Thune hears pitch for health training center

Thune hears pitch for health training center Rep. John Thune (left), Dr. Jack Williams, USD dean of health sciences, and Vicki Walker, M.D. listen as John Paulson, CEO of the Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center (at right) discusses details of a proposed education center at the hospital campus. by David Lias The Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center will someday be more than a place that offers health care to area residents.

It will also serve the educational needs of people interested in fulfilling the growing need for rural health care providers in the Midwest.

Rep. John Thune, who was in Vermillion to visit with constituents and do a bit of campaign planning in his bid for Tim Johnson's spot in the U.S. Senate, listened as staff members of the Vermillion medical center talked about the potential for developing a Rural Health Professional Training and Community Health Education Center here.

According to John Paulson, CEO of the Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center, this proposal grew out of discussions occurring in the monthly Sioux Valley Vermillion/USD University Medical Center Task Force meetings.

The task force is co-chaired by Dr. Jack Williams, USD dean of human sciences, and Paulson.

In addition, members of the Dakota Hospital Association and Foundation board of directors and USD administrative leaders have also had discussions about how to work together in keeping the old Dakota Hospital and Clinic facilities in good operating condition.

These facilities provide nearly 20,000 square feet of classroom and and office space for the USD physician assistant, occupational therapy and physical therapy programs.

Williams and the University Medical Center Task Force have indicated there would be continuing interest in improving the clinical training facilities on the Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center's campus, even after the 2006 scheduled completion date of the medical school remodeling project on the USD campus.

With proper facilities, the hospital could provide classrooms and instructional laboratories available for medical, nursing, physician assistant, physical therapy and occupational therapy students on the Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center/Dakota Hospital Association and Foundation Campus.

"The health professional student recruitment and training and community health education needs and opportunities in Vermillion are exciting and unique, components of the proposed project," Paulson told Thune.

Paulson noted there are over 700 biology majors on the USD campus alone, and numerous other students pursuing or considering health science careers.

"The proposed training project is poised for success in meeting a crucial need for health care workers in South Dakota," Paulson said.

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