“Our goal is to help our students become well-rounded health professionals who can treat the whole patient and the whole community.”
—Dr. Lesley Hallick
President, Pacific University
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From the top of the five-story Intermodal Transit Facility (ITF) near the Health Professions Campus (HPC) in Hillsboro you can’t quite see forever, but the view is sweeping and panoramic.
To the west, stretching in a straight line, is downtown Hillsboro. To the south, literally a stone’s throw across Baseline Street, is Tuality Healthcare, the county hospital and medical center. To the north and east, arrayed along Washington Street and the MAX light rail line, are Pacific University’s Health Professions buildings—two extensive structures of brick, steel and glass one at five stories, the other at four.
In August 2010, the second building, HPC2, and the ITF joined Creighton Hall in the newly dedicated Health & Education District. The University’s School of Professional Psychology (SPP) is now housed in the new building, after moving from downtown Portland. A new public mental health clinic administered by SPP also joined the mix in HPC2, as did new spaces for the schools of Occupational Therapy and Pharmacy.
If you stroll past the massive solar panels on the top floor of the transit facility and peek over the edge to the ground below, you also can see a bit of the past along with a glimpse of the future. Right now, there’s a parking lot between the transit building and the light rail line, edged with bushes and overseen by five tall fir and cedar trees, remnants of the woodlands and plains that once blanketed the area. Here, a third building is planned, which will bring the College of Optometry to Hillsboro, creating synergy with the College of Health Professions.
When complete, building three is projected to be at least 75,000 square feet and cost a minimum of $35 million. HPC3 will unify all of Pacific’s health professions programs within two city blocks in a modern green building complex. Quite a journey from 1945 when the North Pacific College of Optometry became Pacific’s first healthcare program and was housed in the basement of Marsh Hall. Today, the College of Optometry is one of Pacific’s most visible and successful programs. Its nationally prominent academics and research produce graduates who run eye clinics and conduct vision research across the United States and Canada.
However, according to alumna and dean Jenny Smythe, (O.D. ’93) the college’s 1960’s-era home in Jefferson Hall on the Forest Grove campus is outdated and overcrowded and has become a competitive liability as other optometry schools modernize and new schools pop up around the country. “We want to meet and exceed the competition,” said Smythe.
The same factors that drove the decision for Pacific to relocate its healthcare programs to Hillsboro—Tuality Healthcare, light rail access and a larger patient base—are factors in the desire to move optometry eight miles down the road from Forest Grove. Like the first two buildings at HPC, the new building will make extensive use of natural materials, incorporate trees and natural areas where possible, and maximize light and energy efficiency. Importantly, it will also include much more space for optometry students and faculty to congregate, relax and study. Extensive new laboratories for the growing Vision Performance Institute, which is conducting studies of 3D, children’s vision and computer vision issues, are also planned.
The physical location and design of new spaces is also a key to the interprofessional philosophy that characterizes the healthcare campus. From day one, new students attend class and work collaboratively across disciplines, mirroring the emerging model in healthcare practice. For instance, these days a patient may work with an occupational therapist in tandem with a medical doctor, a pharmacist and an optometrist.