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Officials, Community, Friends Gather to Cut Ribbon on CSM’s New Center for Health Sciences

May 9, 2023

CSM's New Center for Health Sciences demonstrates "how far we can go in building success when we travel together"


Sunlight streamed through expansive windows to illuminate the living moss wall at the College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) new Center for Health Sciences as students and employees gathered with elected officials and community members to cut the ribbon on a building that will revolutionize health care education in Southern Maryland.

“This space is an impressive display of Health Sciences programming that helps our students to attain career readiness through scenario-based learning, specialized program labs, collaborative learning spaces, and a clinical simulation center – all features that are focused on student success,” said CSM President Dr. Yolanda Wilson in welcoming attendees to the April 21 event. “We can create new beginnings of spaces and goals where we, collectively and with unified purpose, can think bigger and respond quicker to address the needs of our most vulnerable populations at both the institutional and community levels.”

The 50,000-square-foot building was almost a decade in the making, with efforts spanning three CSM presidents. The building represents Phase 2 in the development of CSM’s new Regional Hughesville Campus following the opening of the Center for Trades and Energy Training in 2017.

“Let’s pause a moment to honor that rich legacy that has brought us to this new chapter in the story of CSM’s healthcare programs,” Wilson shard. “Through the efforts of CSM’s fourth president, Dr. Brad Gottfried, the forward-thinking vision of a regional campus was realized with the groundbreaking of the college’s fourth campus in 2015 and the opening of the Center for Trades and Energy two years later. And, through the efforts of CSM’s fifth president, Dr. Maureen Murphy, this new era of health care officially broke ground in 2019 with the Center for Health Sciences as Phase 2 in the development of the Regional Hughesville Campus.

“While it’s been 111 days since I arrived at CSM, it’s been 1,333 days since we celebrated that groundbreaking on August 27, 2019,” she continued. “Many of you here today were also present that hot summer morning to envision this space. Since then, it has been quite the journey for all of us – a journey not only to build this facility, but also one to build a pipeline that supports our healthcare workforce right here in Southern Maryland. Shortly we will cross a finish line as we mark this milestone with a ribbon-cutting that will celebrate not only our rich legacy but also celebrate how far we can go in building success when we travel together.”

While the idea for the building is not new, the technology within it is: the center features specialized labs, a clinical simulation center, collaborative learning spaces and more, all designed to LEED standards. It will support healthcare careers from nursing to medical laboratory technology to medical coding, and more.

Following her welcome, Wilson handed the program to CSM Board of Trustees Chair Shawn Coates, who spoke about how the center will prepare students to meet the needs of the region.

“There is a strong sense of community here, and as you walk about these halls you will see how the programs and activities within these walls will prepare our students to meet the healthcare workforce needs of Southern Maryland,” he said. “This is proof positive that CSM provides our area employers with a healthcare workforce that possesses the skills and attitudes to meet employers’ needs.”

The center is opening at a critical time for the healthcare profession. Today’s healthcare workforce is at a critical staffing shortage. For example, the current RN and LPN supply meets 91% and 69% of the statewide demand respectively, according to a 2022 analysis by the Maryland Hospital Association. But, with even more workers anticipated to leave the workforce due to burnout and other factors made acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, this supply is projected to drop to 80% and 44% by 2035.

After Coates spoke, Wilson introduced elected officials who helped to make the day possible, including U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer, who has been a champion of the building and the college at the federal level.

“We are grateful for our federal, state and local officials and for their amazing support – our congressman and senators, members of the Southern Maryland delegation, and our county commissioners,” said Wilson. “The construction of this facility is funded 75 percent by the state and 25 percent by the Charles County commissioners. In further partnership, the three boards of commissioners in Charles, St. Mary’s and Calvert [counties] all share in funding the operations of this facility. And when it comes to equipping this facility with some of the most cutting-edge technology, we are grateful for a half-million dollars directed to the college through federal funding.”

Hoyer emphasized the cooperation that went into making the building a reality.

"It takes a village, and that’s what this building represents – a village,” he said. “County, federal, state and citizen leaders in so many different ways; the students, teachers and personnel make this institution run... We work together as a team. This is an indication of the success of bipartisanship and non-partisanship; everyone understands the importance of this facility.”

20230421_144438.jpgHoyer was followed by fellow elected officials Maryland Delegate Edith Patterson, the chair of the Southern Maryland Delegation at the Maryland General Assembly, and Charles County Commissioner President Reuben Collins Jr.

Patterson spoke about the legislative actions that the state has taken to address the healthcare workforce shortage and how CSM is a strong partner in this effort.

