When students walk into the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences new state-of-the-art campus in August, there are probably going to be a lot of “oohs” and “aahs.”
The transformation wrought upon the former Bosch Security office building and warehouse at Greenfield Corporate Center is complete. Apart from its sheer size, the warehouse is unrecognizable as such. A 120,000-square-foot second floor or mezzanine was added. Natural light from 10 skylights floods the building’s central core. Nearly 60 windows were added.
The office building, too, was completely overhauled.
The showpiece of the $65 million, 320,000-square-foot environmentally friendly campus is The Center for Excellence in Practice, an advanced facility for hands-on simulation training.
It lets the college “immerse our students in a realistic clinical environment,” said director of simulation learning Joseph Corvino, practicing their specialties in laboratories and suites that look virtually identical to their real-world counterparts.
The college, a subsidiary of Lancaster General Health, has been planning to relocate for years, having long ago outgrown its Lancaster headquarters at North Lime and East Lemon streets.
Health care is a linchpin of the local economy, and the college is a linchpin of local health care. It enrolls about 1,400 students and graduates more than 500 nurses a year, more than any other institution in the area, college President Mary Grace Simcox said, and it provides continuing education to professionals throughout the health system.
The college had considered other sites before Greenfield, but none was suitable. Building from scratch would have been too expensive, Simcox said.
The Greenfield site offered many advantages, including two buildings, abundant parking and the opportunity to work closely with High Construction and Greenfield Architects, affiliates of High Real Estate Group, the corporate park’s owner.
The college’s parent company, Lancaster General Health, loaned it the money for the project.
The college took possession June 1, 2015, and began work immediately. Construction was completed a little less than a year later on May 25 — a rapid turnaround time, given the project’s scale and complexity. Full-time classes begin Aug. 15.
Everyone was encouraged to contribute ideas to the design, facilities director Scott Lokey said: There were multiple surveys, then focus groups, then re-surveys.
“If you are a current student, faculty or staff member, and you did not leave your fingerprint on this campus, it’s your fault,” he said.
Educators like to use the term “flipped” to refer to a classroom that is centered on students rather than the instructor. In the case of the college, “we went with a totally flipped campus design,” Simcox said.
That’s perhaps most evident in in the layout of the 253,000-square-foot former warehouse.
The core consists of conference and collaboration spaces and study areas. Ringing that are classrooms, and behind them are the faculty offices, around the perimeter of the building.
In other words: Students at the center, surrounded by their learning support.
The campus takes its commitment to transparency literally, too. There is only one office that does not have a glass door, Lokey said: The security control room.
The campus could not be more wired: The college laid more than 1 million feet of data lines.
In a couple of classrooms, you can see a Microsoft Surface Hub, a touch-screen computer in the form of a giant (84-inch) flat-screen TV.
In the classrooms, “we’ve made everything as mobile as possible,” for maximum flexibility, Lokey said. Everything that can be put on wheels has been. Not only do the chairs have wheels, there’s a shallow storage bin under the seat for student book bags and other belongings.
All classrooms have one or two walls that double as white boards, usable from floor to ceiling.
Center for Excellence in Practice
The “jewel” of the college, as Lokey put it, is the Center for Excellence in Practice on the mezzanine of the former warehouse. At 20,000 square feet and holding 40 beds, it has eight times the space and 10 times the beds of the simulation labs it is replacing.
Its equipment and setup reflect the latest research into how people learn best.
As a whole, the center resembles nothing so much as a miniature hospital. The radiology lab has a real decommissioned X-Ray machine; the operating room has a real operating room table and state-of-the art lights.
Even the relationship of the various departments and functions is realistic, providing opportunities for students in the various medical disciplines to learn to cooperate with each other as patients move from pre-op to operation to post-op.
That level of integrated simulation may be unique in health care education: “To our knowledge ... this is the only place that can offer the experience that we’re about to offer to the students,” Lokey said.
What else? The 400-seat High Auditorium features individual electrical outlets in its 300 first-floor seats, so audience members can plug in their gear. Its sound system uses lasers to sense the audience configuration and adjust the audio accordingly. There’s also a multipurpose room in the office building that seats 250.
The Greenfield site more than triples the college’s available space, allowing it to offer a full slate of amenities that would be impossible at the downtown site.
There’s a park between the two buildings where students can relax in nice weather, a professional kitchen, a dining area, a self-serve convenience store and a stand serving Starbucks products.
Students and staff can work out in a fitness center with adjacent locker rooms. The student health center includes four technology-free “rejuvenation rooms” where stressed learners can collect their thoughts and regroup.
Oh, and there’s parking: 788 spaces; the downtown site had four. Generally, students had to park at Burle Business Park and be shuttled in.
The college’s lease at Burle ends Monday, Simcox said. As for the college’s downtown headquarters and ancillary buildings, those are being returned to LG Health, she said. How they will be used remains to be seen.
Shuttle buses will continue to transport students between the college and Lancaster General Hospital for their clinical work, college spokeswoman Stephanie Ellis said.
Lokey called the new campus “a labor of love.” Knowing the impact it will have, the many people it will help directly and indirectly, is overwhelming, he said.