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Anne Arundel Community College celebrates new Health and Life Sciences Building at grand opening

Students learning from the new Health and Life Sciences building at Anne Arundel Community College will work in rooms that mimic the hospitals, clinics, labs and ambulances they will encounter after graduation, and will train in life-saving techniques using anatomically accurate mannequins which breathe and even speak.

Assistant Dean of Nursing Scott Olden said he is still learning about the advanced technology in the building, where he can wirelessly connect to the 18 biology labs, 20 health labs and simulation labs. It takes a long time to walk through the three-story, 175,000-square-foot building, Olden said. It houses the college’s nursing program, physical therapy program and other health-related studies.

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“This building has so much capacity to train nurses and with all the technology in terms of simulation, I’m very excited,” Olden said.

The building opened to students earlier this year and Tuesday evening school leaders and public officials gathered to hold a grand opening.

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Olden said there are pockets of space throughout the building for students to study in, something he found valuable as a student himself.

“Students really need a place of their own in order to study,” he said.

Raphael Roman, who is a health, fitness and exercise studies student, made use of one of the new study spaces upstairs on the third floor while the celebration took place below. He has noticed that the new building has a number of rooms that are specialized for training, such as a the physical therapist assistant lab.

“The better the resources we have, we have the better we are able to learn,” Roman said. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful building.”

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Among other specialties, the new building has an emergency medical technician Lab, a simulation center, a radiologic technology lab, a surgical technology lab and a dental lab. The simulation center has six areas resembling hospital rooms and four resembling medical exam rooms. There are also two touch-screen tables with digital cadavers, called Anatomages, which students can use to learn about human anatomy.

Olden said the new building also uses advanced mannequins which closely mimic human bodily functions. The mannequins blink, can be programmed to have changing vital signs and can even be programmed to speak to students, imitating the mean demeanor some patients exhibit during treatment.

Olden hopes to expand the reach and diversity of the nursing program, and educate middle and high school students about the importance of health care.

Emergency workers who will respond to disasters big and small will be trained at the new facility, along with nurses who will go on to work at hospitals, state Sen. Sarah Elfreth said.

“It could not come at a better moment,” Elfreth said.

The total cost of the building is about $117 million, including $8 million to design the project, $96.2 million to build it and $13 million for furnishings, according to AACC.

“It’s absolutely worth every penny. I want to thank the Board and [College President Dawn Lindsay] and everyone for thinking big,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said.

The building is expected to earn a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, and is 35% more efficient than a building which simply complies to environmental code, the school said. The landscaping around the building will provide habitat. Trees that were cut down to make room for the project on campus were milled and used in the building.

“It’s a gem,” Del. Sid Saab said. “The quality of students that leave here are amazing.”

Lindsay thanked students and staff for dealing with two years worth of traffic delays and detours related to construction, as well as county and state officials who helped fund the project.

“Thank you for your financial support and your belief in this work,” she said.

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