With the snip of oversized scissors, a larger and more versatile Radford University Clinical Simulation Center (CSC) at the Roanoke Higher Education Center (RHEC) reopened in Roanoke on Wendesday.
State Sen. John Edwards, who also chairs the RHEC Board of Trustees, joined Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill to commemorate the completion of the 6,600-square-foot, $1.8 million project that began in May.
“Radford’s leadership has been extremely important to our work at the RHEC to provide the third and fourth years of college to citizens of the largest community in Virginia without a four-year public college,” said Edwards. “For our region, we want to provide programs that meet the needs of our community, especially with regards to health care. The growth of this center is an important step forward.”
A bond-funded package secured by the RHEC from the General Assembly underwrote the project, which includes an 1,800-square-foot expansion and renovation of 2,800-square feet of the existing CSC.
“Partners have joined together to create opportunities for our students and the citizens across our region,” President Hemphill said. “I am confident that the impact of this enhanced center will be profound and make a real difference.”
The CSC at the RHEC, operated by the School of Nursing (SON) in Radford’s Waldron College of Health and Human Services (WCHHS), will now have additional hospital rooms, exam rooms, interview rooms and an apartment room to prepare nursing students from Radford University, Jefferson College of Health Science and Patrick Henry Community College with immersive learning experiences in a safe and realistic environment.
“The expanded CSC broadens the WCHHS’ ability to provide students with unique and valuable experiences to explore and better understand the complexities of the human body and the needs of the patients they will serve, strengthen, heal and help,” WCHHS Dean Ken Cox said.
The ribbon cutting marked the first-ever renovation of the site since its opening in 2006. Capacity has been expanded by increasing hospital simulation rooms from four to six and examination rooms from two to six. Additional debriefing rooms, video spaces and room for standardized patients, or actors who portray patients, have also been added. Roanoke’s SFCS was the CSC project architect/engineer and the contractor was Avis Construction of Roanoke.
“I applaud the commitment of partners who are making sure our area has a skilled and productive workforce today and for the future,” said RHEC Executive Director Kay Dunkley, a 1973 graduate of Radford’s Communication Sciences and Disorders program.
The RHEC provides access to workforce training and degree-related higher education programs in more than 200 programs of study through member institutions. RHEC students from the Greater Roanoke Region take undergraduate- and graduate-level courses either at the center or online through one of 10 partnering colleges and universities as well as job training programs through TAP – This Valley Works.
According to Dunkley, Radford is one of the largest RHEC lessors. In FY 2017, more than 60 students earned degrees from the RHEC-hosted Roanoke cohorts of Radford Bachelor or Master of Social Work programs and undergraduate nursing, criminal justice and interdisciplinary studies/elementary education programs. In total, the RHEC promotes 11 Radford programs including on-site, hybrid or online programs.
Kimmy Stafford, a senior from Virginia Beach, described her experiences in the CSC, saying, “It is as close to real as you can get. Luckily for us, Radford University uses the CSC in every course. We immerse ourselves in all possible fields of nursing to get experience with different populations.”
Stafford reflected on the value of her immersive experiences.
“I gained more than the technical skills of the job. I developed skills in critical thinking, communication, teamwork and leadership,” said Stafford who will graduate in December and hopes to take a job on a pediatric intensive care unit. “These will be vital when I join a nursing team as a competent and confident professional.”
One of Stafford’s younger nursing colleagues, Daysha Williams, is a junior nursing major from Midlothian, Virginia who led a simulation session for the ribbon-cutting’s more than 50 guests.
“It looks and feels like a real hospital,” said Williams. “This is my first time on this floor and I am amazed.
For Williams, the CSC is more than just the facility.
“It helps to feel like I can make my mistakes here and learn from them under the eyes of the instructors who are experienced nurses and teachers.”