OU health building to help with future health care needs

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published September 24, 2012

Oakland University’s newly opened Human Health Building is aimed at providing jobs to eliminate health care personnel shortages.

The new 172,000-square-foot building at the corner of Walton Boulevard and Squirrel Road holds OU’s School of Nursing and School of Health Sciences. The $64.4 million facility features state-of-the-art classrooms, seminar rooms, an interactive media center, physical therapy clinics, and clinical, computer, simulation and distance learning labs.

“This building is creating jobs to meet the challenges of tomorrow,” said state Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, at the grand opening Sept. 21.  “This university is taking us to the next level in health care. We have a tremendous need in an ongoing situation.”

According to American Association of Colleges of Nursing officials, the United States is projected to have a nursing shortage that is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows. Last March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that job growth in the health care sector accounts for one out of every five new jobs created this year.

The new OU building “is part of a larger effort toward a looming health care shortage,” said OU President Gary Russi, “with OU’s increasing role in health care education and training that includes the Oakland University medical school.”

The new Human Health Building is “very fitting for the character of Oakland County,” said Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. “Students that learn here will have access to the best technology to prepare students for jobs that are in demand.”

By combining the schools of nursing and health sciences, university officials aim at fostering cross-discipline research collaboration. The state’s capital outlay budget, university general revenue bonds, a Kresge Foundation grant and a U.S. Department of Energy grant provided funding for the new structure.

Russi said completion of the new building could not have been accomplished without the generosity and support of longtime philanthropist, volunteer and community activist Maggie Allesee.

Allesee has donated more than $15 million to various community organizations and causes. She sings at local nursing homes with the Junior League of Birmingham, and has walked as a member of the Distinguished Clown Corps in America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit. She also works with Henry Ford Hospice’s Sand Castles, an organization that helps children who have lost a sibling or parent.

Allesee holds undergraduate degrees in education and journalism, a master’s degree in education and guidance and counseling, and post-master’s certification in gerontology..

“An official plaque on the third floor recognizes your contributions,” Russi said.

Completion of the building continues a trend of OU expansion that includes construction of four new academic buildings in the past 13 years. Next, a 127,000-square-foot Engineering Center is planned for completion in fall 2014.

The new Human Health Building also boasts an environmentally friendly design, with 256 geothermal wells designed to boost energy efficiency, the largest variable refrigerant heat pump system in the nation. Solar panels provide cooling, humidity control and water heating.

“The real phenomena of this building is that it’s a space to gather and collaborate,” said School of Health Sciences Dean Kenneth Hightower. “It is not about bricks and mortar. It is about people.” 

For more information about Oakland University, visit www.oakland.edu.