TULSA, Okla. — It is official. The approximately $55-million expansion of laboratories, classrooms and administrative offices at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences is open in Tulsa along with a new Office of the Medical Examiner laboratories and offices.
The new North Hall offers 120,000 square feet filled with brand new labs, classrooms for OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine students as well as graduate students in various programs. Currently, approximately 1800 students study at the West Tulsa campus and leaders are gearing up for more as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.
"For a long time we were the worst kept secret, best kept secret. However you want to look at it, we are not a secret anymore," said Dr. Johnny Stephens, president of the Center for Health Sciences and interim president of OSU Tulsa.
From the president to medical school students, those 2 News spoke with are thrilled with the new addition.
"It's all brand spanking new. So, I'm excited," exclaimed Juan Del Rosario, student, OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.
"I got to see this building go ground up, basically," said Rilleigh Ricken, second year student at the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. "So to be standing in it now is just incredible."
The new facility showcases new anatomy and neuroanatomy laboratories and office spaces, conference and meeting rooms and classrooms. Anatomy Lab Coordinator Thom Garrison walked 2 News Anchor Karen Larsen through the new anatomy lab where students will learn from their very first patient.
"They'll be dissecting cadavers and we'll be instructing them on that. We're looking forward to a brand new semester in a brand new place," Thom Garrison, Lab Coordinator, Director of OSU Body Donor Program.
In the new facility designed for Oklahoma's medical examiners, forensic anthropologist Angela Berg is focusing on moving into her new laboratory and office space. Under the public partnership with OSU, it tripled in size.
"We have worked in a very small building on top of each other for many years, sharing spaces, sharing chairs, sharing computers," Angela Berg, Forensic Anthropologist, Oklahoma State Medical Examiner's Office. "This is so much better for the families of Oklahoma. They're going to get the remains of their loved ones back faster, we can have more science involved with what we're doing - just a more fluid procedure than a small building where we are challenged for space."
New x-ray machines and CT scanners allow medical examiners to study victims closer than ever, according to Dr. Josh Lanter, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner. He said plans are already underway to hire more physicians to meet the 20-percent increase in caseload state medical examiner's have seen recently.
Enrollment in programs at OSU Health Sciences Center has quadrupled in the last 10 years, including the recently added physician's assistant program, health care administration, forensic sciences and athletic training, according to Dr. Johnny Stephens, president of OSU Center for Health Sciences. He envisions plans to grow the Tulsa programs even more.
"We have a new opportunity with the Veteran's Administration partnership coming on board next to our hospital, a new mental health hospital on that side as well, " said Dr. Johnny Stephens, president of the Center for Health Sciences. "That growth alone is going to let us add a hundred new residency slots to Northeast Oklahoma and Tulsa in particular. That growth is going to be tremendous."
With more physicians and graduate students with high earning potential come into the community, Dr. Stephens also believes Oklahoma will see new growth in the biotech industry, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and pharmaceutical discovery in the next ten years.
As the OSU-CHS community celebrates fifty years of service, Dr. Stephens said the mission statement for the College of Osteopathic Medicine remains the same as when it was founded in 1972: training primary care providers for rural and underserved Oklahomans.
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