Western University of Health Sciences is addressing California’s dire need for more health care workers thanks to visionary leadership, California State University Chancellor Charles Reed, EdD, said during his keynote address for the dedication of the Health Education Center and Patient Care Center on Aug. 25, 2010.
California is in a unique and precarious position today, Reed said. The state is growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s growing fastest among the underserved population that needs health care assistance. One recent economic study predicted that California needs to train an estimated one million workers for allied health careers by the year 2025 to care for California’s 49 million residents.
"The role of all universities, public and private, is to prepare students to meet the future needs of our businesses and communities and families, and in doing so, universities need to be fully integrated in their communities," Reed said. "Here at Western University, community service has been a cornerstone of this university’s philosophy since it was first established more than 30 years ago. Today’s dedication represents another new chapter in the expansion of WesternU’s efforts to meet the needs of so many Californians."
The Health Education Center provides much needed teaching space and is home to the cutting edge interprofessional education program. The Patient Care Center provides a living laboratory for students who are embarking on health care careers, Reed said.
"It has already proven to be an incredibly valuable health resource to members of the surrounding community," he said.
The Patient Care Center brings together a Medical Center, Eye Care Center, Dental Center, Foot & Ankle Center and Pharmacy under one roof, creating a true health care destination for the Inland Valley and beyond.
The 180,000-square-foot Health Education Center houses the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, the College of Dental Medicine, the College of Optometry and the College of Podiatric Medicine. HEC features two large lecture halls, small group learning rooms, teaching laboratories in dental medicine and optometry, research laboratories, commons areas, conference rooms and faculty offices.
Reed praised WesternU Founding President Philip Pumerantz for his long-term vision and for continuing to propel the university to new, greater heights.
"He also deserves credit for developing a real sense of family and community here at Western University," Reed said. "The personal experience that students have here translates into the kind of experience that they can give their patients. And that is an incredibly important contribution to our society and to our state."
Reed also acknowledged the contributions of WesternU Provost and COO Benjamin Cohen, Assistant Provost for Strategic Operations and Clinical Services Joan Sandell, Executive Director of Facilities and Physical Plant Todd Clark and WesternU board member Vince Naimoli, who he has known more than 20 years. In addition, Pumerantz thanked the Board of Trustees for its support and Senior Vice President for Advancement Thomas Fox for organizing the dedication ceremony.
"What Western University does so well is to prepare students in a range of health disciplines with a focus on comprehensive and compassionate care," Reed said. "Thanks to the contributions of so many people and supporters here and not here, Western will now be able to do even more and better work on behalf of the students and the community and the state of California."
Representatives from the offices of Assemblywoman Norma Torres, U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano and state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod presented Dr. Pumerantz with proclamations. Pomona Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Frank Garcia and members of the Pomona City Council presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Pomona is proud to have WesternU serve as the core of its newly developing downtown, said Pomona Vice Mayor Paula Lantz.
"I am a native of Pomona and I remember when they took the long-empty Penney’s building and Buffum’s building and transformed them into these marvelous buildings that you have today, and this longtime vacant lot and underserved area combining into this wonderful medical facility," Lantz said. "So it is just a real thrill, a real sense of pride in celebrating this ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony."
Someone once asked if caring and science could exist at the same time in an academic setting, Pumerantz said.
"Humanism is a major part of the education and training of the health professions, and the best example of that is Western University of Health Sciences," he said. "These buildings are very attractive, they’re state of the art, they’re beautiful, but the buildings don’t really tell you that this is the university. It’s what’s in the buildings that represent the university. It’s the people. It’s the philosophy. It’s the caring. That’s what’s in these buildings that make a difference."