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Southern Adventist opens Florida Hospital Hall

Southern Adventist University’s new Florida Hospital Hall, celebrating its grand opening Jan. 8, will accommodate the school’s growing nursing program and updated curriculum.

“We’re very excited to all be under one roof, just for our students to have a home and better communication and continuity,” said Dr. Barbara James, dean of the School of Nursing.

The $7.5 million building is $300,000 short of opening debt-free after a six-year campaign to raise $17.5 million for Florida Hospital Hall and Hulsey Wellness Center, which opened in November 2008.

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Contributed photo

Officials break ground for Florida Hospital Hall nursing building at Southern Adventist University. From left are Florida Hospital President Lars Houmann, SAU President Gordon Bietz, Nursing Club president Abri Delgado, Committee of 100 chairman Franklin Farrow, SAU Senior Vice President for academic administration Robert Young, and SAU Senior Vice P1uresident for finance Dale Bidwell.

“We really, really wanted to open debt-free,” said SAU director of development Geovanny Ragsdale. “We’ve worked really, really hard and I still believe in God’s miracles.”

James, who joined SAU in 1991, said admission into the school’s two-year associate of science in nursing program has jumped from 104 to 144 students a year in four years.

The School of Nursing also offers a baccalaureate completion program and a graduate program, with plans to add a doctor of nursing practice program. Additions to the faculty for the 2011-2012 school year are a hope of James’ but have not been approved yet.

The 34,000-square-foot building’s three floors are aesthetic and functional, James said, and offer “the wave of the future” — sim labs, or simulated medical scenarios in a protected environment. Besides the students participating in the simulation, more students can observe the scenario by camera and critique it.

“That will just allow us to increase the quality of the program,” James said.

Computer labs now have 61 machines instead of 35, and James said they’re being used more and more for testing, virtual lessons and homework.

James said the building’s mission theme is evident from the entry’s globe chandelier.

“It really speaks to the fact that we have graduates around the world that are doing medical ministry,” she said.

Nursing students are involved in the local community, too, as volunteers and clinicians in health fairs, schools, apartment complexes, churches, foot clinics and more.

“It seems they are in nursing for the right reasons,” James said. “They are caring and compassionate. That is something we think should be distinctive as a private, religiously affiliated school. We do hear this from other people who have nothing to gain or lose from saying that, and we really appreciate that.”

James said talks for a new building began as early as the late 1990s and SAU’s board of trustees voted to build a new nursing building in October 2006, changing plans to renovate Herin Hall.

“The old space even renovated and expanded was just not going to meet our needs,” she said.

In its next stage of life, Herin Hall will house classes for other departments while their buildings are being renovated — such as the education and psychology department this summer — but it may be torn down eventually.

“A final decision has not been made,” James said.

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