Just what the
Dedication ushers in new era By Randy Dockendorf
Yankton Press & Dakotan As a University of South Dakota medical student, Paul Tschetter has kept constantly on the move. Thatâ�?�?s â�?�?move,â�? as in relocating to different facilities nearly every year. The Sioux Falls student has seen constant changes during his time as a USD undergraduate and now at the Sanford School of Medicine. The Vermillion campus has seen a continual shift of students, faculty and staff as the Lee Medical Building has been demolished, one wing at a time, and then rebuilt from the ground up. â�?�?This last year, we have been studying and working in half a building when the old one was torn down,â�? Tschetter said. â�?�?I helped move into the new building. Itâ�?�?s been a long process, but we are finally getting into the new classrooms. Itâ�?�?s great to see this type of building. You are proud to be involved with it.â�? On Friday, the new $37 million Lee Medical Building was dedicated in a ceremony which not only packed the ground floor of the atrium but saw spectators fill the balconies on the second and third floors. â�?�?I never thought I would see standing-room-only on the third floor of this building,â�? said Master of Ceremonies Ron Lindahl, executive dean of the School of Medicine and dean of Basic Biomedical Sciences. The project, including funding, has been ongoing for a decade, Lindahl said. The move into the new building this fall brought a variety of feelings, he said. â�?�?The first day of classes, it was emotional for a lot of people,â�? he said. The Lee building features state-of-the-art faculty research laboratories, classrooms and offices. In addition to the medical school, the building houses the occupational and physical therapy programs, and it will be used by other graduate and undergraduate students taking classes in the health sciences. Tschetter commended USDâ�?�?s effort to bring together undergraduate and graduate students from various health fields under one roof. The interaction will provide an important lesson in teamwork as the students enter health care, he said. â�?�?You work in a hospital setting with groups of people that have different roles,â�? he said. â�?�?By design, you get exposed to different fields.â�? Most people donâ�?�?t realize the wide variety of health care students sharing the building, Lindahl said. â�?�?We have 1,800 students a year, and the medical students are only 100 of them,â�? he said. â�?�?This building is used by a large number of people.â�? The new facility enhances the medical program, already ranked as one of the best in the nation for rural medicine and family medicine by U.S. News and World Report. The first of two phases of construction for the new building began in 2004 with the demolition of the former Andrew E. Lee Memorial Medicine and Science Hall, which was constructed in 1952. Money for the project was provided by Higher Education Facilities Fund ($12.5 million), Campaign South Dakota ($12.5 million), federal appropriations ($10.2 million) and the South Dakota State Legislature ($1.8 million). The new building is comprised of a three-story atrium connecting the Graduate Education and Research Wing opened in 2007 to the Medical Education Wing opened this fall. The 157,000-square-foot building is wired for the latest technology and designed to adapt easily as medical technology and training changes. Prior to the dedication program, Lindahl gave a tour to U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson and his wife, Barb. The South Dakota congressional delegation â�?�? including Johnson, U.S. Sen. John Thune and U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin â�?�? helped secure federal funding for the new building. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s a beautiful building. Overall, itâ�?�?s pretty impressive,â�? Johnson said. â�?�?(The new building) will add a great deal. Itâ�?�?s an all-purpose building that will help research and will help recruit students and faculty.â�? Lindahl showed a lab where research was being conducted on the detection and treatment of various cancers. In another area, he showed an area dedicated to teaching daily living skills. In a different area, five examination rooms allow therapy students to work on patient care, which is recorded so the students can improve their clinical procedures. In addition, the building has been certified as â�?�?green,â�? or environmentally friendly, Lindahl said. The Lee Medical Building is believed to be the first state-owned building to receive the designation, he said. USD officials would like to expand the number of medical students, Lindahl said. â�?