New era of health science dawns


UIndy Health Pavilion focus is on interprofessional education, collaborative teaching & learning, health disparities, and low-cost, accessible care

The UIndy Health Pavilion will open in August. It will provide a home for all of the University’s health sciences-related programs (enrolling nearly half of all UIndy students). Its amenities will include an outdoor patio (above, as it appeared in May), and a café devoted to healthy eating.

When the UIndy Health Pavilion opens in August as part of the University’s ongoing campus and neighborhood development plan, it will house a health sciences program that is one of the city’s most comprehensive. What makes UIndy’s 160,000-square-foot, $30-million educational facility so special?

The architecturally inspiring glass-and-brick structure will serve 2,700 health science undergraduate and graduate students each year. That number is about one-half of UIndy’s 5,400 annual enrollment. For the first time, UIndy programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, gerontology, nursing, kinesiology, athletic training, and social work will be under one roof. The building’s many amenities include connected classrooms, simulation labs with audio and video recording technology, computer labs, and dedicated space for project-based research, as well as a 140-seat auditorium, café with outdoor seating, and a rooftop terrace. Student internships and clinical experiences will be part of a 4,000-square-foot health and wellness clinic serving UIndy employees and affiliates. The Psychological Services Center will provide clinical experiences in addition to low-cost evaluation and therapy services for community members. And that’s just for starters.

The space is designed for emphasis on interprofessional education, or IPE. The approach is advocated by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Association of American Medical Colleges, the Institute of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, and other respected organizations. Essentially IPE is an educational approach for creating clinical synergies among health professions. It provides students with experience in workplace collaboration, an essential skill for success in complex healthcare environments.

Welcome, Community Health Network

And thanks to a million-dollar pledge from Community Health Network, students will get meaningful preparation for their chosen professions with supervision and hands-on training alongside faculty and Community specialists. Community Health Network has leased 7,000 square feet in the pavilion for a rehabilitation center with private treatment rooms and a therapy gym, a five-year move that will extend its Community Hospital South campus north to the corner of Hanna Avenue and State Street. “We want to serve as an anchor for the community and, in that capacity, make a positive impact on quality of life for our neighbors,” says Deborah Balogh, executive vice president for academic affairs and University provost. “With a stronger focus on interprofessional practice, there are tremendous opportunities for UIndy to affect health and wellness behaviors in our own backyard.”

Providing accessible inner-city health care is an important part of the equation. But studying the complex relationships between environmental, social, and economic factors that affect health and wellness is equally important. “Besides providing direct services, faculty and students will have access to large, longitudinal data sets. Through applied research, they will gain new insights into health disparities among certain populations of clients, such as those who are similar in age, gender, or ethnicity,” Balogh adds.

The opportunities intrigue Jeff Bryant, associate professor and chair of the Phylis Lan Lin Department of Social Work. In the field, social workers interact with educators, law enforcement personnel, social service agencies, healthcare providers, and others, Bryant explains. Their cases often include children and at-risk youth, adults with mental health and addiction issues, families affected by domestic abuse, homeless veterans, and the elderly.

Focusing on health disparities

Pg6“UIndy’s focus on health disparities in diverse populations, combined with an emphasis on collaboration and community partnership, makes our new Master of Social Work degree unique in the city and the state,” Bryant says. Nicole Taylor, associate professor of psychology and director of the Psychological Services Center, agrees. “Moving into this state-of-the-art clinical facility with private therapy rooms and a children’s play area takes the psychology program to the next level.” UIndy has provided psychological evaluation and therapy on a sliding fee scale for 15 years, Taylor says. But the need for service is still great, with no signs it will diminish. “Even those with good health insurance have limitations on mental health coverage that prevent them from continuing therapy,” she says. “An increasing number of providers don’t accept all types of insurance, especially Medicaid. And, because mental health issues can make sustained, successful employment difficult, many clients are unemployed or underemployed.”

Stephanie Kelly, dean of the College of Health Sciences and professor of physical therapy, says location is essential when providing needed community services. “Nursing faculty and students provide rehabilitation services in Fountain Square and the east side of Indianapolis. We’ve known it is critical for clinics to be located physically in the neighborhoods where services are most needed. And data show this part of the city is in need.” Kelly says health issues in Indianapolis and cities across the U.S. are often linked to lifestyle. “Obesity, inactivity, chronic disability, and other factors have a negative impact on personal mobility and access to care, especially for the elderly. This facility will help us address these issues,” she says. “On the other end of the spectrum, the exercise science and athletic training components of the program will help individuals maximize their participation in sports and overall wellness. The possibilities are exciting.”

Anne Thomas, dean of the University’s School of Nursing, also believes the pavilion will enhance learning and career preparation for its graduates. “What we will establish are relevant, cutting-edge educational processes that give graduates the skills to think differently, work differently, and succeed in situations we don’t even know exist yet,” Thomas says. “Employers want nurses who are prepared to tackle future uncertainties and who can think on their feet in a rapidly changing environment. So our program is focused on looking at care in new ways and building new models for high-quality care.” Thomas is pleased with new simulation space that doubles what was available previously. “With built-in recording devices, we can observe both individual and team-based performance in a variety of settings. There is even a small apartment where students will simulate competencies needed for in-home care. Then we can assess the tape with students to suggest areas of improvement.”

The UIndy Health Pavilion was built in partnership with developer Strategic Capital Partners, CSO Architects, and Pepper Construction.