Opening the Doors to Investment in Health Care Future

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Triangle Construction executive vice president Bryant Nixon surveys an updated project checklist as subcontractors swarm around the 28,000 square feet of the Mack Library first floor that will house the BJU School of Health Professions.

A worker gracefully maneuvers on drywall stilts as he trims and installs ceiling panels in the future office of Dr. Jessica Minor, dean of the School. Nearby, other hard hat workers run electrical conduit and rough in overhead lighting to illuminate a hallway that could almost host 40-yard dash tests. Adjacent to the expansive lobby, a worker opens a container of dark blue from the BJU color palette to paint a curved wall.

Renovations to the facility, which began in May 2019, are progressing toward the scheduled 2020 fall semester opening.

Objectives of Project

Interprofessional collaboration, a learning environment similar to the health care workplace, fostering more community outreach, sparking innovation and propelling BJU’s worldwide impact for Christ through health care alumni are among the objectives of co-locating the accredited School of Health Professions programs.

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Programs and faculty in the School, which includes the Division of Health Sciences, Division of Nursing and Division of Exercise and Sport Science, are currently spread across campus, so interdepartmental communication is among the issues that the integrated facility will alleviate.

The facility will feature:

  • A 14-bed nursing skills lab that simulates a hospital floor to aid in teaching multidisciplinary skills necessary for patient assessment and providing care.
  • Labs for four high-fidelity patient simulators with corresponding control/observation rooms to aid in teaching skills pertaining to cardiac, circulation, airway and breathing management.
  • An exercise physiology lab and classroom with state-of-the-art equipment and tools to test all aspects of health, fitness and sports performance.
  • A fitness and wellness lab with synthetic turf and equipment designed for students to learn how to meet people’s needs in health, fitness and recreation.
  • Communication disorders clinical instruction rooms and workstations.
  • Three lecture rooms that will accommodate more than 200 students in total.
  • Faculty offices, conference rooms and lounge areas.
  • Space to incorporate future programs or additional labs.

The library, which over the summer was consolidated on the second floor of the building, has not been significantly affected by construction during the academic year. The Jerusalem Chamber, which houses a collection of rare Bibles, and the memorabilia room will remain open to the public on the first floor.

Major Work in the Building

Aside from moving library materials to the second floor, first-floor demolition and subsequent construction of interior walls, major projects included installing a fire sprinkler system throughout the building; updating the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system; and updating the electrical system.

The building was constructed in 1947 (the year general contractor Triangle Construction was founded and the year Bob Jones College became Bob Jones University) and expanded in 1981. Interior demolition uncovered what was an outside brick wall from the 1947 building in what will be the exercise physiology lab. The architect, Cynthia E. Benjamin of LS3P in Greenville, suggested leaving it for a bit of architectural character.

“There was a lot of demo and putting a fire sprinkler system in the entire building I would say was the most challenging,” said Nixon, who was also involved in Triangle Construction’s renovation of the University’s administrative offices in 2015. “It will cover not only spaces we were renovating but spaces we were not renovating (such as the Jerusalem Chamber). Sprinkling the whole building allows the University to use this as a dual-use building.

“We removed five old air units on the roof and changed them out for one larger unit. That required a good bit of work, steel supports underneath and a lot of interaction between Triangle and BJU because some of the work was being done by both. We decommissioned an old transformer and put in a new transformer with all-new switchgear and all-new main electrical power for the building.

“We added an emergency generator and are upgrading the elevator.”

Looking Forward to ‘It’s a Wrap’

Next steps for the general contractor to oversee include laying flooring, testing the HVAC and electrical systems, installing doors and cabinets, finishing bathrooms, and final coat painting. The University expects to receive a certificate of occupancy in March.

“Once Triangle is finished, then it’s BJU for the furniture and the technology and other items that will take at least a month,” said Tom Berg, senior director of BJU facilities management. “Each of the classrooms will have two projector screens and speakers in the ceiling. In the simulation labs, we hope to have closed-circuit TV to record the students while they’re doing the work so they can evaluate themselves and be evaluated by instructors. We also hope to have other technology, such as smart boards, in the future.”

Also upcoming will be outfitting classrooms, offices and public areas with furniture.

Growing Needs in the U.S. and Beyond

The demand for qualified health professionals is growing, and the need for compassionate Christian health professionals is even greater. An aging U.S. population requiring varying levels of care and the increasing complexity of the health care system are the main components driving health care profession opportunities.

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Health care occupations overall are expected to grow 19% by 2024—outpacing all other occupations by double digits, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The South Carolina Office for Healthcare Workforce projects a shortage of more than 6,000 nurses in the state over the next decade.

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Forecast shortage of physicians, physician assistants, physical and occupational therapists, and medical laboratory workers is similar. The need for home health workers will be more acute as the U.S. baby-boom generation reaches 82 million by the end of the decade.

Striving to Reach $$ Goal

Though utilizing an existing building, interior renovations, along with mechanical, electrical and technology upgrades, require a substantial financial commitment. Through the first phase of a capital campaign, the University Board of Trustees, alumni and friends have given or pledged over 70% of the $5.75 million needed to complete the project.

A public fundraising phase seeks to fill the $1.7 million gap. Gifts are tax-deductible. Also, naming opportunities are available. Contact John Matthews, Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations, at [email protected] for information.