D'Youville opening health 'Hub' to serve students, West Side neighbors
A block party, including a scheduled tightrope walk by acclaimed high wire artist Nik Wallenda, was to be held Thursday afternoon in the Buffalo neighborhood where D'Youville College was opening its Health Professions Hub, a 59,000-square-foot facility that will serve patients in the near community while training students for entry into the workforce. Those opening the Hub say the needs to aid local patients and create more health care jobs are great.
Local health care experts project a need to fill 10,000 job vacancies in the field by the year 2024. Work on the Health Professions Hub began three years ago, with planners recognizing the concern for people leaving the health care workforce.
"This was a moonshot that we put in place three years ago. And to see it actually opening this week is really, it's a milestone for the history of the college," said D'Youville president Dr. Lorrie Clemo. "It really stemmed from the work of our faculty, and the innovative way that the faculty had been educating and wanted to educate the future health care professionals. So it really was an approach that they were putting into place. And we needed a facility that could accommodate that.”
On the ground level, Catholic Health System will operate the Sisters Health Center, where primary healthcare services will be delivered. Nearby, in a teaching kitchen known as D’Lish, FeedMore Western New York will host classes for preparing healthy meals, including those for clients whose health conditions warrant an adjustment to their diet.
Also on the ground floor is Vital Pharmacy, a full-service operation that will implement a system that takes many of the inconvenient steps from the patient or caregiver. Its compliance packaging system takes a patient's multiple prescriptions, sorts them and packs them into individual dated packets which allow the user or user's caregiver to follow the medication schedule.
"If you take five or six medications at eight in the morning, they will come in the pack, and they will all be in one pack at eight in the morning. This will allow you to track a patient's medications, and it will allow you to then see if all the medications have been taken for the day," said Michael MacEvoy, director of pharmacy services at the Hub. "You no longer have to go through the extensive process of refilling multiple medications at different times of the month, or going through the process of filling a pill box for an elderly relative, or even a child with special needs who requires medications taken at different times a day."
Up one level is the “Thrive” Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, where physical therapy, occupational therapy and chiropractic services are among the offerings. Chris Nentarz, a physical therapist at the Hub, said students will offer free rehabilitation clinics there to underserved residents.
“It's a healthcare desert, actually,” Nentarz said of the community. “There's not a lot of rehab services. There's not a lot of medical care. And it's very important that we meet people where they are, to give them these services. People don't like to travel, and the transportation systems on the West Side of Buffalo are less than ideal. So by being here, we give people access to innovative and equitable health care that they might not have otherwise.”
Student training will also be held within the Hub’s Simulation Center. Inside are mock-ups of a living room, doctor’s office and a hospital room, with seating where students will observe their peers in action. In that setting actors will portray patients. It’s in there where students will learn how to perform in various cases.
“They will get the simulation experience that they can learn in a very safe environment, with debriefing from the faculty about what they did right, what they did wrong, what they need to improve,” Clemo said. “And then most importantly, they'll have an opportunity to work with patients through the clinic and put all of that practice to work.”
Clemo adds that the college's other hope is for people utilizing the building become curious about health care occupations and perhaps begin a path toward a career. The Hub, she says, is truly a community center. The public is welcome to patronize the Starbucks on the ground level, and members of the community are also welcome to sit within the spaces available within the center.
First, they're welcome to help celebrate the Hub's grand opening.
“All of it was planned to be a celebratory, entertaining, fun event, block party for our neighbors,” Clemo said. “Our neighbors had been incredibly supportive of this project. They've been involved as stakeholders in designing it. And now we want them to celebrate with us because we are, in my mind, turning this over to the community on Thursday, opening it up for use from everybody.”