By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ground broken for new GSU student health center
$8.3 million project to expand student care
Health Center Groundbreaking 068
Robert Whitaker (second from left), Georgia Southern University's vice president for business and finance, talks with Jayne Perkins-Brown (left), the university's senior associate vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, while Lori Durden (center, back turned), a member of the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents, talks with University President Brooks Keel (partially hidden) and Dr. Brian DeLoach, the university's medical director (right) interviews a reporter after a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday afternoon for the university's new Health Center on Plant Drive, across from the Nessmith-Lane Conference Center. - photo by JASON WERMERS/staff

If construction stays on schedule, one year from now, Georgia Southern University students will get on-campus care in a new Health Center with three times as many exam rooms as the current clinic.

Officials broke ground Wednesday afternoon for the $8.3 million, 39,000-square-foot Health Center, across from the Performing Arts Center on Plant Drive. The planned facility will not be about “bells and whistles,” but meets a critical need, said Dr. Brian DeLoach, the center’s medical director.

“Yes, it’s going to be a state-of-the-art medical facility,” he said from the podium, “but what I’m most proud of, and what I think our students are most excited about, is this building is going to give us the opportunity to meet the demand that we see every day.”

Georgia Southern has 20,500 students. On a typical day, the Health Center staff sees about 150 of them in the existing clinic, which has 15 exam rooms.

“The problem is, we get 220 or more appointment requests each day, so we have no way to meet the need, the demand that’s there from the students, and so as a result of that, we have to put off appointments several days out,” DeLoach told a reporter.

That is not uncommon in nonemergency care, but the GSU Health Services goal is “open access,” where patients get appointments when they want them, he said.

Toward that end, the new structure will include 48 exam rooms.

The Women’s Health unit, which now has five exam rooms near the others, will have its own area with 12 exam rooms on the second floor of the new two-story building. General primary care, with the other 36 exam rooms, will be based downstairs.

A physical therapy area is included in the design, along with a large classroom and other space for an expanded health education and promotion department.

Eagle Eye Care, the vision clinic now in a separate building a distance from the medical clinic, will also move to the new center. The health clinic already has its own pharmacy, but the pharmacy’s available space will more than triple with the new building.

“Our students expect the full gamut of primary care, and this facility, which will be a primary care, multi-specialty health care center, will allow us to be their medical home away from home,” DeLoach said.

Collins Cooper Carusi Architects designed the building in consultation with the Health Center staff and university officials. Juneau Construction Company, also headquartered in Atlanta, will build it.

The project is entirely state funded. State Reps. Butch Parrish and Jan Tankersley and University System of Georgia Board of Regents member Lori Durden attended the ceremony. Leading the remarks, GSU President Dr. Brooks Keel thanked them and also Rep. Jon Burns, Sen. Jack Hill, Gov. Nathan Deal and his entire staff for the building’s funding and approval.

“Without question, the health and safety of our more than 20,500 students is the number-one priority on this campus, so much so that our students’ physical and mental health is even more important than their academic prosperity,” Keel said.

Student Government Association President Azell Francis noted the saying that the wealth of a nation lies in the health of its people.

“Well, in Eagle Nation, we are both wealthy and we are healthy,” she said.


Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.


Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter