St. Louis Community College is adding its first new building on the Forest Park campus in 20 years.
The new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences will include up-to-date science labs, classrooms, a dental clinic and innovative teaching spaces.
Jeff Pittman, the chancellor of the college, said the goal of the new facility is not only to create more space for students — some of whom are on a waiting list for certain programs within the department — but also to address the overall health care shortage in the region.
“Particularly the hospitals are having a difficult time finding a skilled workforce,” Pittman said. “So really, the concept and the vision behind this building was to be able to expand our capacity, to be able to better partner with the area health care providers, and to be able to meet their workforce needs.”
According to a 2016 State of St. Louis Workforce report, 44 percent of health care employers in the region noted that there was a shortage of skilled and knowledgeable workers. In St. Louis, the vacancy rate for nurses is 18.8 percent, which is slightly higher than the statewide rate of 17.9 percent, according to a report from the Missouri Hospital Association.
Makenzie Straatmann, a dental hygiene student at the college, said the new facility is a much needed change to their outdated “leaky clinic chairs” and occasional equipment failures they’re facing right now. She said the new building will give patients she’s working with their privacy back.
“We have an open bay clinic, which patients are right back to back to each other,” Straatmann said. “We can hear each others’ conversations. And the new clinic is going to offer some confidentiality to those patients. And it’s going to be more realistic — what you would see out in the real world.”
Straatmann said using modernized equipment and labs will help prepare her for the workforce.
The $39-million facility is expected to open to students and faculty in fall of 2019. Construction is set to start April 1.
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