By Tyler Ellyson
KEARNEY — The city of Kearney is committing $5 million to a University of Nebraska project that will improve health care education and training in the state.
City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to support construction of the new Rural Health Education Building on the University of Nebraska campus at Kearney. A partnership between UNK and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the approximately 100,000 square foot facility will address critical healthcare workforce shortages in the state by expanding opportunities for students to study, to train and eventually practice in central and western Nebraska.
The board member-approved resolution calls the building a “one-of-a-kind rural health learning environment focused on meeting Nebraska’s current and future rural health needs.”
“The growth of UNK and UNMC in our community has tremendous economic impact, from construction to creating future jobs and expanding two of our fundamental pillars – education and healthcare. health,” said Mayor Stan Clouse.
“Success in growing and retaining the rural health and workforce in south central Nebraska depends on creativity and partnerships,” added Clouse. “We are happy to be able to do our part.”
When fully operational, the Rural Health Education Building and Health Science Education Complex will support approximately 240 local jobs and have an estimated annual economic impact of $34.5 million.
Construction of the $85 million facility is scheduled to begin in September 2023, with an expected completion date of July 2025. With state legislature approval, the project has received $50 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act for capital construction, plus $10 million. for start-up costs of iEXCEL technology. The Legislative Assembly has also committed the sustainable operational funds needed to support faculty and staff.
The University of Nebraska will raise the remaining $35 million needed to cover construction costs, with the city’s $5 million contribution counting toward that total. This pledge will be paid over 15 years, beginning in fiscal year 2025, using money from the city’s general fund and utility fund. Annual payments will be $330,000 for 14 years and $368,000 in the final year.
“This is a tremendous commitment and demonstration of local support from the Town of Kearney. We hope this will encourage additional private funding from across the state, which is crucial to moving construction forward,” UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen said.
“The Rural Health Education Building will have a significant impact on Kearney in several ways. The university and the city have a long history of working closely together, and this is another example of how this partnership benefits the region.
The rural health education building reinforces an already successful collaboration between UNK and UNMC. In 2015, the institutions opened the $19 million Health Sciences Education Complex, which offers nursing education programs and a variety of allied health education programs on the UNK campus. Approximately 85% of students graduating from this building begin their careers in Nebraska.
The new facility will expand this talent pool by expanding the existing UNMC programs offered at Kearney. It will also bring new programs to the UNK campus, including medicine, medical nutrition, genetic counseling and respiratory care – all high-need areas in rural Nebraska. A master’s degree in health administration will be added to complement UNK’s undergraduate curriculum, and discussions are underway for UNMC’s College of Pharmacy to offer a joint degree program with UNK.
The Rural Health Education Building will be located directly north of the Health Sciences Education Complex, creating a center for health education in rural Nebraska that serves current and future providers and supports health projects. collaborative research. It will include state-of-the-art classrooms, extensive simulation and clinical skills labs for preclinical training, and complex clinical scenarios and simulated primary care spaces.
Targeted renovations are planned for the Health Sciences Education Complex, which will provide expanded anatomy, rehabilitation and musculoskeletal laboratories.