A recent proposal has been made to renovate the Schiffert Health Center, adding more space and giving more privacy to patients.
According to Rick Ferraro, assistant vice president for student affairs, Schiffert's current size can accomodate 10,000 students;however, that is not enough for the estimated 30,000 students attending Virginia Tech.
“We have a modest plan for expansion so it’s not a grand construct. The idea is to expand the building a little bit because we are relatively small for the size of our student population,” Ferraro said.
The façade of the health center is currently under repair to fix an underlying problem with the original construction. Ferraro had the idea for the expansion when he saw the lawn space blocked off for the construction site. He thought a single boxed extension similar to the 2007 renovation of McComas would be a reasonable solution to the need for space.
According to Hugh Latimer, campus planning architect, the proposed plan is to add a single story addition to the end of Schiffert, extending towards the Cassell Lot in the existing lawn area. This addition should provide approximately 3,000 gross square feet of additional space.
“One of the reasons we are thinking of a relatively small expansion is that we want to be conscious of the cost involved. The economy is improving but still stressed, so we want to keep things affordable. So we want to do something that is a modest addition but a very useful addition,” Ferraro said. “There are a number of reasons we need the additional space. We want to be reasonable about it. We’re not trying to do too much, just trying to do what is needed.”
The addition will relieve crowding in the existing first floor of Schiffert and provide the much needed additional space to support the health center services.
Another goal of the new addition is to provide privacy to patients visiting the center. Instead of small, open patient rooms, the new patient rooms would provide visual and acoustical privacy.
“One of the things you want to do in a medical setting is provide real privacy. You want to provide some sense of distance for two reasons. If someone is talking about a sensitive medical condition you don’t want someone else to overhear. The second reason is you want to provide distance between sick people,” Ferraro said.
In the current flu season, the health center has required students suffering from flu symptoms to wear masks while sitting in the waiting room. However, the expansion would provide a larger waiting area that would give more space between patients and keep illnesses better contained. The new space would also give more room to the current laboratory and allow extra space for the lab work.
Although the plan is only in the proposal process, it is labeled a high priority project on the 2014-2020 Six-Year Capital Plan that will be submitted to the Board of Visitors.
“Every two years, each state agency submits to the state for governor and legislative approval a list of Capital project requests. Tech's list of project requests is our Capital Plan- now we are preparing the Six-Year Capital Plan request for fiscal years 2014-2020,” Latimer stated in an email.
The plan is being prepared to be submitted to the Board of Visitors for review at the March 2013 meeting and then to the State sometime in the spring.
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