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March 14, 2014

WSCC to show off new School of Nursing and Center for Science, other renovations on campus

CULLMAN — Wallace State Community College will show off its newest facility, the School of Nursing and Center for Science, at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 18, with an open house, ribbon cutting and tours of it and other recently renovated facilities. A number of local and state dignitaries will be in attendance, and the public is invited to attend.

Wallace State broke ground on the new School of Nursing and Center for Science Building in February 2012. Classes began in the facility during the spring semester as the final touches were added and faculty and staff settled into their new offices. The 115,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility houses nursing, biology and other health science classes.

“As a lifelong community college educator, I believe our students deserve the best in learning environments, and we strive to provide those kinds of learning experiences at Wallace State,” said Dr. Vicki Hawsey Karolewics, President of Wallace State. "This new facility has been many years in the making, and it certainly extends our tradition of excellence into the future.”

A simulation center on the ground level is modeled after a hospital, with two separate control rooms for instructors to monitor exercises. The nine-bed simulation center includes four ICU adult hospital beds, two pediatric beds, two labor/delivery beds and an ER/OR trauma room. There are also two nursing stations, two medication rooms, clean and soiled utility rooms, an emergency room entrance for scenarios involving ambulance arrivals and two prep and debriefing rooms.

“I thought I would feel some nostalgia after leaving a building the program occupied for nearly 30 years,” said Deborah Hoover, Director of Nursing.  “But we put so much thought and planning into this building to make sure it would be exactly what we needed today and for years to come, that I haven’t missed our old facility for a minute.  This one is exactly what we needed, and so it already feels like home.”

On the top floor there are three classrooms each with 10 beds and mannequins for learning and practicing procedures.

Large classrooms, a computer lab and lecture halls allow the students to spread out. Common areas offer plenty of space for students to sit for individual or group study. Rumors Café operates Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., in an area just off of the commons area on the ground floor. The café is open to the public as well as students, faculty and staff.

More classrooms are located on the lower level with a business center equipped with a 500-seat conference space and an industrial kitchen for use as banquet facilities for the college as well as the business, industry and the general public.

The building is designed in the shape of a chromosome, with classrooms and activities radiating from a centromere, or common area. The x-shape separates the building into four wings branching out from this center. Nursing administration and the business center is located in the southwest wing; biology in the southeast wing; nursing classrooms and the simulation center in the northwest wing; and lecture halls in the northeast wing.

“It’s a dream come true,” echoed Dr. Fred Halstead. “We want our learning environments to match the level of excellence we expect ourselves to provide as instructors, and that’s a challenge when classrooms are bursting at the seams, particularly in programs like ours, where labs require space to maneuver.  Most students who are planning to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program or who are completing an associate degree program, especially in the health sciences, take biology, so you can imagine the volume we serve.  This facility, not only has biology at the essence of its chromosome-inspired design, which pleases our department to no end, but it also gives so much greater opportunity for interdisciplinary teaching and learning.”

The layout of the biology classrooms are based on the design of the educational classrooms at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, said Dr. Halstead.

Area high school health science teachers and members of the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) recently received a sneak peek of facility, and spent some extra time in the Simulation Center.

“I’m really impressed,” said Crystal Freeman of Huffman High School as she stood outside the ER/OR trauma room. “I do think this will better prepare them for clinicals,” she said, thinking of the potential benefits to her own students and other future Wallace State students. “This is a state-of-the-art facility. I have seen other labs, but this far exceeds those.”

Freeman said she can see how both traditional students and dual enrollment students will benefit from the new facilities, which will give them a better idea of the real life situations they can face in the medical field.

Dr. Philip Cleveland, director of the ALSDE Career and Technical Education, was equally impressed as he watched students take part in a simulation in a labor/delivery room.

“Look at how engaged they are in what they are doing,” he said. “You can’t have that in a book.”

He was especially impressed with the debriefing rooms, which allow the instructors to review video of their simulation exercise with the students and show them how they could have performed differently.

“This is the best I’ve seen anywhere, in Alabama and across the country,” he added of the facility. “And it’s a comprehensive approach. It’s not just catering to nursing, it caters to all areas of health science.”

During the Open House, the college will also showcase the extensive renovations that have transformed the James C. Bailey Center into a one-stop center for student enrollment services, the Academy for Cosmetic Arts into a state-of-the-art salon spa instructional facility, and the Welding Department into a state-of-the-art training environment. Buses will take guests from the School of Nursing and Center for Science to these facilities for tours and refreshments.

For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu or call 256-352-8000.

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