Building upon decades of partnership in academic programs to train clinicians to meet the growing demand for additional healthcare professionals, Med Center Health and Western Kentucky University (WKU) today announced that the hospital will begin construction of the Med Center Health Sports Medicine Complex on WKU’s campus. The new facility will provide space for WKU’s Department of Physical Therapy and Med Center Health’s new Orthopaedic/Sports Medicine/Rehabilitation group. The complex will also provide space for WKU’s baseball fieldhouse and will include the construction of an indoor multi-purpose facility, which includes a football field, a straight track and netting for training for various outdoor sports. The estimated construction cost, totally funded by Med Center Health, is $22 million, making it the most significant investment by a private company to date on the WKU campus.
“Building on our recent announcement to collaborate with WKU on the opening of a new UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green campus in 2018, this new healthcare and academic affiliation agreement further strengthens the commitment of the two leading education and healthcare service organizations in South Central Kentucky,” said Connie Smith, President and CEO of Med Center Health. Smith added, “This partnership creates a treatment and teaching environment that is mutually beneficial to our patients, the university community, and specifically to WKU’s physical therapy students.”
“This facility will ensure that our partnership with Med Center Health and the University of Kentucky to bring a full four-year medical school to our community will occur on schedule,” said WKU President Gary A. Ransdell. “The new building we announce today will free up space for the UK Medical School and allow our Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program to move to our main campus and be joined by Med Center Health’s Orthopaedic/Sports Medicine/Rehabilitation group. It also engages our DPT program with our WKU athletic teams in a new state-of-the-art, year-round multi-purpose facility and will provide a valuable new indoor experience for our campus community and the public through collaboration with the Preston Health and Activities Center.”
Construction is expected to begin in January 2017 and will include a 57,000 square foot, two-story building that will be located between the existing football practice field and the baseball field. The present football practice field will be enclosed to create an additional 83,000 square feet, and the existing field surface will be replaced with an artificial turf. Enclosure of the existing practice field will create an indoor training/education facility that can be used year-round by the campus and for other community based events promoting good health and exercise. The new facility will include a full size practice field for football; sprint lanes for track and training; netting for baseball, softball and golf; a high jump area; a long jump pit; and a pole vault pit. Construction is expected to be completed in late spring of 2018. WKU’s Department of Physical Therapy, currently located on The Medical Center’s campus in the Health Sciences Complex (HSC), will move into the new Med Center Health Sports Medicine Complex, thus freeing up the third floor of the HSC to become the home of the new UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green campus.
“We are exceedingly grateful to Med Center Health for their commitment to build this much needed facility on the WKU campus,” said Dr. Ransdell. “The Med Center Health Sports Medicine Complex opens new opportunities for the faculty and students in our growing DPT program. Connecting them to the Orthopaedic/Sports Medicine/Rehabilitation group and to our own Hilltopper Athletic teams will provide them with incredible new real-life learning opportunities.”
Med Center Health will become the official healthcare partner of WKU and a preferred provider in WKU’s health plan for faculty and staff, and the two organizations are committed to co-marketing the affiliation and brand name. Med Center Health will also become the exclusive provider of physician and rehabilitation therapy services to WKU athletic teams. Med Center Health will eventually become the operator of the on-campus University Health Services clinic.
Both Dr. Ransdell and Smith believe that this new patient service/academic affiliation agreement will generate new opportunities for students and faculty from various departments across the University to become more engaged in hands-on clinical and research activities related to sports medicine and rehabilitation services. The affiliation could lead to additional sponsored grant research funding, scholarship support and internships for current students.
WKU will provide a 99-year lease at no cost to Med Center Health for the land on which the new facility will be built. Med Center Health will provide WKU with rent-free use of over 100,000 square feet of space in the new facility. The construction will be fully financed by Med Center Health. WKU will be responsible for operating and maintenance costs for the multi-purpose indoor facility it occupies and does not pay rent to use. WKU will lease space in the new complex from Med Center Health for its Department of Physical Therapy similar to the existing lease arrangement it has with the hospital at the Health Sciences Complex. If Med Center Health ever elects to discontinue the partnership, it will transfer the facility to WKU at no cost. If WKU ever elects to discontinue the partnership, it will buy or lease the space from Med Center Health at fair market value, whichever Med Center Health elects.