Manchester University President Dave McFadden says the $20 million expansion of the university’s health sciences hub in Fort Wayne is a simple matter of space. Manchester on Monday announced the project, which would bring the facility to more than 110,000 square feet to house the university’s growing number of health sciences programs, including a new Doctor of Physical Therapy and Master of Science in Nutrition and Nutrigenomics.
“We need more space for those new programs, and especially with our first physical therapy students arriving early next summer, we know that we need to make an expansion happen,” said McFadden.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, McFadden said the goal is to continue to grow the health sciences workforce.
“The health sciences field is so understaffed across the country and especially in northeast Indiana. Anything that we can do to help fill those needs in hospitals and care centers, we want to do,” McFadden said. “The obvious places for us are intersections with programs that we’ve been good at for a long period of time, including things like pharmacy with pharmacogenomics, nutrition…and nursing and physical therapy are naturals for us as well.”
The project, set to begin next spring, will add 32,000 square feet of space, including a pro bono physical therapy clinic that will have a focus on amputees and a new nursing suite.
McFadden said nursing will be a large focus of the expansion.
“There’s an enormous need for nursing. We are located on the southeast corner of the Parkview Regional Medical Center campus, and [we] are partnering with to place our graduates into their system. They offer opportunities for nursing students in the region to work part-time for them while they’re in school and then offer loans that are forgiven if they are able to start working for Parkview. So, for us, it’s a hand-in-glove relationship. We know that they need the kind of students that we’re graduating, and we know that we can prepare students well for serving in a rural and regional community like this.”
McFadden said the expansion has been in discussion for some time, and the university considered building a completely brand new facility at a second location but decided to keep all of its programs under one roof.
“At the end of the day, one the strengths of our programs across the board and in health sciences is what’s called intraprofessional education, where students and practitioners in different parts of the healthcare system get together and learn from each other about how to work with individual patient cases,” he said. “And for us, it made sense to put all of our folks in the same building where they will have the opportunity to do that as a matter of course.”
Another key focus of the expansion is to create open space to accommodate future growth.
“We’re anticipating future growth in the next 3-5 years. We don’t know what it’ll be, but we know it will come. There’s been a steady drum beat of growth at Manchester over the years, so we’re building in capacity for more.”
McFadden says the expansion is part of the university’s efforts over the last decade to become a regional university that can meet the needs of northeast Indiana.
“The most pressing of those needs are related to healthcare needs in the region. We will continue to look for opportunities both to meet foundational needs through programs like nursing but also offer cutting-edge academic programs like pharmacogenomics and nutrigenomics that will be a draw for students from around the country and will help to equip the region to be a leader in health sciences.”
The expansion is slated for completion in the fall of 2024.