University cuts ribbon on new health center, nursing college complex

by Leslie Reed, University of Nebraska-Lincoln | July 11, 2018

Image with caption: Supporters and University of Nebraska leaders cut the  ribbon for the new UNL Health Center/UNMC College of Nursing complex. (Photo courtesy Loren Rye, University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Supporters and University of Nebraska leaders cut the ribbon for the new UNL Health Center/UNMC College of Nursing complex. (Photo courtesy Loren Rye, University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

A new University of Nebraska facility in Lincoln will give students access to improved health care while providing its nursing program a world-class learning and research space with capacity for future growth.

The 107,000-square-foot complex, located at 550 N. 19th St., along Antelope Parkway near 19th and S streets at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, opens for business July 16. Half of the new facility houses the UNL Health Center, while the other half is home to the UNMC College of Nursing Lincoln Division. The university celebrated its completion with a grand opening ceremony Tuesday.

See photos from the event.

UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green, Ph.D., described the facility as a smart example of collaboration between his institution and UNMC.

"By working together to benefit our students and our state, we found a way to better serve the health needs of our students, provide top quality nursing education in Lincoln and meet the state's need for nurses," Dr. Green said.

An unprecedented partnership

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., said: "This project, part of the 'Building a Healthier Nebraska' initiative, is the result of our government leaders and private partners having the foresight to go all in to plant the seeds that will reap a great harvest down the road. But, as great a day as this is, that true harvest comes later -- when research conducted here, and students educated here, make a difference in the lives of people we know and love."

As approved by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, the project budget was $43.9 million. The cost of the College of Nursing portion of the building was estimated at $19.8 million, while the University Health Center portion was about $24 million.

The College of Nursing portion was covered by state funds and private contributions, while student fees and patient revenues are being used to fund the Health Center portion. Construction began in November 2016, with Nebraska-based Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture as lead architect and Hausmann Construction serving as general contractor.

"This building, and the collaboration that has made it possible, will make the future better for generations to come," said Juliann Sebastian, Ph.D., dean of the UNMC College of Nursing. "Our generous donors, Nebraska legislators, governor, Board of Regents, university leaders and others saw the vision and invested in all that is possible in this new facility."

Nebraska's existing student health center at 1500 U St. opened in 1958. The replacement facility will provide students a contemporary, private and easily accessible environment for health care.

For example, a full-service pharmacy will be located just inside the Health Center entrance, enhancing privacy and convenience by allowing pharmacy customers to pick up prescriptions without crossing the patient waiting room. An expanded physical therapy department offers a SwimEx hydrotherapy pool and a gymnasium with cushioned sports flooring.

The medical clinic, which is limited to students, offers 26 examination rooms with dedicated space for triage, procedures, casting and other services.

Counseling and Psychological Services, previously in multiple locations across campus, has been combined into a single location at the new facility.

Other amenities will include a wellness kitchen to promote healthy nutrition; dental, optometry, radiology and laboratory services; and an area dedicated to helping students manage stress and anxiety.

"At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, students can expect the highest quality of patient care," said Laurie Bellows, interim vice chancellor of student affairs. "This facility is a significant step towards creating and supporting a campus environment that promotes and strengthens students' health and well-being."

Nebraska Medicine, UNMC's primary clinical partner, operates the University Health Center and employs its physicians, nurse practitioners and other staff.

Since its establishment in 1974, UNMC's College of Nursing Lincoln Division has had several locations on or near City Campus. It had been based in leased space in downtown Lincoln since 2005. From 1976 to 2005, the college was located in Benton and Fairfield halls on City Campus.

Its new site will attract more nursing faculty and raise the level of nursing education and research. With the American Association of Colleges of Nursing predicting a growing shortage of nurses through 2024, the facility will help UNMC meet the state's need for nurses.

Combining the Health Center and the College of Nursing Lincoln Division will allow both institutions to enjoy savings and increase effectiveness in utilities, space and technology.

"The new facility expands the college's capacity for continued growth and excellence in learning and discovery," Dr. Sebastian said. "This unique and wonderful building has world-class active learning spaces, immersive learning technology and expanded research space where students will learn to be outstanding nurses and leaders. The new space also increases capacity for future program expansion."

Brian Hastings, president and chief executive officer of the University of Nebraska Foundation, said the university is grateful for the people and organizations who contributed to the new complex.

"They clearly understood the need for this new, student-centered complex and were motivated because of the long-term opportunities it provides both academically and for students' access to quality health care," he said.

The Health Center will be closed from 5 p.m. July 11 to 8 a.m. July 16 while staff moves into the new building.

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Tom O'Connor
July 11, 2018 at 8:27 AM

Thank you to all the people who made this possible. What a great day for the University of Nebraska! Special kudos to Ruth and Bill Scott for getting the ball rolling and making the lead challenge gift. Nobody has done more for the university than the Scotts!