LSC-O Nursing Department Anxiously Awaiting New Building Construction

Nursing students contribute to nearly half of the enrollment on the Lamar State College-Orange campus, so when a property was acquired to help house an area of study, it was quickly decided that nursing students would benefit the most. New labs, lecture halls, computer rooms and more much-needed space await the more than 1,000 nursing students on campus.

The concept of the new building to accommodate career training was part of LSC-O’s 2008 Campus Master Plan. The LSC-O Foundation acquired the former Orange Leader building next to the campus in 2010, and the college subsequently purchased the site from the Foundation so that it may be renovated and used for classroom space. However, in 2011, the campus hired a consulting firm to examine the feasibility of renovating the building and found it would not be cost effective to “save” it, so plans were made to construct a new building.

“When the Campus Master Plan was put together we did not designate a specific area of study for the building,” said Dr. Michael Shahan, President of LSC-O. “As we looked at our enrollment growth over the past four years, it became evident that the demand for nursing instruction exceeded the capacity of our existing facilities.”

Currently, nursing students are housed in the Allied Health Building on campus, along with the EMS program and pharmacy technology. Without enough room, many of the nursing classes have had to be scheduled in the Wilson building across campus this semester.

“Recently a student said to me they were so looking forward to coming to class in the Allied Health Building, but was disappointed that their class was in the Wilson building because they wouldn’t be able to be a part of the ‘nursing atmosphere’,” said Gina Simar, Director of Allied Health. “I think the new building will give students that sense of pride and accomplishment that they have arrived to nursing and their hard work is paying off.”

Simar says the main thing the new building will provide is room for the nursing students to learn, but all of the new accommodations don’t exactly hurt either. The new building will be equipped with a simulation lab to include two adult rooms, a birthing room, pediatric room and a home setting environment. New equipment will be included to enhance student learning and there will be two five-bed skills labs that will also be for the training of nursing students. In addition, there will be an 80-seat lecture hall, a 60-seat computer room, two 50-seat rooms and a 60-seat classroom.

“I think the new building is going to motivate students and will be a beautiful, up-to-date facility of which we are going to be very proud to be a part of,” said Simar. “The 80-seat lecture hall will allow for all of LSC-O to perhaps sponsor presentations, hold specialized meetings and invite speakers.”

Construction is scheduled to commence on the new building in November and it is hoped that classes can be held in there by fall 2013. The nursing program directors and administrative assistant will be housed in the new building, while most faculty offices will remain in the Allied Health Building. Moving the nursing classes to the new building will allow some of the classrooms in the Allied Health Building to be used for general instruction, as well as continue to comfortably house the EMS and pharmacy technology programs.

According to Shahan, the cost of the new construction will be paid from two sources.

“The campus receives an annual allocation of money from the state’s Higher Education Assistance Fund,” he said. “For several years, LSCO has saved a portion of this money and these savings will pay for almost half of the construction. The remainder will be paid from funds generated through revenue bonds issued by the Texas State University System.”

There are approximately 160 vocational nursing students, 80 registered nursing students, and roughly 300 basic nursing students each year at LSC-O. However, with the more than 500 pre-vocational students that have to be advised through the nursing department, things have grown a little crowded. Suzanne Baker, vocational nursing instructor, says she has worked at LSC-O for nine years and the program enrollment has doubled in that time.

“We are now using Simulation to help train our students,” she said. “My favorite feature of the floor plan of the new building is the Simulation Lab. It’s going to enhance our programs by offering many new and different learning opportunities for our students.”

In addition to the Sim Man 3G simulation mannequin, they will have a simulator capable of birthing a baby, a newborn simulator and a Sim Junior for pediatric training. Simar says the plans for the new building, as well as the grounds surrounding it, are very inviting and conducive to learning.

“When I first started in Allied Health, the vocational nursing program entered 40 students twice a year and the registered nursing program entered 40 students once a year,” she said. “These programs have grown considerably and it is time for LSC-O to grow and expand as well, in order to accommodate our students.”