By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Today, Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City’s (OSU-OKC) Health Sciences programs are thriving. To accommodate their growth, the university recently broke ground on construction of a new, state-of-the-art building on campus in northwest Oklahoma City.
Last month, with community partners and several of the construction teams present, the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Allied Health Building was held on the northwest corner of the OSU-OKC campus at 400 N. Portland Avenue.
The two-story building will house all Health Sciences programs, as well as a Variety Care primary care clinic, which will be open to students, faculty, staff and the community.
“We are delighted to welcome Variety Care onto our campus for this exciting partnership,” said OSU-OKC President Natalie Shirley. “Our university has many low-income students who inevitably need primary care during the year.
“In addition, our neighbors need access to care as well,” she added.” Variety Care is a great partner for us because they will be able to offer primary care, dental and behavioral services.”
Shirley said OSU-OKC allied health students will have opportunities to work in the Variety Care clinic, providing them with valuable experience in the real world of medicine.
“This makes sense for so many reasons,” said Lou Carmichael, Variety Care CEO. “OSU-OKC is a great community resource, and the campus lies directly in our service area. The new Allied Health Building is also exciting for the health care industry because everyone in health care is needing more and better-trained professionals at all levels.”
Variety Care is recognized nationally as a Patient-Centered Medical Home, an important designation that indicates multiple primary care services and resources are available for patients to generate better health outcomes.
“It would be nearly impossible to simulate a Patient-Centered Medical Home for educational purposes, so this is an exciting training opportunity for young nurses and other health professionals to work in a PCMH-style clinical setting and help community members gain access to primary care at the same time,” Carmichael said
Shirley added, “They also accept many different insurances and offer uninsured patients affordable cash options based on their income.”
A United Way partner agency, Variety Care is an Oklahoma based non-profit community health center (CHC) with locations in Oklahoma City, Norman, Del City, Tipton, Fort Cobb, Grandfield and Thomas.
As Oklahoma’s largest CHC, in 2014, Variety Care programs served 113,021 people, including 56,051 clinical patients by providing primary medical, dental, vision and behavioral health care with multiple services at some locations.
“With this project, Variety Care will have embedded clinics in an Oklahoma City elementary school, an Oklahoma City high school and a local university campus,” Carmichael said. “We believe firmly that health care is best provided to the public when it can be accessed comfortably and conveniently by patients.”
Construction of the $13 million, 45,000-square-foot building is scheduled to be completed in time for the fall 2016 semester.
Dewberry, of Tulsa, has been selected for architectural and engineering services, while Crossland Construction Company has been selected as the Construction Management at Risk for the project.
“The alliance between OSU-OKC and Variety Care will enable us as a university to align health profession education with the health care needs of the community,” said Danyel Germain, OSU-OKC Health Sciences division head.
“Additionally, the new simulation center will allow for inter-professional, experiential learning as Health Sciences students and health care professionals simulate real-life patient scenarios side-by-side.”
The building will house OSU-OKC’s Health Sciences Division, which includes the following programs: Nurse Science, Cardiovascular Ultrasound, Dietetic Technology and Health Care Administration.