UMSL Patient Care Center, new home for College of Optometry, hosts grand opening
“This is a dream that has been a long time in the making,” said College of Optometry Dean Larry Davis as he welcomed a crowd of students, faculty, community members, alumni and other friends to the grand opening of the new Patient Care Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis last Friday afternoon.
Davis, who spoke after those in attendance had the opportunity to tour the new, state-of-the art facility and enjoy refreshments and string music in the building’s sun-filled atrium, was quick to mention that the Patient Care Center’s coming to fruition was only possible because of the work of many dedicated individuals.
“A project such as this takes a cast of a thousand,” Davis said of the two-story, HOK-designed building. Its many offerings include an open, flowing floor plan, a gorgeous abundance of natural light, and no less than 35,000 square feet of clinical space for adult and pediatric eye care services.
“Those contributors – from faculty to students to alumni and other stakeholders – all have to come together at just the right moments and all at different times,” Davis added. “It’s really quite a remarkable feat.”
Davis paid special tribute to former UMSL Chancellor Blanche Touhill, also in attendance for the festivities, who he said first recognized the need for the new space during her tenure.
“Blanche is the one who really started all of this,” he said. “We wouldn’t be here today without her early and integral insight.”
Current UMSL Chancellor Tom George praised Davis’s own steadfast leadership, along with the resilient creativity of all parties involved. He emphasized that he was especially impressed by the work of the optometry students who went to bat for the new Patient Care Center and indeed helped to fund it.
“I want to particularly acknowledge the students,” said George. “The students drove hard for this. They willingly voted for an increase in their own fees, not only to benefit themselves during their time here, but so that future students and the community would also benefit. Their actions are really an exemplary representation of the spirit of UMSL.”
The Patient Care Center’s community connection is a special point of pride according to Davis – one he hopes to continue to build upon in the coming years. Thanks to the 13,000 square feet of additional support space the building offers, partnerships with nursing, dental and other health-care providers will be a future possibility.
“We’re bringing health care back to where it all began,” Davis said, alluding to the former Normandy hospital which used to sit where the center now stands, as well the great legacy of care in the region at large. “We’re really in the business of enriching lives.”
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