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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Health Sciences Groundbreaking Brings Promise of a New Era in Regional Health Care

By Harry Minium

Old Dominion University recently broke ground on a three-story, $74.9 million, 126,387-square-foot Health Sciences Building that will bring four programs scattered about campus into one location.

Scheduled to open in the summer of 2023, it will also aid ODU's effort, along with Eastern Virginia School and Norfolk State University, to begin a School of Public Health, an effort Sentara Healthcare is supporting.

The new School of Public Health will be located in existing facilities but will use the new building for research.

"Old Dominion understands the importance of coming together with regional organizations to create more opportunities that foster healthier communities," President John R. Broderick said during a groundbreaking for the new building last month.

"This new building will reshape both the physical and academic landscapes of the campus and significantly extends our role in providing health care for the community, as well as our emerging partnership with Norfolk State, Eastern Virginia Medical School and Sentara Healthcare. That partnership aims to address the health inequities in underserved communities, and those of us who live in Hampton Roads know we have our work cut out for us in that regard."

Austin Agho, ODU's provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the new Health Sciences Building and other facilities dedicated this week reflect the state's commitment to increasing the University's role as a leader in STEM-H education, health care and research.

"Old Dominion University is adapting as the economy changes to produce the graduates needed not only for these jobs critical to our economy, but also for those jobs critical to the well-being of our citizens in the state and region," Agho said.

Toykea S. Jones, a Norfolk native and ODU graduate who is a member of the Board of Visitors, praised President Broderick for working with state officials to get the Health Sciences Building funded.

"As board members, we had the privilege of watching this project grow from a mere aspiration to the point where we are breaking ground," she said. "President Broderick worked so hard to get this and so many other projects approved. It's been an honor, a privilege to serve with President Broderick. Thank you President Broderick for everything."

The building will be in the Monarch Way development, across Hampton Boulevard from the University's traditional academic footprint, at the juncture of 41st Street and Monarch Way. It will have exterior surface parking as well as ready access to the Chartway Arena parking garages.

Monarch Physical Therapy, which serves the local community and gives ODU health sciences students hands-on experience, will move into a modern, 11,000-square-foot facility on the first floor. It currently operates in a 6,000-square-foot space in a building separate from other Health Sciences facilities.

The new Monarch Physical Therapy will have a therapeutic gym, facilities to teach patients how to enter and exit car and a home environment lab that will allow patients to learn to adapt so they can cook, bathe and do laundry.

The new building will allow ODU to begin a new doctoral program in Occupational Therapy in January 2023 that eventually will grow to more than 120 students.

The Sofia and David Konikoff Dental Hygiene Care Facility will join Monarch Physical Therapy on the first floor. The dental hygiene clinic will increase the number of dental chairs available to the public from 30 to 36. As with the physical therapy program, the dental hygiene clinic offers low-cost treatment to many local residents.

Students will be able to utilize a new dental simulation lab. The clinic will serve more patients and teach more students.

ODU's newly accredited athletic training master's program will have access to a simulation lab and state-of-the-art teaching labs equipped with rehabilitation equipment. The building will also house lab facilities for the School of Medical Diagnostic and Translational Sciences.

The second floor will have classrooms and labs, including a cadaver lab. The third floor will be populated largely with faculty offices, doctoral student space and six research labs for the Medical Diagnostic and Translational Sciences faculty.

There are three classrooms on the first floor, but the walls can be broken down to create one large meeting space that can be used for health fairs, white coat ceremonies and other University events.

Bonnie Van Lunen, dean of the College of Health Sciences, said that space will become a meeting spot that is sorely needed.

"We've always had to go somewhere else when we wanted to celebrate the accomplishments of our faculty or students," she said. "We'll have the ability now to showcase more of what we do to the community."

Van Lunen said the dental hygiene clinic will have a director courtesy of a donation from David B. Konikoff, a Virginia Beach dentist.

"The dental hygiene clinic is just exploding, so we really needed to hire a clinical director whose focus is how to open this up to the community on a larger scale," she said.

Although the exterior of the building will be composed largely of traditional ODU orange brick, it also will feature a striking architectural design that includes huge, glass atriums on the front three stories as well as an open concept inside that allows visitors on the first floor to see activity on the third floor.

There will also be an outdoor walking garden with surfaces for patients to ambulate on during therapy.

CannonDesign and ODU's architects collaborated in designing the building.

"The building is going to be an open, welcoming facility," Van Lunen said. "It has a lot of glass. We love how it's going to look.

"The architects worked well with our faculty and staff, who gave so many hours to make sure we designed the facility not only for today, but for the future. We don't want people looking back in 15 years and saying, 'we should have done this better or made that bigger.'

"They really gave their heart and soul to this project."

Norfolk City Councilwoman Courtney Doyle, director of customer development and marketing for Sentara, said "it is incredibly important that we have this facility in our community."

"It is vital, especially in the middle of a pandemic, to help improve the lives or our community members," added Doyle, who has an MBA from ODU. "This facility will strengthen Norfolk as a leader in the health-care profession."

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