ST. LOUIS (March 27, 2018) – St. Louis Community College officials were joined by state, city and community leaders on March 23 to break ground for the new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences at the Forest Park campus.
Slated to open in fall 2019, the state-of-the-art learning center will have 96,000 square feet over four floors. It will have a dental clinic, modern science labs and classrooms, teaching areas and innovative space for learning. It will serve approximately 900 students in the nursing and health sciences programs.
“The new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences symbolizes a rebirth of the Forest Park campus. It’s going to be a value-add to the historic significance of Forest Park,” said Jeff Pittman, Ph.D., chancellor. “The center was designed with students and faculty in mind – to encourage learning, innovation, and the best in patient care. But most importantly, this project is a strategic response to workforce needs and a rising demand for skilled nurses and healthcare professionals in the St. Louis region.”
Value Added to City, Region
The center new building has been designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification, the second-highest achievable as designated by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The present building for health science was completed in 1968. Rather than renovate the existing building at a higher cost, college officials determined it would be more cost-efficient to construct a new site. A new entrance off Oakland Avenue also will be constructed. After the center is completed, the existing buildings for health sciences, known as A and B Towers, will be razed.
KAI Design & Build, established in St. Louis in 1980, will design the Center for Nursing and Health Sciences. The project team will be comprised of 85 percent minority business and woman business enterprises through KAI and its consultants.
“We have to understand where we’re located in the history of this corridor and what it really means to the city and this region,” said Michael Kennedy Jr., president of KAI Build and Design. “(In a meeting last week) We decided that maybe we should take a stand that is the ‘Show Them’ state, and that it was time to ‘show them’ that we can be innovative (in the building design) and open up this campus, and open up a diamond property that sits in between the Arch, next door to the Science Center, and near one of the largest parks in urban America.”
Tarlton Corporation, a certified women’s business enterprise based in St. Louis, will lead construction.
“The new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences building is groundbreaking in the truest sense. The ceremony celebrates the start of the physical construction of a project that Tarlton is proud to be working on with St. Louis Community College,” said Laura Lusson, marketing and communications manager, Tarlton Corporation.
“It is also groundbreaking in that this much-needed 21st century teaching facility will educate and provide hands-on learning experiences for generations of future health professionals who will serve the greater St. Louis community and the health sciences industry.”
Linda Martinez, deputy mayor for development in the City of St. Louis Mayor’s Office, noted that STLCC has made not only an investment in the Forest Park campus, but also in the city and region.
“The majority of students at Forest Park are city residents, eager to improve their lives and the lives of others,” Martinez said. “STLCC provides students the opportunity for education and training that ultimately makes them more successful, and that make our region more successful. This building will serve as a beacon along I-64/40, and hopefully encourage others to matriculate at Forest Park and continue their higher education. It will be important to the city as well as the region.”
Expanding to Meet Community and Workforce Needs
The new center will allow STLCC to expand popular programs and to serve more students – a requirement for the building’s approval by the STLCC Board of Trustees in October 2016. It also represents a strategic response to workforce needs, a rising demand for skilled nurses and healthcare professionals.
“The new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences reflects our vision for the future, and strengthens our institutional commitment to access, flexibility and responsiveness to the needs of our students and community,” said Doris Graham, chair of the STLCC Board of Trustees. “STLCC is deeply appreciative of the long-term support of the community, and we look forward to discovering more ways to serve our students through this new center, through modern learning opportunities, and through partnerships with other colleges, universities and hospitals.”
The 2016 State of St. Louis Workforce Report revealed that 44 percent of healthcare employers note a shortage of knowledgeable and skilled workers. The report also revealed that more than 80 percent of healthcare employers say they’re forced to hire less experienced workers.
“The Missouri Hospital Association greatly appreciates the more than decade-long partnership we’ve had with St. Louis Community College to develop the healthcare workforce,” said Jill Williams, director of workforce initiatives, MHA. “The college has continually approached the workforce needs of the St. Louis metropolitan hospitals with innovative thinking and enthusiastic solutions. This collaboration has helped address some the hospitals’ most challenging hiring and retention issues. With healthcare as the largest employment sector in St. Louis, it’s another example of the college’s forward thinking and innovative approach.”
The projected growth rate for healthcare jobs is 11 percent, in comparison to a five-percent growth rate for all industries. In the past year, there were nearly 20,000 posts for healthcare jobs. The job vacancy rate for nursing along is nearly 20 percent.
Currently, there are 400 students enrolled in STLCC’s nursing program.
The center will be the first new academic building constructed on the Forest Park campus in almost 20 years.
What Others are Saying About the St. Louis Community College Center for Nursing and Health Sciences
“As the healthcare environment continues to change, cultivating highly-educated, experienced and caring nursing and allied health professionals helps us further our mission to improve the quality of life for patients and the community.” – Diana Ray, vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer, St. Luke’s Hospital
“The opening of the new center is a wonderful investment for the St. Louis labor market, whether someone is currently working in healthcare or desires a healthcare career. We are excited for STLCC’s Center for Nursing and Health Sciences presence and partnership in our community.” – Deb Yost, Mercy regional vice president, human resources
“The need for more professional nurses is growing every day. We are excited to work with St. Louis Community College in the education of future nurses and to work toward the improvement of patient care delivery.” – Nancy Ridenour, dean, Goldfarb School of Nursing, Barnes-Jewish College
“Our commitment to our students’ future is why we are proud and excited about the new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences. It will help address the critical skills gap that exists with area health employers. As always, we work proactively to help shape the future for the citizens of our district, and they continue to look to us for educational and community leadership.” – Dr. Larry Johnson Jr., provost, St. Louis Community College-Forest Park
“The new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences is our commitment to continue to meet the growing need for healthcare professionals in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. It will offer future St. Louis Community College students the opportunity to obtain their education and training in state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories as they prepare for careers in the health sciences.” – Bill Hubble, district division dean, STLCC Health Sciences