UNIVERSITY PARK – Approximately 400 Penn State students are served daily by University Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services, and in recent years those services have been constrained by limited space and privacy in existing facilities. The University took another major step in addressing that challenge Friday as Penn State’s Board of Trustees approved final plans for the construction of the new Student Health Center.
“This new 63,000-gross-square-foot facility will support the highest professional standards of practice in a state-of-the-art, supportive and caring environment,” said Gary C. Schultz, senior vice president for finance/treasurer of the University.
The new facility, designed by The Hillier Group of Philadelphia, will move University Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services to Bigler Road, adjacent to the Bank of America Career Services Center and Eisenhower Parking Deck. The building will additionally advance the University’s sustainability measures with a vegetated “green roof” to reduce stormwater runoff and costs to heat and cool the building. The five-floor building will be LEED certified.
The first-floor will accommodate reception and information desks, offices for health promotion and education, and a pharmacy. Patient check-in and exam and procedure areas will be located on the second floor, along with offices for physicians and staff, workstations and student insurance and business offices. Similar to the second floor, the third floor will include more clinical space and offices, along with radiology facilities and a clinical lab.
Counseling and Psychological Services will reside on the fourth floor, and will include offices and group therapy rooms. The ground floor will contain the physical therapy facilities and offices for information systems and health information management. The Emergency Medical Services area will include workstations, locker rooms and on-call rooms. The adjacent stairway will provide a direct connection to the first floor ambulance garage.
The exterior design of the building will complement the Career Services Center and Eisenhower Parking Deck. A driveway from Eisenhower Road will access a patient drop-off area, ADA parking spaces and ambulance bays.
Ritenour Health Center, Penn State’s first health services building, opened in 1929 and served not only faculty, staff and students, but all community members until 1972 when Centre Community Hospital relocated to State College. Two wings were added in 1956 and numerous renovation projects have improved services over the past decade.
Margaret Spear, director of University Health Services, explained to the board in May that the current facilities no longer provide the space needed for medical providers and one of the largest group-counseling programs in the country. Patient overcrowding further spreads illness and decreases privacy, and the pharmacy, which fills 150,000 prescriptions per year, has 12 employees working in a cramped area. She said the current facilities provide the lowest assigned square footage per student among other schools in the Big Ten and other large public universities.
The total budget for the new building is $26 million.