By Kirby Killough | 8:32 am June 16, 2018 | Updated 5:01 pm June 18, 2018
Located in Round Rock’s higher education district off of University Boulevard, Texas State University and Austin Community College are both investing in growing health care programs at their respective Round Rock campuses. Both campuses are located near Seton Medical Center Williamson, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Round Rock and Baylor Scott & White Cancer Center-Round Rock.
On May 24 Texas State University opened Willow Hall on the university’s Round Rock campus. The building will house three health professions programs—communication disorders, physical therapy and respiratory care. The programs’ relocation from San Marcos is a major step in the university’s plan to move the entire College of Health Professions to Round Rock, according to Ruth Welborn, dean of college health professions for the university.
“The idea was that because we are out of space on the San Marcos campus and because of all of the health care facilities that are present in Round Rock, it would be a nice arrangement to move all of the health professions programs up there,” Welborn said. “They could benefit from having students participate in educational experiences in hospitals.”
According to the university, the 107,708-square-foot building cost roughly $67.5 million and was funded by bonds and a donation from St. David’s Foundation as well as the Texas Research Incentive Program.
Welborn said that Willow Hall will provide 12 research labs, a physical therapy clinic, a speech language clinic and a sleep center for respiratory care students to work with clients.
Once all programs are up and running Texas State will have four health professions programs in Round Rock and likely more than 800 students attending classes in Willow Hall and the nursing building, Welborn said.
The university’s physical therapy and respiratory care programs kicked off in Round Rock for the summer semester, which started June 4. The communication disorders program is expected to begin in the fall.
Four health professions programs remain at the San Marcos campus. Welborn said the university plans to move those programs to Round Rock but is awaiting approval from the Texas Legislature for campus construction costs.
Austin Community College’s health sciences department offers courses in nursing, cardiac sonography, radiology, surgical technology and medical lab technology. Among other construction projects the college is currently in the process of expanding the lab space for two of those programs.
Patricia Recek, dean of health sciences, said a 2014 bond funded the construction of a new building on the Round Rock campus. General education classes were relocated into that building, allowing for existing classrooms to be repurposed for use in the health sciences programs.
A three-bed simulation lab will be added to the nursing simulation area, Recek said.
Recek said the labs feature high-tech simulation mannequins which breathe, talk, have heartbeats, perspire and emulate human physiological reactions such as turning blue.
“It gives the students the opportunity to gain the competencies that they need for making critical clinical decisions,” Recek said.
Recek said ACC is also increasing lab space for the cardiac sonography program in Round Rock. The expansion will add three beds to the program’s lab space.
Cardiac sonography students do some simulation lab work, Recek said, but also work with volunteers, so the lab is designed to accommodate real patients.
“This will give students opportunities for more practice, so when they go to an actual site they already have the competency and skills, which will just be enhanced when they’re working with real patients,” Recek said.