STLCC spokeswoman said funding for the Center for Nursing and Health Sciences comes from wraparound finances with bonds the college already owned. The college will only pay interest on new bonds until existing bonds are paid off. The Board of Trustees approved the cost and financing structure in August 2017 to have a minimal impact on the STLCC’s operating budget.
Pittman said the building was built on time and within budget.
St. Louis-based KAI Enterprises and Tarlton led the design and construction. STLCC stated that many contractors involved in the project are designated women- or minority-owned business enterprises.
Sandra Rotty, vice president at Tarlton, said, “The single design and implementation of construction along a very diverse group of contractors, tradesmen and artisans are a direct representation of the college’s progressive thinking about requirements in today’s environment.”
The new Health and Sciences Center also becomes the new front door to the STLCC Forest Park campus, which is located at 5600 Oakland Ave. in St. Louis.