NU Regents approve $85 million UNK-UNMC rural healthcare project
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — The University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved an $85 million budget to expand the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s campus by building the UNK-UNMC Rural Health Education Building.
University leaders said the project expansion is aimed at addressing the need for healthcare workers in rural Nebraska.
University of Nebraska Medical Center chancellor Jeffery Gold said that 93 counties in the state are experiencing an increased gap in the need for workers related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gold focused on the gaps that specifically affect rural Nebraska counties.
“It is clear that there are many underserved rural and urban communities and that the UNMC colleges continue to educate a critically important proportion of this workforce,” Gold said.
He said that the expansion will add another health science building to the campus which will bring the study closer to home for many students.
University of Nebraska-Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen said that the survival of many communities depends on the need for more workers.
“If you look at the statistics, they are sobering for the future of the health care workforce,” Kristensen said.
The data used in the presentations mostly came from a 2022 workforce assessment released by the UNMC College of Public Health.
The executive summary of the assessment found the continuing changes in healthcare delivery, along with demographic and population distributions, could manifest in poorer health outcomes in Nebraska’s rural communities.
“Only the university can solve this problem,” Kristensen said. “We’re on the verge of doing something that nobody else in the United States is doing, and that’s educating health care workers and professionals in rural areas.”
The project continues a collaboration between the two colleges which saw a $19 million health complex built in 2015.
The new phase of the expansion is expected to begin in September of 2023, with expected completion around July 2025.
Some expected amenities include pre-clinical laboratories, simulated primary care spaces and an added Master of Health Administration degree option.