California University of Science and Medicine - School of Medicine
San Bernardino County, part of the sprawling “Inland Empire” east of Los Angeles, is particularly underserved when it comes to healthcare: it averages fewer than 35 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents, roughly half of the recommended benchmark for accessible care.
The not-for-profit California University of Science and Medicine (CUSM) has a mission to improve healthcare by training physicians dedicated to practicing in underserved areas. Studies have shown that most physicians practice medicine within 75 miles of their residency programs. CUSM sought to build a new campus in San Bernardino County near a regional medical center, creating an interactive medical community with a progressive curriculum that would provide a more balanced and relevant learning experience for future physicians. It formed a partnership with Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, one of California’s most economically challenged communities.
The School of Medicine is the first building and anchor of the new Colton campus. The HMC and SmithGroup team embarked on an ambitious design-build plan that saved substantial time and money. It took cues from commercial building projects, using a tilt-up concrete construction system and finishes more typically associated with office buildings. It also made significant changes to the original site design, saving millions by reducing export material, improving water management, and collaborating with the county for joint use of stormwater facilities. HMC, in a collaborative spirit with SmithGroup and the entire design-build team, carefully tracked and assessed cost implications for each engineering and design decision, the team completed the three-story, 85,0000-square-foot project nine months ahead of schedule and $1.5 million under budget.
Lab and active learning classrooms are ideally suited to the school’s medical education curriculum that emphasizes clinical reasoning and focuses on patient outcomes. Four simulation rooms, including an operating room, guide students through real-world medical scenarios with manikins. A standardized patient training suite improves patient interaction skills through practicing with members of the community. Multi-media systems allow sessions with visiting speakers and prominent faculty to be recorded and streamed to other areas of the building for broader dissemination.
A generous plaza in front of the building connects to the Arrowhead Medical Center, fostering interaction between medical students and health practitioners. Two lecture halls open on to the plaza where ample seating, a shady tree grove and water feature provide pleasant areas for study, socialization and relaxation for students and practicing physicians. The space also serves to host graduation ceremonies and other events. Drought-tolerant native plants and a palette of hardscape materials unite with those in the existing medical center to create a cohesive campus aesthetic.
Completed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the health crisis underscored the urgent need for well-trained medical professionals in every community. By efficiently and affordably providing a facility to train physicians in an underserved area, the School of Medicine represents a new model for saving lives and improving local communities.