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We can do all kinds of great things

Sep 22, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Health and Science Center dazzles students, visitors

Community members were invited to tour the Health and Science Center at Central Wyoming College during dedication ceremonies on Friday, and many took advantage of the offer to see the facility for the first time.

"We're glad to have all this space for you to stand in and things for you to play with," Earth and physical sciences professor Suki Smaglik said to one of the groups in her laboratory.

Students were busy working in the lab, identifying rocks and minerals, and testing for carbon dioxide content under the direction of assistant professor Jaquelyn Klancher.

The professors showed off their lapidary rooms and rock storage areas, as well as some teaching tools like a geology based jigsaw puzzle and an "Earthopoly" board game.

"We love the space to spread out and fill with equipment," Klancher said.

Tom Bishop, the director of medical staff and services at Riverton Memorial Hospital and Lander Regional Hospital, said the center's ample room and open design should foster educational growth for students

"I love the light (through) the windows," he said. "It's a good learning environment."

Bishop, who has experience in a clinical setting, also was impressed by the nursing simulation lab on the center's second floor. As the tour group entered the "sim lab," a blue light started blinking and alarms went off near one doorway. One crew of nursing students rushed to the side room to help their mannequin patient, who apparently was not breathing and required defibrillation.

"This is a real hospital call system," simulation instructor Debbie McClure said.

Student Robin Kruze, who was practicing diabetic wound care in another lab room, said her classmates in the simulation area quickly become accustomed to the commotion associated with a hospital setting. Their realistic experience at the Health and Science Center prepares them for work in the future, she said, and Lindsey Anderson, who works in physician recruitment and employee recognition at RMH, agreed.

"This is very impressive," Anderson said. "It looks like a real life hospital situation, with numerous different patients with a variety of ailments. ... It provides real-life situations and experiences for students."

After treating their mannequin patients, the students can watch a live video recording of their work and talk about the experience in small debriefing rooms. Bishop said the opportunity for discussion after class makes all of the difference.

"To be able to do the actual hands-on is amazing, (but) the debriefing is the best," he said. "You can practice all day, but to be able to watch yourself (makes you more prepared). It's the experience of getting to see what you did."

He also was pleased to hear that CWC students will have access to cadavers in the anatomy lab beginning next year.

"You don't expect (that) at a community college," he said.

Before the human cadavers arrive, students will practice dissecting deceased cats in the center's anatomy laboratory. Sophomore Breanna Taylor said she has dissected six cats so far this year, including the one she examined during Friday's tours.

"I'm working on tissues now," she said to curious onlookers while one of her classmates identified parts of a sheep heart.

Students in the physiology lab tested hemoglobin this week, and professor Tara Womack-Shultz said they'll do a white blood cell count later in the month.

"With this building we can do all kinds of great things for our students," physics professor Bill Finney said has he hung suspended from the ceiling. His lab space is equipped with a weight-bearing rope that can be used to illustrate physics concepts.

As tour groups passed through on Friday, Finney donned a harness and demonstrated conservation of angular momentum by spinning from the rope with his arms extended, then folded. With his arms out he moved slowly, but when he brought them in he began to spin more rapidly.

Non-science students have found uses for the Health and Science Center, too. Tara Brown, an early childhood development major, said she likes to study in the new building, which was built with several quiet study areas near wall-sized windows.

"It's really nice, so I use it a lot," she said, adding that there are few distractions in the center. "It's pretty undiscovered so far."

They attended Friday's dedication ceremony for the center, which was paid for through an $11.5 million bond proposal passed by Fremont County voters in November 2010.

That funding was combined with $6.55 million in matching funds from the Wyoming Legislature. In the end, administrators said the 52,342-square-foot center cost more than $18 million.