CARBONDALE — SIU Family Medicine hosted a ribbon cutting and open house for its new building Thursday afternoon on the SIH Memorial Hospital of Carbondale campus. The building, on the corner of Oak Street and University Avenue, is the result of a partnership between SIU School of Medicine and Southern Illinois Healthcare.
“Our key in Southern Illinois is working together,” Dr. Jerry Kruse, dean and provost of SIU School of Medicine, said.
SIH and SIU School of Medicine broke ground on the building in June 2018 and the project was expected to take 18 months to complete. It was completed six months ahead of schedule.
The first floor will house the school’s family medical clinic, formerly located in the professional building attached to SIH Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. It also has a lab, behavioral health rooms and a clinical lab for training students. The first floor conference room can be divided into two meeting spaces, and the dividing wall is a white board on both sides.
The building’s second floor houses the SIU School of Medicine’s Family Medical residency program and Physician Assistant programs, classrooms, offices and an anatomy lab, as well as a lounge for students.
The lab has two SynDavers synthetic humans instead of actual medical cadavers. They will also have two plasticized cadavers, similar to the “The Body” exhibits.
One large centrally-located space can be used as one, two or three classrooms. As one classroom, it will hold 90 people. Each side will can hold up to 24, with the larger middle classroom designed for 42.
The physician assistant program is taught through problem-based learning. Small groups of students work with a professor each week on a patient.
“They are learning the way they’re going to practice, so they are very prepared for clinicals and practice,” Dr. Don Diemer, director of the physician assistant program, said. “We love problem-based learning, we think it’s the best way to learn.”
“The caliber of learning we receive from faculty is now reflected in the building,” Destiny Petrowich, phase II PA student, said.
Dr. Lyndsey Adams, chief resident and third year student, and Dr. Sohaib Sajjad, assistant chief resident and second year student, also praised the education they are receiving.
“Space is another part of it. This ends the congestion and opens up privacy for consultations,” Dr. Adams said.
“Light is another thing. This building is full of light, which makes you feel better and sleep better,” Dr. Sajjad said.
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Dr. Quincy Scott, director of the Center for Family Medicine in Carbondale, called the building “better than expected.” He said that the School of Medicine has trained more than 200 physicians since it opened in 1970. Many of those physicians practice in southern or central Illinois.
Dr. Sharon Smaga, assistant professor at SIU School of Medicine and family physician, said the new building will help with recruiting medical students from the area who may want to practice here. If they go to a larger metropolitan area for school, they often decide to stay in a larger area to practice.
“We have an excellent variety of experiences for training with the rural population and SIU and its international students, even treating malaria and tuberculosis. They get a taste of a lot of different things,” Dr. Smaga said.
The new Lincoln Scholars program of SIU School of Medicine will even allow students to train all three years in Carbondale without having to spend any time in Springfield.
Several physicians who spoke mentioned the Dr. Penelope Tippy who died in December 2018. She helped with plans for the building.
“Penny Tippy is beaming with pride. There’s no doubt about it,” Dr. Kruse said.
Her husband, Roger, and sons Gabe and Daniel attended the ribbon cutting. Both sons work for SIH.
They say she dedicated 26 years of her life to promoting the Family Practice Residency Program and increasing the level of education it offered.
“This would have made her very happy,” Roger Tippy said.
“She probably couldn’t believe it,” Daniel Tippy said.
“You don’t really know how big of a deal it is,” Gabe Tippy said.
Editor's note: This story was updated with the location of the new building and the correct name for Dr. Don Diemer.