Meeting Healthcare Challenges, Today and Tomorrow

Adam Ballart, ’03, associate lecturer of Spanish, discusses Spanish medical terminology with students in the College of Health’s Obstetrics Simulation Lab, one of the Health Professions Building’s nine simulation and skills laboratories.

When Karrie Osborne was an undergraduate nursing student, Ball State’s School of Nursing was packed snuggly into about 5,000 square feet at the Cooper Science Complex on the southwest edge of campus.

Osborne, ’01 MS ’12, said the education she received there was top-notch. But she imagined the possibilities for students and faculty—and for the community—if they had more room for classes, simulation labs, and clinics.

“It was very tight,” Osborne said. “We just needed more space. We were going to have to grow.”

Now, about 20 years later, Ball State’s health professions programs are not only thriving with the space that they need—they have plenty of room for even more growth.

In 2019, Ball State opened the doors to its 165,000-square-foot Health Professions Building. The sparkling, $62.5 million structure features classrooms, laboratories, offices, a resource hub, simulation labs and suites, clinical spaces, and much more.

Students learn about, from, and with one another in an interprofessional environment, integrating expertise and discovery across health-related disciplines. In total, seven schools and departments, and 16 clinics, centers, and labs, that had been strewn across campus are now under one roof.

Osborne, now the College of Health’s director of Clinical Simulation, still marvels at the dramatic transformation.

“This building is beautiful, and there’s light and windows everywhere,” she said. “It really makes a big difference. I think it gives the students a better environment to learn.”

Karrie Osborne

“Interprofessional education is the wave of the future for healthcare, and it’s actually happening right now. These facilities allow our students to work together, learn from each other, and figure out who to consult when they’re out working out in the field.”

— Karrie Osborne

Time to expand

Aligned with Ball State’s Campus Master Plan, the University determined a perfect home for its College of Health to be on the south side of Riverside Avenue, as part of a new East Quad. Adding to this quad, a Foundational Sciences Building is being built as the new home for Chemistry and Biology.

Cooper Science Complex

The 165,000-square-foot structure is designed to promote interprofessional collaboration.

To achieve its vision, the University received approval and funding necessary from the Indiana General Assembly for both buildings. For completion of this three-phased project, the Indiana General Assembly provided funding to renovate 160,000 square feet of the existing Cooper Science Complex and the demolition of 130,000 square feet of the complex’s east end. The University is planning to include a possible outdoor seating/teaching space along the east end of the building.

At an October 18, 2019, ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Health Professions Building, President Geoffrey S. Mearns thanked the Indiana General Assembly for supporting the University’s plan to expand health education to meet the anticipated demand for such professionals in the future.

Together with the Foundational Sciences Building and Cooper renovations, the projects ensure the quality of academic facilities for those pursuing fulfilling careers in healthcare and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields “for decades to come,” said President Mearns.

James Lowe, associate vice president of Facilities Planning and Management, believes the University selected an ideal spot for the two new academic buildings. “They’re on a prominent location, and they also allow us to introduce a new gateway into the campus and expand our reach into the Muncie community.”

As the first of the East Quad structures to open, the Health Professions Building provides a preview of how form and function perfectly combine in learning spaces built to last for generations to come.

Addressing growing demands

Blair Mattern, ’06 AuD ’10, still feels a sense of amazement each morning he walks into the Health Professions Building.

Now director of Interdisciplinary Clinical Operations at the College of Health, Mattern was previously director of the Audiology Clinic and remembers how patients often struggled to find the clinic at its former location in the Arts and Communications Building.

Both the Audiology and Speech-Language clinics were also running out of room to fulfill demand in the community for their high-quality services.

Accordingly, as part of the Health Professions Building’s design, College of Health leadership and faculty established the Interprofessional Community Clinics (ICC).

ICC provides full-service, easily accessible clinics in audiology, counseling, and speech-language, as well as the Healthy Lifestyle Center and the Balance Assessment and Rehabilitation Center. Under the supervision of experienced faculty and licensed health professionals, students work closely with community clients to provide them with affordable, quality care.

Senior Nursing students administered the vaccines.

The Interprofessional Community Clinics serves the community as a COVID-19 vaccination site. Senior Nursing students administered the vaccines while completing clinical hours as part of their Community Health nursing course.

In recent months, ICC has also served as a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, providing a vital service to Ball State students, faculty, and staff, as well as the local community.

“The ICC was tailor-made for something just like this,” Mattern said of the vaccination clinic. “People walk in, they go through the process, they go through the facilities, and they’re leaving with an impression of the investment Ball State has made to engage with our community.”

The Interprofessional Community Clinics are just one key piece in the development of the Health Professions Building. The five-story facility also includes the Welcome Home Suite that simulates at-home patient care for a variety of health disciplines and promotes other College of Health-sponsored activities. Also new are the Health Library; state-of-the-art classrooms and simulation labs for Nursing, Kinesiology, and other programs; group study areas; and industry-leading audio and video recording equipment that is used to supervise students and provide them with feedback on their practice.

Also built in are innovative technologies that reduce the building’s impact on the environment. Those features include green roofs, photovoltaic solar panels, an underground stormwater retention system, low-flow water fixtures, energy-efficient LED lighting, a design that enhances daylight to reduce energy consumption, and geothermal heating and cooling.

The building recently earned a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, affirming the University’s commitment toward sustainable construction and environmental best practices.

The power of a unified focus

Overall, the new building supports a central philosophy of the College of Health: interprofessional education and practice in service to the community.

In education and clinical practice, collaborative teams represent the future of healthcare, resulting in a more unified, less fragmented system—and better patient care.

This intentional approach to interprofessional education has allowed for more physical and educational interaction between departments, providing the opportunity for fresh perspectives and new insights for College of Health students and faculty.

“Interprofessional education is the wave of the future for healthcare, and it’s actually happening right now,” Osborne said. “These facilities allow our students to work together, learn from each other, and figure out who to consult when they’re out working out in the field.”

Dr. Jayanthi Kandiah, associate dean of academic affairs and professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at the College of Health, said this unified commitment benefits students, faculty, and Ball State’s partners within the community and in the state of Indiana.

“Employers tell us Ball State graduates are the most prepared for their professions,” Kandiah said. “Future graduates will be sought after because they will be the best team members anyone can hire. Future leadership in healthcare will come from Ball State University.”

The College of Health will continue to build on the success of its collaborative approach with new leadership from Dr. Scott Edward Rutledge, who became its dean this Summer.

Rutledge comes to Ball State from Temple University, where he fulfilled various academic roles in the School of Social Work and College of Public Health. He has recent experience incorporating a collaborative, innovative approach to interprofessional healthcare education, and says he’s ecstatic to hit the ground running at Ball State.

“For me, this is a perfect opportunity because I’m coming from an environment where we were energetically building transdisciplinary education and research for the last seven years,” he said. “Like Ball State, at Temple we recreated ourselves as a new college from a collection of health-related disciplines.

“I am proud to join Ball State in bringing programs and people together to create a dynamic synergy of students and community that will improve the health of Indiana and beyond.”