SHELDON, Iowa -- The Northwest Iowa Community College has commenced on a $9 million expansion and renovation of its health science building.
Construction on the expansion began April 19, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held this past week.
Once the expansion of the health science building -- formally known as Building H -- is complete, the four programs that use the facility will move from the original building into the new space. The original Building H will then undergo a major renovation.
The entire project, including the renovation, is expected to be complete by the end of 2022.
In April 2018, voters in the college's designated territory -- Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Sioux counties, plus the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn-Remsen Union (MMCRU) School District in Cherokee County -- approved a $14.1 million general obligation bond to pay for upgrades at NCC. The new facility is primarily being paid for with these funds, though the college is also supplementing the cost with some of its cash reserves.
Building H was built in 2004 and, after an addition in 2008, is around 17,793 square feet. With the two-story addition, the facility will be 48,292 square feet.
Four programs at NCC -- nursing, CNA training, EMT training and radiologic tech -- are housed in the health science building.
Enrollment in these programs has been steadily increasing, according to figures provided by the college. The health programs had 214 students in 2019-20, a 14 percent increase compared to the 2015-16 academic year.
Certain programs have seen particularly heavy growth -- there was a 148 percent increase in applications to the radiologic tech program over the course of three years.
Kim Karhoff, director of nursing programs at NCC, said the addition will have four "simulation rooms" and a nurses' station -- a simulated hospital, in effect, where the nurses-in-training learn the ins and outs of the job.
The rooms will have mannequin-patients with simulated pulses and blood pressure; the students can even give injections and IVs to the mannequins.
One simulation room will be set up as an emergency room or an operating room, and another will be set up as an OB-GYN room.
"In each of our simulation rooms, we will have a high-fidelity simulation mannequin, along with a control room and a debriefing room. And so students interact with simulations with our mannequin, and they get to role play different scenarios that we set up -- the simulation mannequins represent patients," Karhoff said.
There will also be a nursing lab with four patient bays (mannequins laying in beds) where the students can practice their lab skills. In addition, the new facility will boast classroom space, a student lounge, 20 offices, conference rooms, study areas, CNA lab and class space and an undedicated space that can be used for further expansion. The renovated Building H will have the back end of an ambulance where EMT students can practice their trade.