�?We have taken it to the Regents, and we have proposed to the governor and Legislature, to increase the size of the medical school classes. They are currently 50, and we want to expand it to 65. The earliest that would happen is 2011,â�? he said. â�?�?We have the capacity in Vermillion. How many additional clinical faculty would we need for Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Yankton? You are adding 15 additional medical students to each class, so thatâ�?�?s five more students on a campus.â�? As he opened Fridayâ�?�?s dedication program, Lindahl used the analogy of the huge atrium hosting the ceremony. â�?�?The atrium is a critical part of the heart, and this atrium is at the heart of this facility,â�? he said. Lindahl noted the tremendous private financial support for the new building, including $3 million each from Avera Health, Sanford Health and Rapid City Regional Health. Regent Carol Pagones noted the urgency of building new health care facilities. She called the new building â�?�?breath-halting.â�? Making the dream a reality was a difficult task, she said. â�?�?People asked: Where will you find the money? How will it be designed as a building for the 21st century:? Who will lead the project?â�? she said. â�?�?Oh, and by the way, did I say, where are they going to find the money?â�? USD President Jim Abbott alluded to the six-year period for completing the construction. â�?�?When I was a freshman at USD, I took botany instead of zoology. The only thing I know about zoology is that the gestation period of a medical school is 72 months,â�? he said jokingly. Abbott credited the congressional delegation, noting â�?�?you donâ�?�?t know how often I have darkened (Johnsonâ�?�?s) door.â�? Abbott also noted all of the other financial support which made the building come to fruition. â�?�?It would be nice if we didnâ�?�?t have to do that (fundraising), but if we hadnâ�?�?t, if we did not have that involvement, we wouldnâ�?�?t have the building we have today,â�? he said. â�?�?We have the building we dream about and not scrape by.â�? During the program, Johnson â�?�? a Vermillion native and USD graduate â�?�? noted his pleasure in seeing the projectâ�?�?s completion. â�?�?I have been looking forward to this, but not as much as you who have lived through this construction zone,â�? he said. â�?�?We started working on funding for this in 1998, and 10 years later, look how far we have come.â�? Johnson noted he has learned a great deal about therapy since his brain hemorrhage in December 2006. He said he holds an insight into the work of the USD health care students. â�?�?I am in a pretty good position to judge their success,â�? he said. USD Foundation chair Dan Moen noted Campaign South Dakota raised $130 million, with $13 million going toward the new building. â�?�?We hope to make continuing changes to campus through the work of the foundation,â�? he said. â�?�?We have the student union, business school and we hope to announce new housing alternatives.â�? Medical school dean Dr. Rodney Parry noted the new changes for the school. â�?�?We have gone through a long phase of construction. Not once, all through the years, through all the inconveniences, did (faculty, students and staff) complain about the facilities,â�? he said. â�?�?We have celebrated 100 years of existence for the medical school, but itâ�?�?s 2008, and weâ�?�?re starting a new century in a new medical school.â�? Brian Kaatz, dean of the School of Health Sciences, noted the transition of the health science courses over the years. Now, health science has become its own program, he said. After the ceremony, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital CEO Pam Rezac pointed to the impact of the medical school for Yankton. â�?�?This will help recruit physicians in the state and region,â�? she said. â�?�?This will benefit the Yankton campus of the Sanford School of Medicine. We have 10 to 14 medical students in Yankton for their third year.â�? State Sens. Jean Hunhoff (R-Yankton) and B.J. Nesselhuf (D-Vermillion) see long-term benefits for the state. â�?�?We now have the facility to match the program,â�? Hunhoff said. â�?�?We are growing our own, and itâ�?�?s the type of medical school that we need to attract young people to South Dakota.â�? Nesselhuf agreed, noting the impact far beyond the USD campus. â�?�?The medical school is a huge asset to Vermillion and South Dakota. We need to grow our own doctors. Doctors donâ�?�?t tend to flock to rural America and lower population areas,â�? he said.â�?�?I think thatâ�?�?s why it was easier to get the $1.8 million (in state funds) for the medical school. People realized the need for it. Itâ�?�?s easy to draw a picture for folks of why itâ�?�?s a necessity. They understand the need for doctors.â�?