ISU Magazine

Volume 40 | Number 1 | Fall 2009

From Warehouse to High-Tech Health Science Center

ISU-Meridian Health Science Center opened doors for classes for the Fall 2009 semester.

Photo by Chris Gabettas

From Warehouse to High-Tech Health Science Center

Fall 2009 Issue | By Chris Gabettas

Photos from the ISU-Meridian Health Science Center Grand Opening. Click to enlarge.

On an August morning a few days before class started at the new Idaho State University- Meridan Health Science Center, students Travis Henderson and Scott Davison were arranging hospital beds and storing supplies in cabinets inside a room that didn’t look much different than a traditional emergency room.

They pointed to the power strips — equipped with code buttons and portals for oxygen and compressed air — on the wall above each of eight beds.

“This looks just like a real pre-op or emergency room," Davison said. "This is great. We won’t feel out of our skin when we move from the classroom setting to a real hospital.”

Henderson and Davison are both seniors in the Idaho State University-Meridian Health Science Center’s fast-track nursing program, and both are excited about the new facility.

“We’ll definitely get better hands-on experience,” Henderson said. “I also like the fact the lab is so roomy, allowing more privacy for discussions between a student and professor.”

Just 18 months ago, the $14 million Health Science Center was a deserted telecommunications factory, shuttered in 2002 by previous owner Jabil Circuit, Inc. Today, students study in a bright, open space decorated with contemporary furniture and bistro tables.

“I’m thrilled with the transformation,” said academic dean Bessie Katsilometes.

The nursing department is equipped with two human-patient simulation rooms and computerized mannequins that cough, talk and moan in distress. From behind a one-way mirror, professors can program medical scenarios students will encounter in the real word.

“This is great. It’s the perfect place to educate the next generation of nurses,” said fast-track nursing program director Miki Goodwin.

College of Pharmacy student Don Wilson is thrilled with the new facility.

“Wow. It’s so big and open,” he said as he headed up the stairs to the L.S. Skaggs Pharmacy Complex, named in honor of drugstore entrepreneur Sam Skaggs, whose family’s charitable trust donated $5 million toward the purchase and renovation of the Center.

Wilson peeked inside the pharmacy compounding laboratory, the research lab, and toured the student lounge before dropping by a distance-learning classroom, equipped with high-resolution video screens powered by digital technology.

“I’m really impressed. This will definitely enhance the learning experience,” Wilson said.

The 41,000-square-foot Skaggs complex represents an expansion of ISU’s nationally ranked pharmacy program, allowing students to complete all four years of the pharmacy doctorate in the Treasure Valley.

Pharmacy and nursing are just two of more than 20 undergraduate and graduate programs offered at ISU-Meridian. The 181,000-square-foot facility also houses physician assistant studies, speech-language pathology, audiology, clinical lab sciences, public health, counseling, athletic administration, emergency management, dietetics and the Treasure Valley offices of the ISU Institute of Rural Health.

In addition to nine distance-learning classrooms, the Health Science Center has a clinical science laboratory, a speech and language clinic, and a counseling clinic. In 2011, the advanced dental residency program and Family Dentistry clinic will move from its east Boise location to ISU-Meridian with the help of a $500,000 gift from Delta Dental of Idaho Community Outreach.

“The ISU-Meridian Health Science Center will bring the power of advanced education, research and service to the Treasure Valley in addition to addressing the workforce needs of Idaho,” Katsilometes said.

University officials envision the Center—located within Meridian’s health science and technology corridor–becoming a site for clinical trials and health care advances.

Unique to the Northwest is ISU-Meridian’s partnership with Joint School District No. 2, whose administrative offices and Renaissance Magnet High School are adjacent to the Health Science Center. Renaissance students considering careers in health care are able to use the University’s library, labs and classrooms while earning college credit through ISU’s dual enrollment program.

“We believe the partnership will serve as an invaluable pipeline in recruiting and educating the health care professionals of tomorrow,” Katsilometes said.