Health center to undergo facelift
Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
The SMU Memorial Health Center was originally a 30-bed infirmary that serviced students in need of minor surgeries and overnight care.
A tour through the current health center reveals long hospital-like hallways, outdated lighting and external features and awkward room spacing.
"It was time for a renovation and a sense of freshness for our students," executive director of SMU health services Patrick Hite said, standing in front of a 40-year-old food tray cart.
Last week, the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation answered Hite's call with a $5 million gift to renovate the health center.
The center will be renamed in the honor of Dr. Bob Smith, a Dallas pediatrician and SMU alumnus whose contribution is part of the Second Century Campaign's push to improve university facilities and overall quality of student life.
"I am really thankful to President Turner and all the other people who contributed to making the renovation part of the campaign," Hite said. "All the other buildings were being remodeled, and we felt left out."
The current center, while up to date in all health-related areas, lacks the amenities of most 21st century buildings.
"People should look at how Caruth Hall was before and after renovation. It's not the academic quality that changed but the entire feel of the building. Our renovation will involve a change in image and not one in healthcare services," Hite said.
Hite envisions that the new center will optimize building space by consolidating different departments into specific areas.
"My office is bigger than it needs to be while some restrooms are very small," Hite said.
The new building will make it easier for students to find specific areas in the center.
Currently, the pharmacy sits behind the front desk lobby, which congests student traffic.
"There are entire parts of the building we cannot use because the building was designed for a different purpose," Hite said. "We are now an outpatient facility and have no need for these long hallways and kitchen and bathroom setups."
Improvements for the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center include updated floor plans that will increase the number of patient procedure rooms, counseling offices and private waiting rooms and will better serve the needs of students with disabilities. The renovation also includes upgrades to medical equipment and technology and enhancement of pharmacy and laboratory spaces.
Upon its completion in 2014, the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center will serve an estimated 3,650 students living on campus, including those who will live in the new Residential Commons complex which will begin construction this spring.
The renovated center will be one of many new structures and facilities on SMU's campus made possible by generous alumni.
"Bob and Jean Smith have a long history of generous support for SMU priorities and have always kept the welfare of students uppermost in their minds," SMU President R. Gerald Turner said. "This new gift will dramatically improve campus health care resources and provide support services that enable students to do their best academic work and fully enjoy the campus experience. We are deeply grateful for this gift, which will transform an important but outmoded facility into an up-to-date campus resource."
The center hopes to ensure that SMU's rise in academic quality is equaled by its rise in the quality of student facilities.
"It is an honor to align the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation with SMU in combining superior academic facilities with excellent student life resources," Sally Smith Mashburn Foundation president and treasurer and daughter of Dr. Bob and Jean Smith, said.
"After all, one of SMU's greatest responsibilities is to nurture the well-being of students."
Hite believes that the new health center will have a large impact for SMU's reputation as a quality institution.
"UNT, Texas State and Baylor all have much newer and renovated health centers. We want to improve for our students and for our university."