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JCCC Stories

OHEC – Resourceful, Responsive and Rewarding

July 8, 2018


Olathe Health Education Center focuses on the next generation of healthcare providers

While JCCC adds high-tech facilities to its main campus over the next year, there’s another high-tech JCCC building you may not know about near 151st Street and I-35 in Olathe.

The 50,000-square-foot Olathe Health Education Center (OHEC) opened in 2011 and houses classrooms and labs for the Practical Nurse (PN), Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA), Neurodiagnostic Technology and Respiratory Care programs. It also provides space for Johnson County Adult Education and various continuing education courses.

Positioned for the future

Perfectly situated for the medical programs, the building is located on the Olathe Medical Center (OMC) campus, where students do some of their clinical rotations. OMC personnel also sit on JCCC advisory committees for the various allied health programs, and hold meetings and training sessions in OHEC’s conference rooms and simulation lab.

Many PN programs don’t allow their students to do hospital clinical rotations with real patients. But, “Through our strong partnership with OMC,” said Christina Rudacille, JCCC’s Director of Practical Nursing and Health Occupations, “we offer our Practical Nursing students a clinical rotation in OMC’s Labor and Delivery, which most PN programs aren’t able to do.”

One of the hallmarks of OHEC is a state-of-the-art simulation lab, where the PN and Respiratory Care students practice their skills with patient simulators (lifelike adult and child manikins and body parts that can be programmed to replicate symptoms of various illnesses and medical conditions). Faculty also can make the simulators “talk,” thereby making the patient interaction experience as real as possible.  

The simulation lab was the driving force behind Respiratory Care’s move to the OHEC. According to Renee Portmann, Director of Respiratory Care and Neurodiagnostic Technology, “the simulation lab is a great way to do a safe run-through of a patients symptoms and analyze a student’s critical thinking skills. How fast can a student survey a patient and determine what needs to be addressed? This highly effective lab time gives students the opportunity to prepare before they ever have to interact with a real patient.”

Meeting community needs

OHEC’s location right off the interstate and in the southern part of the county also was ideal for the Johnson County Adult Education (JCAE) program, which helps adult students prepare for the GED® (General Equivalency Diploma) test and learn adult basic education skills.

Paula McLaughlin, JCAE Administrative Assistant, said that since the program moved to OHEC in 2014, staff and students have used many aspects of the building. “So much of our testing is on computers, so the computer labs are great for that and all of the computer-based learning programs we offer. Also, just having space for breakout sessions has been really helpful. And then things that might be overlooked – like plenty of close parking and a calming atmosphere – are important to our students.”

Additionally, many of the more than 60 students studying at any one time at OHEC for their high school equivalency are potential JCCC students – often in the CNA or Respiratory Care programs. “Many students in the adult education program enter OHEC and immediately feel a part of the larger JCCC community,” McLaughlin noted. “They are inspired by career options they learn about that they might not have known even existed.”

Sustainable focus

As OHEC Operations Director, Mike Stithem is proud of all of the ways the building is used. He’s also proud of how environmentally friendly the facility is. In fact, it was the College’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified facility to achieve a Gold rating.

The heart of OHEC’s sustainable practices is the ground-source heat pump – 48 wells under the parking lot – that heats and cools the building using the temperature of the surrounding earth. The facility also was built to capture as much daylight as possible, with motion sensors and light detectors maximizing light efficiency. Native plants, recycled materials, low-emission paints and sealants, and low-flow water fixtures are all features incorporated into OHEC.

“When this building was envisioned, the goal was to respond to community needs in growing allied health fields,” Stithem said. “On any given day, we have more than 100 students in the building. I’d say we are responding consistently to community needs.”

A healthy future

If your occupational interests focus on opportunities in healthcare, take a look at all of the health-related programs JCCC offers.

For more information about allied health programs at OHEC, contact the Director of Practical Nursing and Health Occupations, Christina Rudacille, at 913-469-2383, or the Director of Respiratory Care and Neurodiagnostic Technology, Renee Portmann, at 913-469-3588.

For further information about adult basic education programs at OHEC, contact JCAE staff at 913-469-7621.