Lindenwood University plans to move its nursing program out of the Nursing & Allied Health Center in Dardenne Prairie and back to its main St. Charles campus.
The move is part of a consolidation of schools at the university but no decision has been made about the fate of the building.
The move also means that separate nursing and health courses offered by the St. Charles Community College at the same location will also eventually move back to their campus.
SCC officials said Feb. 11 that they expect to continue to hold classes at the Dardenne Prairie location until at least the fall of 2017.
“As far as the building itself – what to do with it – those options are still being reviewed and no decisions have been made,” said Christopher Duggan, the university’s public relations coordinator, on Feb. 10.
Lindenwood bought the more than 69,000-square-foot former Barat Academy building in 2012 for $8.1 million. The academy moved to Chesterfield in 2011 after being evicted from the Dardenne Prairie campus for failing to pay its rent.
Duggan said the building could be used by the university for another purpose, or it could be sold.
“Those are all options – everything up to and including selling it is still a possibility,” he said. “It could also be used for something else. Everything is being considered.”
In May 2013, the university and St. Charles Community College announced a partnership that placed SCC and Lindenwood’s nursing training under the same roof and launched respective programs that fall. The university offers a Bachelor of Science degree; SCC offers a two-year associate’s degree in nursing as well as licensed practical nurse, occupational therapy and other health occupation programs.
School leaders said at the time they hoped the center eventually would become an epicenter of nurse training in St. Charles County and partner hospitals would use its facilities to train new recruits.
The decision to move the university’s nursing program arose from the consolidation of the School of Sport, Recreation and Exercise Science with the School of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, announced in January. Duggan said the university’s nursing and health program has about 150 students, although he didn’t have figures about how many take courses at the Dardenne Prairie location.
“The decision was made that the students in that program would be better served if it was housed on our St. Charles campus,” Duggan said.
University officials say a staff review showed that students enrolled in the bachelor’s degree program were “better served geographically by having those programs offered on the main campus.” Duggan also noted that much of the nursing program is already available online and the science component can be taught on campus.
Meanwhile, SCC officials say they have known about the university plans for several months.
“We’ve got a plan in place to move those classes back to our main campus and replicate what have there at the center,” said Christopher Breitmeyer, SCC vice president of academic and student affairs. “We will do it with no disruption in the courses at all. The students won’t be affected.”
Breitmeyer said that SCC are anticipating the move to the main campus in Cottleville will not have to be completed until the fall of 2017 or possible 2018 because their lease with the university runs to 2018. The five-year lease calls for SCC to pay the university $150,000 annually. He said the nursing and allied program enrollment is now around 350 or more students.
Much of the work with relocating the program will involve replicating a “virtual hospital” facility built by SCC at the Dardenne Prairie location. SCC was awarded a $1 million grant in 2010 to help pay for the improvements. The virtual hospital includes four state-of-the-art simulation labs including a birthing, pediatric and medical and surgical care.
Breitmeyer said SCC has plans to build six virtual hospital rooms on campus that will help deal with enrollment increases in the program. He said the college also will do some creative class scheduling to limit disruption. SCC plans to remove as much of its equipment from the Dardenne Prairie facility as possible, with much of the construction at their campus taking place during the summer months.
Breitemeyer said the financial impact on SCC will be limited because much of the financial outlay involved grant funds.
“We have funds available for renovation (on campus),” he said.