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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Redefining Moment

A city will see many momentous occasions during its lifetime. From natural events and political races to business openings and war industry, Evansville has had its fair share of memorable moments in history. One modern-day event sure to stick in the minds of residents will be the construction of the Evansville Multi-Institutional Academic Health Science Education and Research Campus in Downtown.

The campus will be the new home of the Indiana University School of Medicine – Evansville program, which currently calls the Health Professions Center on University of Southern Indiana’s campus home. Established in 1972, IUSM-E offers students interested in medical fields the opportunity to study with IU’s program in Southern Indiana. However, the campus currently has just 24,000 square feet on the third floor of the Health Professions Center.

“We can’t get in the new building soon enough,” says Dr. Steve Becker, director of the IUSM-E, who has been an integral part of the plan for the new medical campus.

When Becker took on the leadership role at IUSM-E in 2011, he announced plans to pursue construction of a health science education and research center. Progress on funding and breaking ground on the facility moved forward in 2015. Indiana state lawmakers approved $25.2 million in funding for the school in April 2015 and final financial appropriations occurred in October with the city approving $52 million in bonded funding for the campus.

“This new medical institution will improve the delivery of healthcare in Southwest Indiana and the Tri-State region, expand Indiana’s residency program, and provide cutting-edge training to the next generation of physicians and health professionals — while serving as a model for other communities to follow,” Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said at the facility’s groundbreaking Oct. 23, 2015.

Becker agrees with the sentiment, adding the new campus will help with the growth of Evansville, Southern Indiana, and the state as a whole.

“Somehow we’ve got to be a magnet for young professionals because they’re the lifeblood of the growth of a community,” he says. “Young medical students, residence, research, all those things are critical as a core of that. And I think Indiana University deciding to put it Downtown mattered, too.”

The facility is set to be completed in 2017 and open to classes in 2018. Not only will it house the IU School of Medicine and the IU School of Dentistry, but also programs from the University of Evansville and the University of Southern Indiana.

USI will move its accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to the new facility, along with its Occupational Therapy Doctorate program. UE will be set to offer several health science programs at the campus, including the physician assistant program. Ivy Tech of Southwestern Indiana is not a part of the initial phase of the campus, but officials plan to include the community college as a full partner in a future expansion.

The campus not only has found partnerships with the local universities, but with Tri-State hospitals as well. Current residency opportunities for Evansville students are few; only 18 educational opportunities are available at Deaconess Health. The new campus will expand positions at Deaconess, St. Mary’s Health, Memorial Hospital and Health Center in Jasper, Indiana, and Good Samaritan in Vincennes, Indiana.

“The combined support package (from the city) represents the largest amount of local government financial support for one project in the history of Indiana University,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said in October. “We very much appreciate the confidence that so many of you here in the Evansville community have expressed in this project.”

With its opening, officials estimate the facility could have a possible economic impact of as much as $360 million and add as many as 2,000 jobs by 2025. Becker adds the impact will extend far beyond that.

“We are a community that is collaboratively working together to solve problems,” he says. “We have a growing four-year branch of the IU School of Medicine. We will be establishing new lines of clinical research. We will be recruiting and bringing to our community new faculty. We will be adding new residency programs.

“When all the residency programs are established, I think we will become known as a model of how a region addressed a long-term healthcare need,” says Becker. “A board has been put together and the state legislature awarded $6 million to starting to expand residency programs around the state. That grew out of our project. I think it’s interesting that something that started here in Southwestern Indiana has had an impact on the whole state.”

For more information on the IU School of Medicine — Evansville, visit evansville.medicine.iu.edu.

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