It has been nearly a year since the groundbreaking ceremony took place for the new WKU Health Sciences Complex at The Medical Center in Bowling Green.
The new building is nearing completion and will be ready to open for classes in August.
Kurt Neelly, academic coordinator of clinical education, said the building is about 80 percent done on the third floor, where the physical therapy classes and labs will be.
“They’re finishing the third floor first, and they’re going to work down with things as they go,” Neelly said. “With that end of July deadline, it’s going to take a couple of weeks to move stuff, which will be the most time consuming with all of us here.”
Dr. Mary Bennett, director of the school of nursing, says the new building will allow the nursing program to expand with a bigger facility.
“The classroom size went from 40 seats to 80 seats, so we’re going to be able to admit more students each semester,” Bennett said. “We were turning away half of the qualified applicants as a result of limited space. All of our programs are busting at the seams. All of these programs have students that they have to turn away simply because there’s not enough room.”
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program is brand new to WKU with the first ever class beginning this summer term. Neelly said the a physical therapy program wouldn’t be possible if there wasn’t a new building.
“We’re temporarily housed here in Tate Page (Hall), but there is no way that we would have the space needed to do our three year Doctorate of Physical Therapy program here,” Neelly said. “Certainly the demand for physical therapists is one of the reasons for establishing a program. Our program and the building of the medical center have kind of gone hand in hand.”
While the physical therapy program is kick starting, the nursing program continues to expand. Bennett said the new building will allow both students and faculty to learn new things that aren’t possible on the main campus.
“We are getting high definition mannequins, which will be new for us,” Bennett said. “We have hired a new simulation lab coordinator and one of our faculty members coming to us from another university has been a sim-lab coordinator, so these two people are going to help us get up to speed on how to use these really high tech essentials.”
Cadaver labs will give the physical therapy students an experience working with corpses that they have never had on the main campus. Neelly says the new cadaver labs will help eliminate common obstacles that naturally come with the tanks.
“We’re going to have a dedicated lab with special ventilation systems on the cadaver tanks that cycles the air away from the people working on it to minimize the fumes,” Neelly said. “Historically, cadavers have been a smelly and odorous ordeal, so with this new system, it’s really going to minimize all of that.”