Last month, representatives from The Core visited the Riverpoint Campus of Washington State University in Spokane to find out how a community came together to transform land that was once the domain of Northern Pacific Railroad into a new urban campus.
This campus capitalizes on Spokanes top-notch medical community as well as Washington States strength as a major research institution and its history of teaching the health professions. It brings together the complementary strengths of multiple higher education institutions like the University of Washington through WWAMI the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho program to educate medical students from those states and Eastern Washington University. It also focuses on leveraging applied research for individual and community health benefits.
The business community helped spearhead the effort. Greater Spokane Inc., with its 1,200-strong membership, appealed to the Washington Legislature to help build a MedTech culture for education and business. The Legislature responded with funding to a master plan for the build out of an urban campus. The Riverpoint Campus became a reality. The first Health Sciences Building was dedicated in 2002.
The project at this point began to reach critical mass:
Innovate Washington the primary and lead agency focused on growing and connecting the innovation-and-technology-based economic sectors of the state got on board.
In 2006, the University of Washington School of Medicine recommended collaboration with WSU Spokane and Eastern Washington to create a WWAMI and RIDE (Regional Initiative in Dental Education) site at the Riverpoint campus. The following year, the first year medical/dental cohort of medical and dental students was funded.
The Legislature in 2009 approved planning and design funding of $4.3 million for the Biomedical and Health Sciences Building. That same year, the Nursing Building was dedicated, WSU College of Nursing consolidated its operations at the Riverpoint campus, and a feasibility study recommended that WWAMI Spokane grow upward of 100 students per region and medical residencies be expanded.
In 2011, the Legislature approved an additional $36.8 million for the Biomedical and Health Sciences Building. The facility is expected to be completed next year, at which time the WSU College of Pharmacy will move from Pullman to Spokane.
Medical students entering last fall will be able to complete all four years in Spokane if they choose, thanks to the addition of second-year medical education funded through community support.
The 2010 Tripp-Umbach economic impact analysis showed that at full maturity, the Academic Health Science Center will have an annual statewide economic impact of $2.1 billion.
What we discovered during our visit to Spokane is that a community with a concrete vision, big thinking, and political will can build something incredible. The Riverpoint Campus model of aligning future economic development with the health care and MedTech sectors represents what The Core and its research partners both universities and private institutions are working to build in Idaho. Lets create the collaborative culture required to get it done.
Tammy De Weerd, mayor of Meridian. firstname.lastname@example.org, 888-4433