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Teaching Medical Teamwork Right From The Start

27 Aug 2016 
There's a new building going up on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic. A very big building.

"The skylight that we're standing under will eventually cover the area of an entire football field," says Russ Saghy, who oversees construction projects for the Cleveland Clinic.

The skylight is part of the new Case Western Reserve University Heath Education campus. The joint project with the Cleveland Clinic will eventually house the Case Western Reserve University's medical, dental and nursing schools, as well as the Cleveland Clinic's in-house medical school.

When it opens to the first classes of students in 2019 it will provide an estimated 8.5 football fields worth of space and enough concrete to build a sidewalk that's 75 miles long. The cost: almost $500 million.

"The idea is to create a 'mini campus' that gives each school its own identity, but fosters collaboration," says Chris Connell, one of the architects, who is with Foster & Partners.

Collaboration is the ultimate goal, those involved in the project say. Health care in the 21st century is increasingly being provided by teams, yet most health care professionals don't encounter their "teammates" until they are well along in their training.

"Health care is no longer a gladiatorial sport, where you had the one health care provider you know, mano a mano, one on one battling a disease," says Dr. James Young, a cardiologist who heads the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

"I'm involved with heart transplantation and mechanical devices for the heart," he says. "Boy, you can't do it by yourself!"

The new building, however, is less the beginning and more the culmination of a long-running effort at Case to train different types of health professionals together.

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