UW-GU Regional Health Partnership announces new center in Spokane

Monday, September 9, 2019

McKinstry to design and construct $60 million ‘leap forward’ for medical education, health sciences research and innovation

Spokane is getting a new center for medical education, health sciences and innovation, with the announcement today of an 80,000-square-foot building at 840 E. Spokane Falls Blvd. that will serve as the new home for the University of Washington School of Medicine-Gonzaga University Regional Health Partnership (RHP).

McKinstry will develop, design, build and manage the four-story facility for use by the University of Washington and Gonzaga University. The universities have each made the commitment to enter into long-term lease agreements for use of space in the facility. Estimated at $60 million, the privately funded project leverages and expands the public-private partnership to reduce risk, expedite completion and save taxpayers' money.

“Working together, we are creating better access to health care for the patients and communities in Washington who need it most. With help from McKinstry, the UW School of Medicine’s partnership with Gonzaga is poised for a crucial leap forward, and we couldn’t be more excited about what this means for medical education and care across our state,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce.

“When we formed the Partnership in the spring of 2016, it was the intention of both partners that a new facility would be part of our collective future,” said Thayne McCulloh, president of Gonzaga University. “In fulfilling our promise to each other, to our students, and our community and region, we have reaffirmed our long-term commitment to broadening the array of health-related education and research endeavors, and to preparing the next generation of health care professionals here in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.”

The project brings to life the vision of McKinstry CEO Dean Allen and Spokane community leaders to develop a life sciences industry cluster that, like the Catalyst building energy cluster under construction as part of the nearby South Landing development, is expected to spur growth through innovation and collaboration between academia and industry.

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“The RHP building will benefit the dynamic faculty and students at Gonzaga and the University of Washington while creating an innovation hub that expands Spokane’s research capabilities through collaboration with local companies and nonprofits focused on delivering rural health care access in our region and beyond,” said McKinstry CEO Dean Allen. “The building itself will be a model of efficiency in the built environment, demonstrating that important buildings in our community can also be gentle on the environment and serve as exemplars for others to follow.”

Construction is expected to be complete by August 2022 at the site adjacent to McKinstry’s historic and award-winning Spokane Inland Empire Railroad (SIERR) building and Gonzaga’s Trent Avenue parking facility. The SIERR will become part of the health care innovation cluster, offering an additional 57,000 square feet for health science and medical industry leaders, startups and nonprofits.

Students will enjoy state-of-the-art teaching classrooms, anatomy labs, research and innovation centers, offices and study spaces planned for the new facility — with room to grow additional education programs and to embark on shared research projects.

University of Washington programs including the Foundations phase — the first 18 months of the UW School of Medicine’s medical education program — and the MEDEX Northwest physician assistant education program, will relocate to the building from their current home in the Schoenberg Center on Gonzaga’s campus. Gonzaga University’s Department of Human Physiology, part of the School of Nursing & Human Physiology, will also relocate to the new facility.

“This new building for health sciences education illustrates the strength of our partnership with Gonzaga,” said UW School of Medicine Dean Dr. Paul Ramsey. “Along with more space for our medical students and room to expand our class size, we are excited about the integrated education possibilities with other health sciences disciplines. We are grateful to McKinstry for helping to make this vision a reality.”

The planned facility fulfills a key component of the 2016 agreement creating the Partnership and the institutions’ shared mission to continue, enhance and expand medical education and research in Spokane. The partners originally committed to explore new facilities to educate and train health care professionals to serve patients across the state of Washington and beyond.

Since launching the partnership, Spokane has emerged as a top choice for medical students entering UW School of Medicine. Approximately 220 first- and second-year (Foundations Phase) students have studied on the Gonzaga University campus, and 85 MEDEX Northwest physician assistant students have completed their studies. Medical students report enjoying being part of Gonzaga’s campus community, and the medical school continues to attract more applicants than ever before.

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