Times Record Staff
Students from the paramedic/EMS and practical nursing programs were among the first students to have class in the new health sciences building at the Arkansas Tech-Ozark campus.
The new Health Sciences and Wellness Building was open for business Thursday, according to a news release from Arkansas Tech. The 20,273-square-foot, $4 million facility designed by Crafton Tull and constructed by The Cone Group boasts the latest technology.
“This building will give students more incentive to come here because we have the latest and greatest technology,” Arkansas Tech-Ozark paramedic/EMS student Kelsi Andres said. “It’s like we’re actually in the ambulance. I want to transition into nursing, so the paramedic program gives me the bridge to be able to further my education and become a registered nurse.”
Construction was funded through the sale of revenue bonds, Sam Strasner, Arkansas Tech director of university relations, said.
The Health Sciences and Wellness Building is Arkansas Tech – Ozark’s first two story structure, featuring laboratory and technology expansion, offices for faculty and support staff, a fitness center, student lounge areas and a testing center, the release states. It will house five of the campus’ allied health programs, which include its paramedic, health information technology, physical therapist assistant, practical nursing and registered nursing programs.
“I’m just thrilled with it,” Arkansas Tech – Ozark Practical Nursing Program Chair Ester Leonard said. “I really think the students will rise to the occasion. We’re moving very much to what we want to be, a state-of-the-art campus. We have a lot more technology capabilities, including new simulation labs that will allow us to work students through some stressful situations without the stress of a live patient.”
Arkansas Tech – Ozark is planning a dedication ceremony for the Health Sciences and Wellness Building at 11 a.m. Mar. 17. The public will be invited to tour the building during that time.
“A lot of colleges do not have the ambulance simulator, so that is a big deal for us,” Arkansas Tech – Ozark Paramedic/EMS Program Chair Joshua Freeman said. “We have high-fidelity mannequins that go in it and act almost like a real person. Being able to have that and make it as real as possible for their training is a benefit that we haven’t had in the past. That’s the best part for us.
“We have a standard of excellence throughout our program, and I think now that we have the new building and the new equipment, … the students will be able to see that we have the facilities to achieve that,” Freeman continued. “The realism of the simulation lab and the equipment we have in the classroom will allow us to teach them to the level they need to be able to go out and take care of patients. Ultimately, that is our job.”
The building also has three new computer labs available for student use.
“We have a lot of students who do not have good computer access at home,” Leonard said. “The new computer labs will make a big difference for our students, and the exercise room will get students more involved in activity and promote a healthy lifestyle throughout campus.”