OCC’s New Health Science Building Open For Business

The H. Hovnanian Health Science Building is building 102 on OCC’s campus. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

TOMS RIVER – Ocean County College recently held a ribbon cutting for its newest addition to the campus, the H. Hovnanian Health Sciences Building. The new building is named for The Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation, the generous donor of $3.75 million to the Ocean County College Foundation. The grant will be dedicated to supporting OCC’s health science programs.

According to Kenneth Malagiere, Executive Director of the Ocean County College Foundation, $2.5 million of that has been given as an endowment to grant scholarships to attendees of the College’s health sciences programs. The remaining $1.25 million has been approved for healthcare programs at Ocean County College.

Dr. Jon Larson, Freeholder John Bartlett, and Edele Hovnanian cut the ribbon, officially opening the new building. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

The total cost of constructing the Health Sciences Building was approximately $18,550,000. The majority of the project was funded by Chapter 12 which is supported 50 percent by the state and 50 percent by the county.

“The College is grateful to the County of Ocean for its unwavering support of OCC’s campus,” said Sara Winchester, Executive Vice President of Finance & Administration.

“It has been underwritten by not only our [Ocean County] freeholders and our college [OCC] but also the H. Hovnanian Foundation,” said Malagiere.

The Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aims to “provide funding for charitable, educational, religious, scientific, literary, or testing for public safety purposes,” according to a press release by OCC.

Present at the ribbon cutting was “guest of honor” Edele Hovnanian, daughter of Hirair and Anna Hovnanian and president of the foundation, who said a few words on her family’s behalf.

“Ocean County College has always been a part of our family’s life…I was raised on North Maple Avenue in Toms River so a good part of my memories and childhood is tied to Ocean County,” said Edele. “This gift from my parents is just the beginning.”

Two recent graduates of the OCC Nursing program attended the ribbon cutting to show their support for the program and its future students. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

“He [Hirair Hovnanian] had great memories with all the men whose names are now on all the buildings in the campus and it was about time that I had dad’s name here too,” she added.

Edele remarked that she was proud to have her father’s name on such a beautiful building.

The new H. Hovnanian Health Sciences Building is a 47,000 square foot, three-story building that was constructed for the nursing and health sciences programs, some of the largest programs in the college. It will provide anywhere from 600 to 800 students per day with various upgraded facilities, new resources and equipment, and more room, to facilitate a much more conducive and accessible learning environment.

“We needed a building that justified what we are doing here,” said Malagiere.

Some of the unique features in the building include Nursing Skills Labs with 30 hospital beds and training equipment, Simulation Labs with programmable mannequins that react to students’ actions, a CPR Training Room, a Phlebotomy Lab and Medical Coding Computer Lab, Continuing and Professional Education Lab with Exam Rooms, a Fitness Room, and a Public Wellness Center/Clinic with Reception/Waiting Area and Exam Rooms.

The new classrooms in the Health Sciences Building. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

A particularly cool feature of the new building is the Simulation Labs. These are four rooms set up like patient rooms with a control center in the middle, where students “can practice their skills in a safe environment,” according to Teresa Walsh, Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences, while being observed by faculty through a two-way mirror.

“Faculty can become the voice of the patient, they can change the scenario to see if they [the students] are meeting all the skills,” she added.

The simulation labs encompass ER, Pediatrics/OB, ICU, and other areas of medicine for a more well-rounded skill level. Whereas the program only has one sim lab and one control room in the current building, according to Walsh, they will now have four.

Another beneficial aspect of the new sim labs is a conference room located right next door where students can go to see a video recording of how they handled the patient situation in the simulation for better feedback.

The new area provides students with more space and better equipment to work with so that they are better prepared when it comes time to work on real patients. Not only this, but the expanded facilities allow OCC to expand its student population within the nursing program.

“We’re going to be able to open up courses that were closed out due to lack of space, so we’re excited about that,” said Malagiere.

Walsh called the ribbon cutting a wonderful day for the nursing program. “We kind of outgrew our building…it was built in the 70s, it’s very small,” said Walsh.

One of the Nursing Skills Labs in the new building; they resemble an ER. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

She noted that the new building provides the students with more collaborative space so that nursing students, who she said tend to gravitate towards each other, can work together comfortably for studying.

“We’re also going to have continuing education related to health sciences in the building too,” she said. “That involves point of care technicians, medical technicians, that work with nurses in the hospitals,” to create an interaction between the career side and the continuing education side of the program.

Walsh added that in addition to these titles, they will also have Phlebotomists and EKG technicians available.

“Generations of students will benefit from this beautiful building,” said Dr. Jon Larson, President of Ocean County College, in his opening remarks.

Among many thanks, Larson thanked the Ocean County Freeholders who “together with the state of New Jersey, bonded this project to the tune of $13.6 million.”

Present at the ribbon cutting were Freeholder John C. Bartlett, liaison to OCC, and Freeholder Virginia Haines, the honoree of the OCC Foundation’s upcoming Fellowship Gala on June 15.

Bartlett joked that “it’s only through the miracles of modern medicine that I’m standing here today, and so it is entirely appropriate and a great honor for me, to be in this health science building.” Bartlett deeply thanked the Hovnanian Foundation for contributing to this project to further health science education, remarking that in the time he knew Hirair Hovnanian, he knew him as “a great man.”

“Here at OCC, our student body and our education ambitions both continue to grow, and our college campus follows suit. We regularly undertake capital projects knowing full well, the quality of our surroundings is directly proportional to the quality of the daily lives of our students and is also a tribute to the citizen taxpayers of Ocean County,” said Larson.

Malagiere remarked that anyone can become a “Major Donor” by dedicating one of the classrooms or labs in the new building. Donor opportunities range from the first to the third floor and from $25-200,000. All donations will go towards supporting scholarships and health science programs.