Thanks to the generosity and vision of private donors and the leadership of Gov. Butch Otter, the Legislature and the Permanent Building Fund Advisory Council, our state has dramatically deepened its core competency in health care and health-related research through approval of the Treasure Valley Anatomy and Physiology Laboratories at the Idaho State University-Meridian Health Science Center.
The lab will house integrated physiology labs for biomechanics and functional anatomy. An 8- to 14-station cadaver lab will provide the critical foundation and essential hands-on approach in the study of the human body and its functions. A physiology lab will focus on virtual technology applications. Future plans call for an Applied Biological Sciences Learning Center, which also will encompass physical therapy functions, neuroanatomy, bioskills surgical training and research laboratories.
The project won the unconditional support of Gov. Otter, and Idaho stakeholders supported the project in a big way. Hospitals, state law enforcement agencies, private sector agencies, chambers of commerce and others played a major role in moving the project forward. The Legislature's appropriation of about $2 million in funding is being matched by Idaho State University through community partnerships.
This state-of-the-art complex will be the only one of its kind in Idaho and will consist of several teaching laboratories. It will promote the highest level of health science education for students and health professionals through access to physical cadavers and virtual technology. It will provide opportunities for advanced study and continuing medical education by giving the health care community and other higher education institutions and secondary schools access to the facility, which could open as early as fall 2014.
For example, ISU is partnering with the Idaho Education Network to provide high school students throughout the state with virtual tours and anatomy and physiology lessons and demonstrations. These will highlight the importance of behavior choices through contrasting healthy and diseased hearts and lungs. They also will highlight forensics, sports medicine, and other health and wellness applications.
The broader community will benefit from the lab in myriad ways:
Hospitals, clinics and medical organizations may use the lab for continuing education purposes, keeping more of their dollars in Idaho.
The labs will play a role in educating midlevel health practitioners who can help fill the gap in primary care, particularly in rural Idaho communities.
ISU, through distance-learning technology and the Idaho Education Network, will be able to provide virtual tours and anatomy and physiology presentations to every high school in Idaho.
Schools, law enforcement and emergency service agencies will use the lab for specialized training.
Community leaders see the lab as a catalyst for research and economic development in the health care industry that will strengthen the mission of The Core, an Idaho coalition for innovation in health, research and medical technology, and strengthen ISU and our other university partners.
Health care continues to be a major economic driver, adding jobs as other industries have laid off workers or refrained from hiring, and as the baby boomer generation ages.
Teaching and research activities involving laboratory science and clinical investigation have ripple effects in the economy. Look for the lab to create new ripples for Idaho's health care economy and workforce.