A new nursing lab. A virtual cadaver and surgical manikin. A new look for the old science labs. A new testing center.
When classes start in fall 2018, some of the major programs at Idaho’s newest community college will have new facilities, thanks to a $1.73 million gift from a longtime supporter and local philanthropist who graduated from it when it was a vocational school.
A week ago the College of Eastern Idaho announced the gift from Bill and Shirley Maeck. The money will be used for major upgrades to the school’s nursing and science programs and to build a new testing center.
“He’s been so generous that I really need to focus on that and honoring his life and his legacy,” said Ann Marie Peters, director of strategic partnerships for CEI, which emerged out of the former Eastern Idaho Technical College earlier this year after voters approved the creation of the taxing district.
Maeck, 88, studied chemistry at EITC decades ago, and made money as an investor. He served on EITC’s foundation board and donated money for scholarships.
“Mr. Maeck has actively been involved at the college for many years,” Peters said.
Peters said the college put its pitch together hoping Maeck would be willing to underwrite one of these projects, and was thrilled that he chose to fund all four. She said the college would likely be able to start bidding pieces of the projects in January. The college will likely hold an unveiling ceremony earlier in 2018 for new signs honoring the Maecks, and the new classrooms themselves will be done in fall 2018.
“We’ve got the wheels turning right now in terms of ordering equipment and starting to put out an actual plan,” Peters said.
Shirley Maeck, who died in 2004, was a surgical nurse, and the new nursing simulation laboratory will be named for her. Nurses can perform up to half of their clinicals for their certifications in a simulation lab, and the college will be able to graduate 100 nursing students every year with the new lab, up from a little less than half that now, helping to meet the local demand for nurses.
“This greatly, greatly opens up a bottleneck in our program by having this available,” Peters said.
The lab will go where the certified nursing assistants study now. Four rooms will be outfitted to simulate hospital rooms, down to details such as where medicines and medical supplies are stored so students can get used to working in that environment. There also will be an observation room, allowing students to watch from multiple camera angles while their peers work on their skills. The students will practice on manikins that can be made to bleed, give birth, go into cardiac arrest and act out other medical situations.
“They’re recreating a scenario that’s been created by a nursing faculty member,” Peters said.
The college has a smaller, incomplete mock hospital room now, across the hall from where the new facility will go. The future use of this room hasn’t been decided but one possibility is that the CNA classes would move there. The college will also use Maeck’s donation to buy an adult nursing manikin, for $60,000, and a surgical manikin, for $72,000.
“This gives our surgical (students) the capability of very precise surgery and very precise feedback,” Peters said.
And, the school will purchase a $70,000 virtual cadaver. Pluses of a virtual cadaver over a real one include that it can be dissected again and again, it’s easier to get and to store than a real body, and the college can comfortably bring in younger local middle and high school students to see it and hopefully get them interested in pursuing related careers.
CEI has four science labs now — biology, chemistry, physics, and a multi-purpose lab that is used for geology and for other classes that don’t require much specialized equipment. They were built in 1995 and haven’t been updated.
“They’re functioning but they’re not functioning well,” Peters said.
The science labs that will be refurbished and renamed in honor of the Maecks, coincidentally, are in a building that is named in honor of Alexander D. Creek. Creek, who died in 2006, was a friend of Maeck’s who was involved in many local organizations, including serving on the EITC advisory board for many years.
Maeck’s money will pay for extensive upgrades to all four labs. It will buy new fume hoods, new lights and sinks, and be used to resurface or replace old tables and buy new equipment.
Peters said these upgrades will benefit “pretty much every gen ed student that walks through the door,” since so many will take science classes to meet their general education requirements, and about half of CEI’s students any given semester will be taking a science class in one of these labs. They also are used by radiation safety students, nursing students who need chemistry, energy system technology students and many of the anatomy, physiology and microbiology classes.
And the school will use the money to build a new 42-computer testing center in a basement room that is used for yoga now. This will be useful for student testing, for CNAs and emergency medical technicians getting certified for the first time and for people who aren’t students but need to get recertified in these fields and have to travel to Pocatello now to do so.
“It’s CEI’s testing center but it’s really going to be more of a regional testing center,” Peters said.
Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757.