McKinley gets facelift

By Nick Fawell

A major facelift is in progress for the McKinley Health Center.

New construction is adding about 7,000 square feet, a 10 percent increase, to the University health center, said Dr. Robert Palinkas, director of McKinley Health Center.

In addition to increasing the overall square footage of the facility, which sees an average of 500 patients a day, the “link/extension” project will also address the problem of mobility on the second floor, Palinkas said. Currently, it is impossible to get from the west end of the second floor to the east end without using the stairs or elevator.

“Once ‘lost’ some people will open most any door looking for a way to get from here to there if it seems like there should be a connection,” Palinkas said.

Rebekah Jones, junior in ACES, said she is very satisfied with the current facility but is glad to hear about the improvements.

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“The health service is really great here but it’s really aggravating that you can’t get around to every place,” Jones said. “I always get lost.”

Freda Poe, an administrative secretary at McKinley Health Center, is often directing lost students on the second floor. Poe said students get lost several times a day. Each time she finds a student looking to get to the west end of the building she offers the same response.

“‘You can’t get there from here,” Poe said. “The building is in a horseshoe shape. There is no second floor going from one building to the other.”

A second-floor walkway will be built connecting the east and west ends of the building, helping to alleviate the confusion, Palinkas said.

The second floor will also receive added office space allowing the center to create an open library area, more room for audiovisual health education productions, a conference room and additional offices for the information technology staff.

Another part of the improvements for the health center includes a well-lit, easily identifiable main entrance.

“Until now, our main entrance was inadequately illuminated, and some of our patients did not feel that its appearance intuitively identified itself to new users,” Palinkas said.

The new entrance will have automatic doors, better protection from weather and more space for people to wait for transportation. Palinkas also added that traffic in the lobby area will be eased as a result of the added space.

Additionally, more automatic check-in stations will be added as well as a new loading dock, which will allow the center to receive equipment during business hours without disturbing those in the waiting areas.

The extension project is the second phase of a major reconstruction project that began several years ago.

“The first phase has already completed a comprehensive internal renovation, a new slate roof and a completely new ventilation system,” Palinkas said.

This second phase of construction will cost slightly more than $1.5 million.

Construction on the entrance is scheduled to be finished in late February, while the rest of the second phase construction is set to be completed this summer.