Clinical Health Sciences Center project launches

Facility will expand College of Health Sciences and Technology

Artist’s rendering of the new Clinical Health Sciences Center.

Rochester Institute of Technology held a ceremony Friday to kick off a construction project that will significantly expand its College of Health Sciences and Technology.

RIT is breaking ground on the new Clinical Health Sciences Center, which will be home to the college, a primary care clinic—to be run by Rochester General Hospital—and the recently announced Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition.

“The Clinical Health Sciences Center will be more than a beautiful addition to the campus,” said RIT President Bill Destler. “It will move the RIT & RGHS Alliance forward in its goal to impact the future of health care.”

Construction will begin in April on the 45,000-square-foot facility expansion at the north end of the Louise M. Slaughter Hall. The Clinical Health Sciences Center is scheduled to open in fall 2015.

The Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition will have its own dedicated space in the center to accommodate new programs. The school’s existing bachelor’s degree in nutrition management and exercise science minor are the foundation for a future B.S. in exercise science, M.S. in health and wellness, M.S. in psychology of health and wellness, and a Ph.D. in applied nutrition.

An atrium, funded by the Charles J. and Burton S. August Family Foundation, will unify the two-story addition and lead to space designated for the physician assistant and diagnostic ultrasound programs, forensic clinical psychology research and the Center for Applied Psychophysiology and Self-regulation. State-of-the art lecture rooms, clinical-office simulation spaces, high-tech critical care simulation and clinical research space will enhance each aspect of the center.

A building focusing on RIT’s clinical programs is unique to the university and adds another layer of depth to the 5-year-old alliance, said Dr. Daniel Ornt, vice president and dean of the Institute of Health Sciences and Technology/College of Health Sciences and Technology.

“The new facility will give our students hands-on experience in simulated clinical environments before they go on their rotations at clinics and hospitals in the region,” said Ornt. “The space will give the College of Health Sciences and Technology an identity and a place for students and faculty to explore innovative models of healthcare delivery—one of the objectives of the RIT & RGHS Alliance.”

“One of the most exciting developments of our alliance with RIT is the impact it has had on fostering delivery system innovation,” said Mark Clement, chief executive officer of Rochester General Health Systems and a member of the RIT Board of Trustees. “It provides us with a laboratory to develop and integrate new processes enabled by technology, while allowing us to participate in the training of the next generation of health professionals emerging from RIT’s College of Health Sciences and Technology and the new Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition. Together, RIT and RGHS are sowing the seeds for future industry-changing developments.”

The Clinical Health Sciences Center will house a fully functioning clinic that will provide primary- and walk-in care for RIT faculty, staff and dependents, and community members. The RIT Student Health Center will remain the primary care facility for undergraduate and graduate students.

The clinic has the potential to become a valued provider to members of RIT and the greater community, and serve as a rich experiential learning space for students and faculty to explore new models of health care delivery, Ornt said.

“The Rochester General Medical Group primary care practice on campus will provide the RIT employees and families as well as the local community with convenient access to innovative nationally recognized medical care and services,” said Dr. Bridgette Wiefling, senior vice president and executive medical director of the Rochester General Medical Group and vice president of Clinical Innovation for the Rochester General Health System. “This program is designed to develop forward viewing strategies that improve patient access and satisfaction, helping physicians and students learn better ways to manage the health of their patients across the continuum of care.”

Ornt’s leadership team will remain in the Center for Biosciences and Technology, with the medical illustration MFA program, the gross anatomy laboratory, the M.S. in health systems administration, and the department of biomedical sciences, the college’s largest degree program, which will expand into the additional space left by the clinical programs.

“I commend everyone involved with the opening of RIT’s Clinical Health Sciences Center; seeing this continued investment and confidence in the college and city’s future is truly wonderful,” said Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy. “This new center will provide invaluable hands-on experience to RIT students, keeping them competitive and prepared to enter tomorrow’s job market, while also serving the surrounding community with state-of-the-art health care. The Clinical Health Sciences Center, in conjunction with the new Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition, will be an excellent addition to the region, and I’m looking forward to the successes the facility will bring for students and Rochester citizens alike.”

The College of Health Sciences and Technology is RIT’s ninth college. It officially opened in September 2011 under the umbrella of the Institute of Health Sciences and Technology formed by the RIT-RGHS Alliance. The formal partnership between RIT and RGHS was created in 2008 to broaden educational opportunities for RIT students and to collaborate on technological solutions in health-care delivery.