Healthcare Simulation Center and expanded programming part of second phase of Reading CollegeTowne
Alvernia receives $1 million from the County of Berks to assist in the $6.4 million expansion of the university’s John and Karen Arnold School of Nursing, a key component to the second phase of the renovation of the newly named John R. Post Center at Reading CollegeTowne. The awarded funds are part of the appropriations from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) and the project is one of 49 projects in Berks County that received a total of nearly $18.1 million in funding.
“Alvernia continues to work with our many community partners to lead the advancement in educational and technical workforce development for our region,” said Alvernia President John R. Loyack. “We are grateful for the County’s support of this project and the second phase of CollegeTowne, which will provide Berks County with a much-needed influx of skilled healthcare professionals.”
The project will address the need for RNs in the local health care industry by relocating, expanding, and modernizing Alvernia’s School of Nursing. The proposed project would add over 25,000 sq. ft of classroom and lab space, including a new Healthcare Simulation Center. The state-of-the-art simulation facilities will enhance Alvernia’s accredited professional undergraduate and graduate nursing degree programs.
“From the start, the County’s main objective was to use these funds to strengthen and build new foundations in our community that will reap long-term benefits for all residents,” Commissioner Christian Y. Leinbach said. “This grant allows Alvernia to expand its School of Nursing at a time when we have a critical shortage of healthcare workers, especially here in Berks County.”
The proposed clinical space improvements include multiple fundamental skills, health assessment and patient room labs, as well as a resuscitation quality intervention space. The patient room simulation labs will have associated control rooms for observation of student techniques and procedures and each simulation lab will have a debriefing room. The renovation will also include space for expanded faculty and lab coordinator offices, a meeting room, a conference room and storage areas for medical supplies and human patient simulators.
“This expansion of the nursing program enhances one of Alvernia’s flagship academic offerings and will provide cutting-edge technology and resources to our students, faculty and staff,” said Provost and Senior Vice President Glynis Fitzgerald. “We look forward to creating an expanded pipeline of skilled nurses that will benefit the health of our local community for generations to come.”
Relocating the nursing programs to the new John R. Post Center at Reading CollegeTowne, Alvernia will expand the nursing program capacity by 42%. By year five of project completion, the nursing programs will support 475 students with 120 graduates annually. The university conservatively estimates this project will result in 188 new RNs entering the region in various health care settings.
The university launched the CollegeTowne initiative in Reading in late 2019. Since its launch, Alvernia purchased a 240,000-square-foot living and learning facility at 401 Penn Street in downtown Reading, and completed the first phase of a $20 million renovation and retrofitting project. During that time the university has also assisted over 200 small businesses and entrepreneurs through the O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship’s Spark Business Incubator lab and has spurred six other development projects in vacant or abandoned buildings that has resulted in nearly 1,500,000 square feet of transformation in the downtown corridor.
The center is the university’s largest single facility and features many collaborative student gathering spaces, high-tech general-purpose classrooms, an esports arena, student housing and interfaith prayer spaces, and is the home of BCTV, Community First Fund, La Mega Radio and the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters’ Mother Veronica Resource Center and the region’s largest Starbucks.