December 15, 2017

Husson trustees OK $3M 'wellness learning center'

Courtesy / Thomas Warren, Husson University
Courtesy / Thomas Warren, Husson University
An architectural rendering shows what Husson University's $3 million wellness learning center will look like when it's completed on the Bangor campus.

Husson University's board of trustees approved the construction of a new 7,100-square-foot, $3 million wellness learning center on the institution's Bangor campus.

The new facility will be devoted to delivering health services to Husson students, and health education opportunities to those enrolled in the university's nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy and graduate counseling programs.

"We currently have a critical shortage of space on our Bangor campus," Robert J. Ronan, retired senior vice president of technology at Fidelity Investments and current Husson University board of trustees chairman, said in a news release. "Investing in this new facility will allow Husson to improve our health care delivery environment while providing the additional learning space necessary to increase enrollments in our nursing program."

Currently, the university's counseling center and student health services are sharing a temporary modular space. The classrooms and offices for Husson's nursing, OT and PT programs are located in O'Donnell Commons and Peabody Hall and both buildings are filled to capacity.

The building would include a new 3,700-square-foot simulation lab, and with the other learning spaces created by the new building would allow the university to increase nursing enrollments by nearly 25% and help successfully position Husson for additional future growth.

Husson University President Robert A. Clark said the new structure will address two of Husson's priorities.

"The wellness of our student population is, and will continue to be, an important priority," he said. "This new facility will ensure that our students receive quality health care services. Second, this project will provide the important and necessary infrastructure required to grow our nursing program, an area of distinction for our university. In the near-term future, this project and our new College of Business building are among our highest priorities."

More health care professionals are needed

Courtesy / Thomas Warren, Husson University
Courtesy / Thomas Warren, Husson University
An architectural rendering shows the interior layout for the new $3 million wellness learning center that will be built on Husson University's Bangor campus.

While Husson University is already the home of one of the largest, private, nonprofit university nursing programs in Maine, the demand for health care professionals continues to increase. According to the Maine Department of Labor's Maine Workforce Outlook 2014 to 2024, "the advancing age structure of the population is a primary factor driving job gains in health care," which are expected to include more than 8,000 new jobs in Maine by 2024.

Licensure examination results of Husson's nursing program show that nearly 91% of Husson graduates passed the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses this year, compared to the Maine and national average of 88% who passed on their first attempt, according to a Maine Board of Nursing report for January-through-September 2017.

"Inter-professional collaboration continues to be an important skill set that we seek to instill in all of our graduates," said Teresa Steele, dean of Husson's College of Health and Education. "The addition of these facilities will allow for more inter-professional interaction between students of various health care disciplines. This interaction will better prepare our graduates to adhere to the highest standard of care as they work to treat patients in a team environment."


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