“The challenges we are encountering in healthcare shortages will not be fixed overnight, however, this expansion of programs will assist in filling the void for years to come,” Patterson said. “It is hoped progress will be made toward an equitable inclusive and responsive healthcare workforce and will bolster the capacity of the healthcare safety net infrastructure to deliver affordable high-quality healthcare services.”

Collins continued that theme, connecting the workforce needs to the coronavirus -pandemic.

“If the pandemic taught us anything, it was to ensure a path for nurses, technicians, and medical assistants to gain the necessary skills and education to enter the workforce to support the demand of patients,” he said.

04-2023-center-for-health-sciences-dedication-243.jpgNursing student Monica Corbin, of Waldorf, shared an inside perspective on how the building’s features are already enhancing her education.

“The first day the building opened, one of our favorite professors met the student body at the entrance and took us on a tour of the clinical rooms,” she said. “We saw how everything had a real-life feel including the mannequins with features that were unbelievably real. Their chest moves to the way they breathe, their eyes move, and their skin feels like real skin.

“All the specialty areas in the heath science trade have significant features that accentuate all of our studies,” she continued. “On behalf of all the students who are studying in this building today, and for the years to come – we appreciate your investment in us, our medical community and our futures.”

Corbin was followed by St. Mary’s County Board of County Commissioner President James R. Guy, who celebrated the fact that the center’s location will allow students like Corbin to pursue a quality education near where they live and ultimately stay in the Southern Maryland local workforce.

“Our community, like many around the country, is struggling with shortages of healthcare professionals,” he said. “If this challenge is left unaddressed it will significantly impact our residents, especially the aging population, which is growing fast and needs higher levels of care.”

CSM Medical Laboratory Technology student Allyson Raley of Clements took the microphone to speak about how the building is enhancing her education by gathering all of CSM’s healthcare programs in one place.

“This building really provides more of a hospital-like atmosphere, because everyone here has the same goal: they want to help people, and they want to do it through healthcare,” she said. “What this building does is show us the options, because there’s more to healthcare than nursing. Here you can get the exposure to all those different fields: things like pharmacology, medical laboratory technology, emergency medical technicians, and phlebotomy.”

Vice President/Chief Nursing Officer at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital and CSM 1996 alumna Dawn Yeitrakis emphasized the thought that went into making the building a “psychologically safe environment” where students have the space to make mistakes and reflect while honing their skills, which will ultimately lead to better outcomes for patients.

“These past few years have highlighted the need to care for our healthcare workforce with a focus on [their own] wellness,” she said. “I believe that has been successfully accomplished with this center. From the quiet, sun-filled areas for sitting and reflecting to the beautiful biophilic living wall, this space exemplifies a focus on emotional health and overall well-being and thus our students start off on the right foot.”

Calvert County Commissioner President Earl “Buddy” Hance pointed out that the building was built by a local construction company.

“It’s always great when we have large projects and that money stays in the community,” he said. “It’s a double bonus, out local citizens got to work in the project, and that money stays right in Southern Maryland.”

The final speaker in the program was John Lease, practice administrator at the Calvert Internal Medicine Group, who spoke about the many ways that his practice is partnering with CSM.

“Our needs, our patients’ expectations, can’t be met without a well-trained workforce,” he said. “Our mission needs a confident workforce. Our patients need an empathic, caring and flexible workforce. We need a workforce that understands the importance of standards of care and at the same time, feels comfortable working in gray zone.”

04-2023-center-for-health-sciences-dedication-252.jpgAt the invitation of CSM Dean of the School of Science and Health Dr. Laura Polk, attendees took self-guided tours to explore the building. Polk said that the building was specifically designed to lower the barriers between healthcare disciplines and help students understand how different roles within the field connect to one another.

“A patient receiving care for one or more medical conditions may be communicating with several different healthcare providers located in multiple settings,” Polk said. "With so many individuals and services contributing to patient care, there is a lot of room for error... Having all academic health programs co-located in the Center for Health Sciences promotes opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration across the curriculum. This ultimately leads to better patient care in our Southern Maryland community.”

04-2023-center-for-health-sciences-dedication-264.jpgThe Center for Health Sciences is located at 6105 Foster Place, Hughesville, Md. It serves as a central, convenient location for the college's health programs and instruction. It is approximately 50,000 square feet, designed to LEED standards and features specialized health sciences laboratories for CSM’s programs in nursing, emergency medical services, rehabilitation, wellness and fitness, pharmacy technician, medical assisting, health information management and medical coding, and medical laboratory technology. The center also includes a clinical simulation center, collaborative learning spaces, classrooms, a computer lab, faculty and staff offices, a student success suite, and a large multipurpose meeting room. To learn more about CSM’s healthcare programs, visit https://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/pathways/health/index.html.

To view photographs from the April 21 ribbon-cutting, please visit https://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/p354432262.

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