National University of Health Sciences will unveil a completely renovated gross anatomy laboratory this trimester. The new lab is a high point in a series of major classroom and laboratory upgrades at the university over the last decade.
“Complete funding for the anatomy lab renovation was provided by a State of Illinois Independent College Capital Program grant, as well as a gift from Standard Process, Inc.,” says Mr. Ron Mensching, vice president for business services at NUHS. “We’re very grateful for both the state funding and the donation from Standard Process for making this project possible. We also thank NUHS students, faculty and staff for their cooperation and patience given the noise and inconvenience of a major construction project in Janse Hall.”
The construction project started in May of 2013, as crews took down old lighting, two layers of ceiling materials, and massive concrete auditorium seating. Removing the concrete required relocating a former phlebotomy lab in the basement below for safety reasons during the demolition phase. Meanwhile, cadavers and dissection tables were moved to a temporary anatomy lab housed in a former classroom. That way anatomy courses could continue through the summer uninterrupted.
After major structural work, crews revamped plumbing, electrical and ventilation systems. “Previous air controls included large and noisy exhaust fans with two aging HVAC systems,” says Tom Rohner, director of facilities for National University. “The new HVAC equipment is energy-efficient with a full dehumidification system equivalent to those used in health clubs and natatoriums. The system is designed to increase fresh air turnover rates while tempering air exchange through reclamation capabilities. The fresh air is conditioned and supplied from overhead and the return air is located at the floor level, which is designed to limit temperature loss and save energy in the process. This allows us to receive a consistent flow of fresh air in the room and not sacrifice personal comfort.”
The renovation includes several hygienic improvements. “New stainless steel sinks in the lab are operated by foot-pedal controls, so no hand contact is required. Last summer, we also replaced a storage closet with a large walk-in refrigerator for anatomical specimens,” says Tom Rohner. “In addition, the lab’s new flooring is hospital-grade sheet vinyl that meets JHACO standards. It is heat-welded to the floor along all seams to create an impermeable membrane throughout the lab.”
“The old lab had 21 tandem dissection tables, while the new lab has 33 clamshell tables. This increases the number of workstations in the room during a single class, and will help preserve the cadavers and keep the lab neat and organized,” says Dr. Robert Frysztak, an associate professor with years of experience teaching anatomy and neurophysiology at NUHS. “Each table will also have it’s own LED lighting unit at the correct height for optimal working light.”
Students and instructors will appreciate the lab’s other technological enhancements, including video cameras that broadcast to thirteen 42″ monitors spaced around the room. This will allow students to observe demonstrations without leaving their workstations.
“A new SMART Board in the anatomy lab will be an invaluable tool,” says Dr. Robert Frysztak. “Instead of drawing an example of what students are going to be dissecting during class, we can now pull up an actual image of a body and highlight exactly what they need to find.”
The SMART Board will also expand an instructor’s ability to outline or highlight portions of an anatomical image, broadcast it to the monitors, save the image, and digitally distribute it to students for quizzes, discussion and review.
“Coming up with a plan to better enhance the educational utility of the new lab was a joint effort of Dr. Susan Darby, Dr. Nathan Miller, Dr. Simone Joseph and myself,” says Dr. Frysztak, who was selected by the anatomy instructors to consult on the lab’s design with Tom Rohner and the university’s design consultants.
“Investing in this important renovation is just one of the many ways NUHS puts student education first,” says NUHS President Joseph Stiefel. “Emphasis on hands-on human dissection in the basic sciences has always been a hallmark of our curricula in all of our programs. This new lab will help us carry that educational tradition forward.”