It was just an idea nine years ago. Thursday night it became a reality. Dignitaries were among a large crowd that gathered to celebrate the opening of the Salina Health Education Center, the new home of the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Salina and the KU School of Nursing-Salina.
What had been a vacant downtown property is the new Jayhawk home in Salina. The building, located at 138 N Santa Fe, had been vacant for several years. It previously housed Bank of America. Prior to that, it was the Salina home of the Kansas Power and Light Company’s offices.
The new facility will provide 40,251 square feet of space, which more than doubles the campus space which had been located on Salina Regional Health Center’s hospital campus. The additional space is needed to address curriculum changes, which require more small group work and different types of classroom and lab space. The additional space also could accommodate possible future expansion of class sizes, at both the nursing school and medical school.
Dr. William Cathcart-Rake is the Dean of the medical school. He spoke to the large crowd which assembled. He said that this new multi-million dollar facility was not funded through any state money, or through any money from the university. It was totally funded through community support, via private philanthropic donations.
Dr. Sally Maliski is dean of the nursing school. She said the transformation of the facility, which a year ago was a dilapidated building, has been amazing to watch.
KU Chancellor Dr. Douglas Girod said he believes that Salina is the only community in Kansas that could pull off such a massive project.
The idea of a medical school in Salina was first presented in 2009. The KU School of Medicine-Salina opened in 2011, though clinical training had been available for KU medical students in Salina since 2001.
The University of Kansas School of Medicine campus in Salina was created to address the critical shortage of physicians in Kansas. This innovative medical education program is aimed at students with a strong desire to practice in rural areas.
With eight students admitted each year, the Salina campus is the smallest four-year medical education site in the country. University leaders believe it can serve as a model for the nation. The vision is an effort to address physician shortages in rural Kansas. Ninety-seven of the 105 counties in Kansas are considered medically under-served.
The new downtown campus location shares facilities with the University of Kansas School of Nursing program, which started in Salina back in September. It accepted an initial class of 12 students. The curriculum for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is identical to the program in Kansas City. It is delivered via on-site faculty in Salina and distance education via video link. Plans call for class sizes to expand to 18 students in 2019 and 24 students in 2020. By year five of the program, the campus will have reached its maximum capacity of 48 students.
Students in both medicine and nursing engage in clinical experiences at the Salina Regional Health Center and its affiliated clinics in Salina and surrounding communities.