Penn State Mont Alto celebrated its new Allied Health Building — a 22,000 square-foot learning hub for the campus’ Nursing, Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) and Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) programs — with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, April 13.
The new facility includes simulation laboratories and an ambulance port for the Nursing program, enhanced clinical lab space and equipment for the PTA program and a modern simulated living space for the OTA program.
The public event, held on the campus’ quad in front of the building, was attended by Penn State leadership, students, faculty and staff; local leaders and community members. Formal remarks were offered by Penn State Mont Alto Chancellor Francis Achampong, Penn State President Eric J. Barron, Dean of the Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing Laurie Badzek, President and CEO of WellSpan Health Roxanna Gapstur and President of the Franklin County Area Development Corporation Mike Ross.
In his opening remarks, Achampong highlighted one of the building’s biggest assets, providing opportunities for inter-professional collaboration across the three disciplines. “The AHB will promote greater interdisciplinary learning that will prepare our allied health graduates to work on integrated healthcare teams.” Achampong also leaned into the campus’ reputation for producing highly skilled allied health care graduates by connecting the facility to the campus’ strategic identification of allied health as the campus’ niche. “This building will position Penn State Mont Alto as a first-choice destination for education in allied health,” he said. “With the thousands of OT, PT, and Nursing graduates Penn State Mont Alto has already produced, we look forward to solidifying our position as the premier institution for allied health in this region.”
With the nation facing a shortage of qualified and well-trained health care professionals, the need for investments in health care workers was a common theme among the speakers. Barron underscored Penn State’s commitment to supporting health care-related initiatives, which he described as vital to our shared future. “The new Allied Health Building and its state-of-the-art resources, coupled with our incredible faculty, can take our students to the next level,” he said.
Recognizing the toll that the pandemic has taken on health care professionals since March 2020, Badzek took a moment to recognize the contribution of local allied health professionals and of Mont Alto’s allied health students. “Should we give our nursing faculty and students and all our allied health professionals and students here today a round of applause for the good that they do for our world’s health?” she asked the crowd.
The community benefit of healthcare education was first among Gapstur’ s remarks, noting that the relationship between WellSpan and Penn State Mont Alto is a longstanding one based on service and trust. “The relationship between Penn State Mont Alto and WellSpan Health is good for students, and good for our community,” she said. “WellSpan hospitals provide clinical rotation opportunities for Penn State students, often paving the way for a long career at WellSpan or other health systems in the area.”
With his closing remarks, Ross applauded the University for making such an important investment to healthcare education in the region, not just in the overall quality of the allied heath and nursing programs and their respective faculty, but in the construction of the building itself. “Facilities matter. They matter in the University’s efforts to attract and retain both students and faculty,” he said. “And given the historic advances taking place in the healthcare industry, it is essential to have an educational facility capable of supporting those advances.”
The Allied Health Building, the campus’ first new building in more than 20 years, was approved by Penn State’s Board of Trustees in 2018, and construction began in August 2020. In August 2021, the campus celebrated the building entering the final phase of construction with the placing of a 25-year time capsule under the main stairwell between the first and second floors. Construction was completed in November 2021, with faculty moving into the facility between the end of 2020 through April 2021.
Hord Coplan Macht, Inc. from Baltimore, Maryland, served as the building’s architect and Kinsley Construction, Inc. of York, Pennsylvania, as the project’s construction manager.
For more information on the Nursing, Occupational Therapy Assistant and Physical Therapist Assistant programs, visit montalto.psu.edu/academics.