Sitting on 11 acres, the project—a joint venture between Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University—is on budget and on time. Named in honor of a "significant" gift of an undisclosed amount received over the summer, the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Case Western Reserve University Health Education Campus, in partnership with Cleveland Clinic, is scheduled to open in summer of 2019.
The clinic and CWRU are more than halfway through their joint fundraising for the $515 million project.
The new facility will bring together medical, dental and nursing students under one roof to encourage interdisciplinary learning and the team-based care that is becoming so critical in today's healthcare world.
"I kind of like to think of it as sort of the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis," said Dr. James Young, chief academic officer at Cleveland Clinic. "It's a large temple of learning focused on healthcare delivery. And you hear me very carefully saying 'healthcare delivery' because we're trying to get the focus away from medical, nursing, dental, the traditional silos of healthcare that had existed previously and focus on how we can interact in a little bit better way with respect to professional education."
The plan, initiated by former clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove and CWRU president Barbara R. Snyder, was to build a new medical education building, said CWRU spokeswoman Chris Sheridan.
"But then as the planning began for the medical education building, it increasingly became clear that if we really wanted to encourage collaboration and reduce silos," she said, "the best first step to doing that would be to reduce actual barriers—i.e., walls between buildings—and put the students together in one single space where they would interact regularly both in classes and in dining and in social situations, so they would really come to know each other well interpersonally and in terms of what skills and knowledge and policies and procedures each respective profession had, and how they can be complementary."
In its early iterations, the Health Education Campus was made up of four buildings, one for each of the schools: The CWRU School of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic's Lerner College of Medicine, CWRU School of Dental Medicine and the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at CWRU.
But ultimately, leaders decided that the four buildings would uphold the very silos the campus was trying to break down.
Instead, the four schools stand in the four corners of one unified building, around a large, shared indoor courtyard that reaches from the first floor to the roof. Chris Connell, the clinic's chief design officer, calls this the building's "living room," where students can gather to study or socialize. Circling the courtyard are four floors of learning spaces and faculty/administrative offices.
Also under construction, across Chester Street, is the dental clinic building, a three-story 126,000-square-foot structure where students can treat patients under dental faculty supervision.
Both facilities are designed by London architects Foster & Partners. The Health Education Campus broke ground in October 2015. The dental clinic broke ground in October 2017.
Design throughout the Health Education Campus' main building features simple finishes, lots of natural light and plenty of room for flexibility and growth.
"One of the things we wanted to do with the building was to try to leave as much flexibility for the future of healthcare training as possible," Connell said. "Nobody quite knows how healthcare will develop in the future. So it's very important that education, which is the core of it, is at least as flexible."
They've set aside space for the yet-to-be-invented technology of the future.
"I like to say it's not 'state-of-the-art,' but I like to say it's 'state-of-the-future,' " Young said. "People often ask, '(How) do we know what the future is?' My response is, 'Well, if you create the future, you're going to know what it is, so we're creating.' "
Already, the building will have high-tech electronics for education and for communication within the building and the different campuses in town, Young said.
For instance, the Health Education Campus will be cadaver-less. Anatomy, traditionally taught with cadavers, will be taught using virtual and augmented reality, such as Microsoft's HoloLens. The clinic also partnered with Zygote Medical Education to develop a virtual reality-based clinical anatomy curriculum for students.
Cadavers will be available for students elsewhere, but leaders don't anticipate them being used much in the future, Connell said.
"They'll be able to see, in technological ways, what you can't even see with the naked eye normally," said Ben Vinson, CWRU provost and executive vice president. "And so this creates the ability for students, once they leave this experience, to be better prepared than ever for two things: for medical practice and healthcare delivery, but also for the type of peer healthcare provision that really kind of marks where the profession is headed in the 21st century."
The building also broadens the opportunity for distance learning and enables the schools to deliver curriculum content around the world, Young said.
Alongside that, many students who come from other countries to learn in the building will take back with them "the cutting-edge ways in which interprofessional education can be delivered," Vinson said.
Young stresses that this is a completely new approach to healthcare education. When looking at what's been done and what the clinic and CWRU are doing, there are "vast differences."
"We do not have a model; we have created the model," he said.
Vinson said this project is a "feather in the cap" for Cleveland and the region, already known worldwide for its healthcare industry. He expects that it will attract students and faculty from around the world.
"And so I think as we search deep for the essence of what Cleveland is, we at Case Western Reserve are actually giving a solution in the sense that we are really elevating the prominence of healthcare not just in its delivery but in how it's conceived, how it's taught, how it's learned," Vinson said. "And that's going to be something new and elevate the city even further."