Everett Community College moved into its newest building last week, a $37.5 million, three-story structure that houses the college’s nursing, medical assisting and phlebotomy programs.
Liberty Hall also houses the health sciences training and criminal justice program. All told, about 500 students use the building each week.
“We’ve moved from the most dilapidated building on campus to the most state-of-the-art,” said Elliot Stern, interim dean of health sciences and public safety.
The building has 11 lecture halls equipped with cameras and video projectors. It has nine labs, and is designed throughout to encourage collaborative work among students — even down to the choice of furniture, much of which is on wheels.
For students going into nursing and medical careers, the medical assisting labs are outfitted like hospital rooms, with the same equipment. All the computers are touch-screen devices because that’s what’s used in hospitals and clinics.
“There’s a big push in higher ed to create teaching environments that simulate the work environment,” Stern said.
Included in the building’s new equipment are four high-tech mannequins — a male, female, baby and child — that can be used to simulate medical emergencies. The mannequins cost between $35,000 and $90,000 apiece.
In one clinic last week, instructors used the mannequin to simulate an asthma attack. As the mannequin struggled to breathe, two student-nurses jumped into action – monitoring its vital signs, fitting an oxygen mask over its face, administering drugs.
Slowly, the mannequin’s breathing and heart rate began to stabilize, the monitoring equipment showing all the vital signs returning to normal.
“The building’s great, the program is excellent,” said Angela Larsh, who is in her third quarter of the six-quarter program to become a registered nurse. Larsh said the mannequins allow the students to run through all kinds of critical medical scenarios.
The female mannequin even delivers a baby, offering students a chance to see something they don’t always get to witness in nursing school, said nursing student Jeffrey Cater. He and his wife, who is also a nursing student at the college, cut short their international travels to come back to school for the nursing program, and they plan to return to the developing world when they have finished their medical training.
Everett’s nursing program is aligned with the University of Washington-Bothell, and instructors from the four-year school teach on the Everett campus, Stern said. Everett is one of the largest Washington producers of the bachelor’s of science in nursing degree, with about 110 students graduating each year through the combined Everett-UW-Bothell program.