Coe dedicates center that connects students to health care

Coe College President David Hayes speaks Thursday at the dedication of the David and Janice McInally Center for Health and Society at Coe College in northeast Cedar Rapids. The $2.6 million facility will provide healthcare training for students in all majors, including a minor in health and social studies, as well as partnerships for students at Cedar institutions Rapids MedQuarter. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Janice McInally (left) and her husband, David, and her mother, Barbara, talk to friends Thursday in the classroom of Dr. Timothy and Laura Sagers at the David and Janice McInally Center for Health & Society at Coe College. The $2.6 million facility will provide healthcare training to students of all majors. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — On the northern border of Cedar Rapids’ 55-square-block MedQuarter — packed with two major hospitals and more than 500 doctors, dentists and other providers — is the campus of Coe College, which now includes a center that helps students to study any major connection to the health profession.

With only a few weeks of work left before the David and Janice McInally Center for Health and Society officially begins educating all students who are pursuing pre-health pathways or have healthcare-related interests , Coe celebrated the $2.8 million project Thursday night with a dedication.

“The Center for Health and Society offers any major the opportunity to connect with allied health fields,” Coe President David Hayes told The Gazette at the event. “And with that being such an important part of our society – 19% of our economy is health-based and healthcare-related – literally every Kohawk who wants to be part of the healthcare ecosystem, they can come to Coe and connect with all of our many partners here in the MedQuarter.

Coe College – Cedar Rapids’ 171-year-old private liberal arts college offering 50 undergraduate degrees and 14 pre-professional programs – this fall reports total enrollment of 1,266, its lowest in at least a year decade and down 12% from its peak of 1,436 in the fall of 2014.

Among its undergraduate majors are biology, chemistry, neuroscience, nursing, and other related fields of study directly related to healthcare activities. Among its pre-professional programs are pre-medicine, pre-pharmacy, pre-physiotherapy, pre-medical assistant, pre-podiatry, pre-public health, pre-dental, pre-athletic training and pre-music therapy.

“We think this will be a very attractive opportunity for the potential Kohawks,” Hayes said of the center.

Among other things, the new facility includes a dedicated space for a 3D anatomy and dissection table.

“(The center) creates a space dedicated to advising, mentoring and preparing students pursuing clinical healthcare professions, as well as those interested in careers in other areas critical to the growth of the healthcare industry. health,” college officials told The Gazette in an emailed statement.

Coe funded the $2.8 million project with private donations – including major gifts from the Esther and Robert Armstrong Charitable Trust, the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust and a $700,000 challenge grant from the Hall Foundation- Perrin of Cedar Rapids.

The 10,342 square foot project, which began a year ago in September 2021, included 3,671 square feet of renovated space and new construction totaling 6,671 square feet.

A national council of advisors guides the Coe center, fostering collaboration between local and national healthcare providers. Board members include Tanager Place General Manager Okpara Rice; Tim Charles, president and CEO of Mercy Medical Center; and UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s President and CEO, Michelle Niermann.

This group and the center it oversees aims to position Coe as the “preferred liberal arts choice for future pre-health students and helps expand health-related graduate outcomes with enhanced networking and counseling.”

They also tout the center’s ability to provide students with “entry points into the healthcare industry”, a rapidly growing field that is expected to create 2.6 million jobs by 2030, and to tie relationships with companies and professionals through the MedQuarter.

“Coe students will track and intern with local health organizations, creating a potential pipeline of health care employees for the region,” officials said, citing an existing nursing employment agreement with Mercy and St. .Luke’s.

The center also organizes guest lectures and public health events.

“Any Coe College major could lead to a career related to health, nursing, wellness or health care,” officials said.

Art students, for example, could learn medical illustration; religion majors could study the role that spirituality plays in healing; and business majors could sue the health care administration, according to Coe.

In addition to its 10 health care-related pre-professional programs and more than 10 science and social science majors, Coe has a minor in health and social studies.

“One of the goals (of the center) is to prepare students for traditional and non-traditional health care careers,” officials said. “It can range from the areas you typically think of, such as doctors, nurses, and dentists, to medical writers, hospital administrators, and medical technology development.”

Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.

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