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Health Professions Celebrates Grand Opening

Before the renovation of Dalton State’s Health Professionals Building was complete, students in those disciplines were scattered across campus.

“We were really spread out,” said Anthony Landowski, a nursing student in his second year of the program. “Now we’re all together. Now we don’t have to go all over campus. Our labs and classrooms are together, and we’re with other health profession students.”

The School of Health Professions celebrated the grand opening of its new space Wednesday afternoon in a ceremony in the lobby of the building, followed by an open house. The building previously housed the technical division, which is no longer part of the College.

One major advantage of the renovation is that all health professional students – nursing, social work, respiratory therapy, radiologic technology, health information management, medical laboratory technology, and phlebotomy - are now under one roof. This gives the different disciplines a chance to work together as they would in a professional setting. In addition, the building will also house Student Health Services, which includes counseling and a new health clinic.

“Since all programs are being housed in the building together now, we have seen an increase in collaboration,” said Dr. Gina Kertulis-Tartar, dean of the School of Health Professions. “All our programs will have access to our simulation lab when it is complete. We anticipate an increase in professional development between the programs.”

The renovated space includes five skills labs for radiological technology, medical laboratory technology, respiratory therapy, and the three nursing programs – licensed practical nursing, associate of nursing and bachelors of nursing.

Construction should soon begin on the simulation lab, which will include five patient rooms, three observation rooms, and a debriefing space. It will allow students a safe place to take the skills learned in class and apply them in real-world scenarios in a safe environment, Kertulis-Tartar said.

“One of the advantages of the simulation is that the students are allowed to make mistakes on the simulators that would be too costly in the clinical environment,” she said. “We use low fidelity and high fidelity computer-controlled mannequins in the simulations.”

The lab was made possible with donations from the Mashburn Trust and Dalton State Foundation, Kertulis-Tartar said.

Ashley Bankston, a nursing student, is excited for the opportunity to work with other students in the health professions field. It will give her a better sense of what to expect in a clinical setting.

“This is a really good learning environment,” she said. “It has been nice to use the new labs, especially the simulation labs. We have more space here and the labs are organized similar to a hospital. So we get that experience here.”

Before the renovation the building was darker and difficult to navigate, but the renovation opened the building and added windows for more natural light, Kertulis-Tartar said.

“I think one of the best features of the building is the lobby area,” she said. “This large open area, formerly garage bays, was specifically designed for our students. Many of the students in these programs spend a large portion of their day in this building, and we wanted them to have a great space to study, relax, or socialize.”

The health center will open in January for students.

“It ushers in a new chapter for Dalton State as we continue moving from a commuter college to a first-choice destination,” said Dr. Cheryl Owens, director of student health services. “The students played a pivotal role in bringing the health center to the College. It allows us to move counseling and medical services to one area to better meet the holistic health needs of our students.”

The center has three exam rooms, an on-site laboratory, and three counseling offices. It will be staffed by a full-time nurse practitioner, medical assistant, clinic director, and three counselors.