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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

VIDEO: Northam Touts ODU's Telehealth Initiative as "the Future"

By Irv Harrell

Before a packed morning crowd in the atrium of the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center, Gov. Ralph Northam and Virginia Beach Mayor Louis R. Jones welcomed the expansion of Old Dominion University's School of Nursing into the city on Oct. 16. The school, formerly housed in the College of Health Sciences on ODU's Norfolk campus, relocated this semester to the center.

The move allows for expanded simulation labs for the neonatal program, a realistic home environment for student training in geriatric care and a home for a future Center for Telehealth Education and Research.

"The No. 1 challenge for the state if we're going to drive our economy is to be able to train our workforce and that is why I'm so excited to be here today because that is the mission of our schools here - to train our students for 21st-century jobs," Northam said. "There is no more promise in our future than in the health-care arena."

Jones hearkened back to previous city investment of more than $3.3 million for the design and development of the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center in what he called "the geographic heart of the city."

"The next generation of health-care professionals is receiving the very best training you can find anywhere - right here at what is now called Monarch General Hospital," he said to enthusiastic applause.

This fall, the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center, at 1881 University Drive, started offering upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses in nursing and telehealth training, providing students with dynamic new classrooms and hands-on opportunities. Summer renovations at the center provided the School of Nursing with a little more than 2,000 square feet of additional instructional space, excluding the 551 square feet that its nurse anesthesia program had been using before the rest of the school came aboard.

One of the great benefits of the expansion is the location of the center, ODU President John R. Broderick said during the unveiling.

"This expansion creates synergies with the adjacent Virginia Beach bio corridor, which includes Sentara Health, LifeNet Health, Operation Smile and Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters," he said.

In addition to a new telehealth center, ODU plans to launch other initiatives along with a phase II expansion of its simulation training facilities, enhancements championed by Provost Austin Agho during the event.

"Our future plans include establishing an interdisciplinary healthcare clinic," he said. "We also plan to establish a center for substance abuse and prevention."

Northam reinforced the continued need for expert health-care training in Virginia. The pillars supporting such health care are quality, access and cost-effectiveness, he said.

"What will bring this commonwealth and the country to its knees if we don't wrap our arms around it is the cost of health care, and what a great way to address cost by promoting telehealth," he said. "Telehealth is the future."

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